Tying the Knot - Chelsea FC v. Aston Villa:  Preview

See the ball; be the ball

In a rather poetic twist, the proprietor if this here blog (Graham) is getting married to the proprietor of SB Nation's Aston Villa blog (Kirsten). Tying the proverbial knot. Aaaawwww.

So that means that their first fight as a married couple will get to happen sometime tomorrow (starting at 10am EST / 7am PST), when some thug in a Villa shirt breaks David Luiz's ankles. Don't say I didn't warn you!!!

Chelsea have certainly done their fair share of tying as well in recent weeks. After three quality and much-needed wins, our form has dipped considerably and we have now dropped points in three consecutive matches, two of which were definitely of the winnable variety.

The final match of 2011 provides an excellent opportunity to end that streak, to end the year on a good note, and to not fall any further behind the leaders (while keeping us ahead of the 4th place chasers). With all the "big" teams facing rather winnable match ups (and Liverpool having already taken care of business today), it will be especially important to collect all three points from this one.

Our recent bouts with Villa at Stamford Bridge have been entertaining. Last year's 3-3 draw followed a 7-1 demolishing from our Double-winning season. A couple years before then, fans got to witness a 4-4 draw. I would settle for a boring 1-0, 2-0 win tomorrow though...

Alex McLeish will no doubt line his side up in his revolutionary 4-4-2-til-I-die formation, probably opting for the same attacking duo (Darren Bent - slight injury doubt - & Gabriel Agbonlahor) and wing-pair (Marc Albrighton & Charles N'Zogbia) that brought him their only win in their last 7. Of course, that was at Bolton, and since then they've lost two and drawn one. So beyond the speed of the aforementioned four, there isn't much to fear. We should dominate their midfield and Brad Guzan in goal is certainly beatable.

Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that both John Terry and Jose Bosingwa will be available (although Sam Hutchinson and Todd Kane have both been training with the first team this week), while Ramires returns from his suspension. Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel, and Michael Essien continue to stalk Dr. Eva in her treatment room, while Alex is still stuck in the Mines of Moria/Siberia.

I suppose to big question, as always, is how much of a role will Fernando Torres play? Does he sit? Does he start? With or without Didier Drogba? Despite the effort he showed v. Fulham, my guess is he sits to start this one. Of course, this is his last chance to try to up his goal count for Chelsea in 2011 - he still has more league goals for the Reds (4), than for the Blues (3) in this calendar year!

In the end, it matters not who scores the goals, as long as the goals come. Our finishing was very suspect in the last match - no time like the present to make amends for that.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Petr Cech - Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Jose Bosingwa - Oriol Romeu, Frank Lampard, Ramires - Juan Mata, Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge

We need the points, we need the "first choice" lineup.

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