Chelsea face an in-form Aston Villa side today, the first of three tough matches before the new year.

Villa, unbeaten in six, last week pulled off a surprise 3-1 victory over Liverpool and their confidence will be sky high coming into this match.

Although the Blues have won four of their last five, three of these have been recorded against sides inferior to today’s opposition – Nordsjaelland, Monterrey and Leeds.

Chelsea have also conceded goals in each of their last six and will have to manage again without injured captain John Terry.

David Luiz and Villa youth product Gary Cahill are expected to start, and will also have to manage without a conventional holding midfielder – Oriol Romeu (injured) and John Obi Mikel (suspended) are both out of contention.

Facing up against a Villa side who have scored seven in their last two matches, it is hard to see the home side keeping a clean sheet today.

So Chelsea will have to outscore their opposition. Once again, with Daniel Sturridge expected to be out, all eyes will be on Fernando Torres.

You get the feeling, now more than ever, that this is make or break time for the Spaniard. Luckily for him, he is arguably in his best run of form for the club, with six goals in his last five.

Despite his recent good run of good form fan patience is lower than ever before because many see his underperforming last month as a big reason for the departure of manager Roberto di Matteo.

Not only that, the January transfer window is fast approaching and Roman Abramovich may be willing to open his chequebook Sorry iif he needs to.

There will be goal threats elsewhere today – Oscar, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and, expecting to make his first Premier League start for two months, Frank Lampard, who scored four goals in this fixture three season ago.

But manager Rafael Benitez will be desperately hoping that Torres gets on the scoresheet. Abramovich brought him in to get the best out of Torres and, at this stage, it may be his only redeeming feature for many Chelsea supporters.

A few may have been won round by impressive victories at Sunderland and Leeds, but any slip up today and things may go back and beyond square one for Benitez

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