There used to be a time when I hated international breaks as I needed to get my ‘Aston Villa fix’ every weekend. With the way things are right now, it’s become a welcome distraction in what has turned out to be a shambolic season.
A lot has happened in the last few days: Rémi Garde left the club, after numerous discussions with the club’s hierarchy, by mutual consent. Eric Black has been put in charge as the interim manager.
Micah Richards and Gabby Agbonlahor were pictured in Dubai enjoying themselves but it was Agbonlahor who caught the eye of a few journalists. He was pictured smoking cigars, drinking and reportedly in a carefree mood. His jolly boys’ outing ended with the striker being suspended by the club and an internal enquiry launched. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this marks the end of Gabby Agbonlahor’s time at Aston Villa.
Back to matters at hand: Chelsea will travel to B6 today to face Villa in the early kick off. The London side will be looking to pile more misery on the Villans as they look for maximum points.
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Date: Saturday 2nd April 2016
Kick-off: 12:45 (Live on BT Sport 1 HD)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Adama Traore has finally recovered from a broken foot suffered in February and he faces a late fitness test. Aston Villa fans will be excited by this news as he has been one of the bright sparks in an otherwise poor season. The enigmatic winger will be looking to make an instant impact but will probably start on the bench against Chelsea.
Jack Grealish is also close to fitness again after recovering from a ankle injury which has hampered him for the last six weeks or so.
Gabby Agbonlahor will not feature in the first team this week after being suspended by the club.
Jordan Amavi is continuing his rehabilitation following his ACL injury.
Striker Libor Kozak’s frustrating season continues: he has been ruled out with a knee injury.
For the visitors, Costa will not feature against Villa due to an additional game being added to his suspension by the F.A.
Hazard, a player who many feel has not hit the heights of last season, will also miss out after suffering from a hip and groin injury.
The danger man:
Cesc Fabregas is the man to watch this week. The midfielder thrives in games such as these and can often be the difference between the two sides. What the Villa boys will have to do is get Gueye to mark him to minimise his impact in the game.
The Spanish international will look to pull the strings from the centre of the parkvand will hope to get the wingers involved with early diagonal passes. Fabregas will also look to play the ball through Villa’s defence to play in Chelsea’s strikers.
The only way to combat Fabregas will be to give him no time on the ball and have someone snapping at his heels to make him cautious in possession. It’s no surprise that the Spaniard’s dip in form has meant Chelsea Football Club has also suffered. With only four goals and four assists this season, Fabregas has not met his team’s or fans’ expectation so far but will be looking to have a big impact in today’s game.
In all competitions, the Villans have lost the last five games (L L L L L).
The Villans have only won once in the last five home games, beating Norwich in a 2-0 win (L L L W L).
In all competitions, today’s opponents have drawn twice, won once and lost two of their last five games (D L L D W).
Chelsea’s away form has been better, with two wins, two losses and a draw (L W W L D).
In the past:
The Londoners have won four times in their last five visits to Villa Park. The Villans did manage to beat Chelsea last season at Villa Park, with Fabian Delph scoring a fine goal to seal the points for the Villans.