Chelsea visit Villa Park on Saturday afternoon eager to stretch their Premier League lead.
The first game for the Blues’ post a winter transfer window of comings and goings at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho will be hoping Chelsea can take three points from Villa without the help of Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah.
The Blues’ do however have a new number 23 amongst their ranks. Juan Cuadrado, a £23m deadline day signing from Fiorentina should make his debut.
Chelsea came unstuck at Villa Park last season, a late Fabian Delph flick stole three points for the Claret and Blues in a game that Chelsea dominated. Jose Mourinho was fined £8,000 as Willian and Ramires were red carded causing a major dent to Chelsea’s title chase.
However, this campaign has largely been all smiles. Five points clear following a 1-1 draw with title contenders Manchester City last weekend, Chelsea will go into Saturday’s contest with Villa expecting maximum points against one of the Premier League’s struggling sides.
Having scored only 11 times in the league this season, and on the wrong end of a 5-0 thumping away at Arsenal last week. Paul Lambert is walking a tight rope. The once potent threats of Christian Benteke, Gabi Abonglahor and Andreas Weinann will be up against the odds as John Terry continues to roll back the years with either youngster Kurt Zouma or the experienced Gary Cahill alongside him.
Hazard, Oscar and Willian are all fit with Diego Costa still side-lined due to suspension. Loic Remy will be hoping he can earn a start following his goal last weekend against City. Thibaut Courtois should remain between the sticks as he continues his recovering from a thumb injury.