Aston Villa returns to action on Sunday afternoon as they host Frank Lampard and his Chelsea side at Villa Park. It will be their second game since the return to football.
Following their 0-0 draw with Sheffield United on Wednesday night, they received mixed feedback from both fans and certain sections of the media. Some highlighting how it was a good result against such a well organised side while others seeing it as yet another missed opportunity from Villa this season.
Roy Keane went one further on Friday Night Football by criticizing Club captain Jack Grealish for laughing and not taking it serious enough. Although I agree with Keane to an extent I also appreciate that it is a different feeling for the players who are used to playing in front of fans. Grealish, in fact, described the game as feeling like a friendly. That will not save Villa from relegation, however.
Apart from Brightons not so shock win over Arsenal yesterday, results went Villa’s way yesterday and a win over Chelsea today could see them climb out of the bottom three. It is easier said than done. Villa may have 90 minutes more competitive football under their belts but pre-lockdown Chelsea were the fourth-best team in the Premier League on the road. Just like Villa, lock-down has also allowed Chelsea to get the majority of their squad back to full fitness.
Villa may have been stronger defensively against Sheffield United in mid-week but we failed to create too much going forward. Smith will have to find the right balance to enable Villa to be strong and the back but equally, be effective going forward.
Danny Drinkwater will not feature as he cannot play against his parent club. The midfielder has failed to make a real impact since his loan from Chelsea and was an unused substitute against Sheffield United.
John McGinn will be assessed as Smith is on alert to not overload his midfielder after returning from a 6-month layout. Bjorn Engels (Achilles), Wesley and Tom Heaton (both knee) are all still unavailable.
Frederick Guilbert (knee) has returned to training and may take Drinkwater’s place on the bench.
Chelsea’s only worry is Fikayo Tomori who picked up a muscle injury in training this week.
Smith surprised many with the inclusion of a few players against Sheffield United but I fully expect him to rotate 2-3 in the squad. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Marvelous Nakamba and Mbwana Samatta be handed starts.
FANTASY FOOTBALL TIPS
When I decided to add this feature, the last thing I wanted was to continue picking the same player but it is hard to look past Jack Grealish once again for Villa. He wasn’t at his best on Wednesday despite putting through some really big key passes but will only get better the more he plays.
At £6.1M Grealish has picked up 121 points so far this season, almost 40 more than any other Villa player. He is also selected by 26% of all managers on FPL.
My tip for Chelsea will be no real surprise for Villa fans, Tammy Abraham. The forward helped Villa get promoted last season and just like Grealish, has more points so far this season (131) than any other Chelsea player.
The 22-year-old has 13 goals so far this season and will want to make a real statement for the remainder of the season after Chelsea announced the signing of Timo Werner from RB Leipzig this week.
Tammy is just £7.4M on FPL and has been selected by 16.4% of the managers.
I don’t want to be negative here so I won’t. Villa will have to be at their best to try and get anything from this game. Chelsea are chasing a Champions League spot and Frank Lampard will have them fired up.
Villa made a lot of positive noises pre-Sheffield United but it wasn’t all positive on the pitch Wednesday night so Smith will want to build on their 5th clean sheet of the season today.
Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea
Details and Television
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Date: Sunday, 21st June 2020
Kick-off: 16.30 (UK Time)
Television: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League