Aston Villa arrive at the bridge fresh off the back of a frankly hilarious victory at Arsenal. The comical north Londoners made a good attempt at rivalling Mourinho’s return as the most enjoyable part of Chelsea supporters’ weekend.
On a serious note, Benteke showed once again that he alone will require specific preparation. No doubt about it, Villa will pose more of threat than Hull. It was widely expected that if they could survive relegation last season that their youthful side would more than likely kick on and provide a bright future for the Birmingham club. It is highly likely that Lambert will start with the same eleven that he was uncontrollably beaming about in post-match interviews on Saturday. A similar 4-3-3/4-5-1 shape that Hull opted for with Weimann and Agbonlahor either side of Benteke.
Chelsea’s line-up is, as ever, slightly more unpredictable. Expect to see Luiz and Mata involved following their extended recovery period after international exsertions. It will be interesting to see how the latter is deployed. Interesting because Oscar was particularly fantastic on Sunday occupying the position in which our dazzling Spaniard has been so effective in recent seasons. Bizarely, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the future of our back to back player of the year. Many at the bridge will be relieved to see him in a blue shirt, carving up opposing defensive lines once more. It is important not to read too much in to team selections early doors. Chelsea have amassed a large number of creative midfielders, so the rotation policy employed will make Mourinho’s favoured starting eleven difficult to establish.
In terms of the match itself, selecting the same back four Ivan, Terry, Cahill and Cole could be risky against the pace Villa possess on the break. It seems Agbonlahor had a decent game at the Emirates and while he is limited, he could cause that back four problems. I would fully expect this to be considered beforehand, meaning they will sit deeper or Luiz/Azpilicueta will start. Villa will be busy and industriuos as you would expect from a team managed by an O’Neill protege. It seemed Hull’s single plan of attack was to sling crosses in, against which Chelsea still seem to be susceptible, and I would expect the same in this match. Danny Murphy touched upon the weaknesses within Chelsea’s defence on Match of the Day and it is a worry that John Terry, as brilliant as he may be, is still our best defender. Going forward however, we have no problems, and should have far too much for a Villa line-up not too disimilar to the one we rattled eight past last season.
Do not expect a repeat of last years scoreline, but Chelsea are a safe bet to head north-west next week with maximum points in the bag. Besides, Villa are away to a competent London side now.