Time is briskly running out for Aston Villa. They sit one place above dead last in the Premier League standings and are coming into this contest following five straight losses in a row. Not only that, but their last outing was a comprehensive 4-0 loss to Leicester which saw their keeper Reina worsen their woes after being found 20 yards outside his penalty box. That moment perhaps best encapsulated the chaotic lack of consistency currently plaguing Villa Park.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have been recently bolstered by a terrific 4-0 victory over Everton, and a 2-0 FA Cup win over league leaders Liverpool. While comfortable in fourth place, there is still Manchester United – the team who hold their last defeat in the Premier League – nipping at their heels to keep them focused.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
While Villa come into this game as underdogs, they are not to be written out just yet – especially after having shown us what they can do outside the Premier League. Perhaps the best example is that in the EFL Cup, they bested Leicester in a valiant 2-1 effort, but were totally outmatched by them in their last game. However, if Aston Villa can summon the strength that took Man City to the limit in the finals, then an upset is in the realms of possibility here.
However, they’ve been too inconsistent – in stark contrast with Chelsea’s excellent form – for us to view their victory here as anything other than unlikely. Nonetheless, we hope that the threat of relegation will be enough for them to show some fight. With that in mind, our scoreline prediction is 2-1 to Chelsea.
Our recommended tip: Jack Grealish scores first
If you’re looking for a market with long odds, there are few as interesting – nor that hold as much value – as this one. After their last defeat, Aston Villa’s captain was a dejected figure, stood beaten in the rain after another disappointing performance, both personally and as a leader.
With rumours abound of a summer transfer to Manchester United, we think a player as proud as Grealish will want to slay the demon of relegation before he leaves. If anyone is due a comeback – especially after a seven-match goalless drought – and has the motivation to hit hard early, it is this man. Bookmakers disagree with us, meaning you can get competitive 11/1 odds from Betfair on this prediction.
If Villa fans are looking to the history books for some inspiration, they may want to look elsewhere. Chelsea have beaten Aston Villa nine out of the last 10 times they have met, including the last five encounters, with the most recent taking place in December 2019. That was an absolutely brutal 8-0 victory in 2012. Honestly, we expected Chelsea to be dominant in this fixture, but this is beyond anticipation.
A solitary 1-0 win in 2014 is keeping the light of hope on for Aston Villa. And as anyone who knows anything about the Premier League knows, sometimes a small chance is enough.
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Players to watch: Jack Grealish & Billy Gilmour
Aston Villa: Jack Grealish
Well, considering our recommended tip, we could hardly go with anyone else here. Look, we know that Jack Grealish has not been up to his usual standards in the last few games, but considering how much that has affected the team, it’s all the more reason for him to be our player to watch. He is the heart of Aston Villa and if you want to get an idea of how this game will go – whichever way that is – he is the man to keep an eye on.
Chelsea: Billy Gilmour
The true depth of Chelsea’s talent pool was on full display for everyone to see in their remarkable 4-0 win over Everton. So good was that performance that it has actually left us with too many viable candidates for player to watch. However, after some reflection, we’ve decided to go with the brilliant Billy Gilmour. He kept that game moving with an astonishing 74 passes and incredible accuracy.