It's a dark and stormy night. Thunder. Lightning. Bucketing down. And sideways. And sometimes, seemingly, up, too. The parched earth drinks it in. It hasn't rained in almost two months. The drought will continue; this is temporary, though much welcome relief.
If I were an Aston Villa fan, I'd take this as the most welcome of welcoming signs. The team's scoring drought in the Premier League has reached a club record 612 minutes. December 20th was when they last gave the scoreboard operator anything to do. But the rain dance has worked, surely the goal dances shall as well. The only way is up from the 5-0 pasting by Arsenal last weekend.
So yeah. Most ominous signs in the sky. Scott Sinclair, the bizarro Danny Sturridge just signed, too. Surely he's due for a hat-trick against his old team. Joe Cole might be fit, too. And that's before we remember all the high-scoring and batcountry-crazy matches we've had over the years against Villa and Mourinho's poor league record (W0-D3-L2) at Villa Park.
IT'S A TRAP!
(Or we're going to absolutely destroy them.)
(Or eke out a narrow 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 win?)
Date / Time: Saturday, February 7, 2015, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
Referee: Neil Swarbrick -- 9th Chelsea game for Swarbrick; we've yet to lose any of them (2 draws). Two wins from two this season so far, both away from the Bridge (2-0 at Stoke, 2-1 at Strawberry in the League Cup).
Forecast: Cold but dry.
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports 4 (India)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Universo Live (USA); Star Sports (India)
Aston Villa team news: No Drogba jokes this time as Philippe Senderos is injured. But Ron Vlaar might be back, and he's not half bad. As mentioned above, Joe Cole could be back as well; he had been sidelined by yet another injury, hamstring this time. He's made only 8 appearances in all competitions this season as he attempts yet another comeback at 33.
The big story around the club of course is their bordering-on-historic futility in front of goal. Just 11 goals in 23 Premier League matches, easily the worst offensive output of any of the fully professional teams in England (Hull City and WBA are next worst with 20; or Sheffield Wednesday -- 21 in 28 matches -- if we look at in as a per-game average). And who knows how deep that futility reaches: Villa have fewer goals than any team in the top 8 tiers of the English football pyramid. Bashley FC of the Southern League Division One South & West have 15 goals to their name (and 100 conceded) as they sit rock bottom of their league. Yet somehow, Villa are not even in the relegation zone! (Before last weekend's drubbing, their defensive record for Top 5-worthy.)
View from the enemy: 7500 to Holte
Chelsea team news: Filipe Luís is the only confirmed injury for the Blues, but both John Obi Mikel (head) and Cesc Fàbregas (hamstring) are doubtful even if Jose Mourinho made it a point to not talk about them. Diego Costa will serve the second of his three-match ban.
Much of the team still picks itself, though we have another game coming up on Wednesday (Everton at the Bridge) so perhaps some decisions will be made in light of that. Wouldn't surprise me if Didier Drogba started one of these next two, for example. Other things to watch for will be whether Kurt Zouma continues to be picked over Gary Cahill and how and when will new boy Juan Cuadrado get to make his debut.
Previously: Chelsea won the first meeting between the two sides this season fairly easily -- Oscar scoring early, Costa settling the tie, and Willian adding a third -- but this fixture last year was an absolute [shoe]storm of everything just the absolute worst. Nemanja Matić had a goal ruled out, Fabian Delph played out of his mind (and hasn't scored since), Willian was sent off for highly questionable yellow cards, Ramires lost his mind (again), and Mourinho copped a suspension and a fine as well (again). Incidentally, I would be ok with all of those happening again, as long as we win. Because win we must!