Meetings between Aston Villa and Chelsea, for whatever reason, have, for better or worse, tended to produce rather memorable encounters in recent season. There was the 8-0, the 7-1, the 4-2, the 4-4, the 3-3, or even the 1-3 home defeat under AVB or the 1-0 away "Chris Foy'd" loss, which remains our only loss in the last eight meetings. Even the reverse fixture earlier this season is semi-memorable, not for the straightforward 2-0 Chelsea win itself, but rather as one of the very few straightforward wins this wretched season.
Of course that's all relative. Chelsea's absolute wretchedness compares not with Aston Villa's, who, at one point, registered just 1 win in 20 matches in all competitions and have flirted with Derby County's record for futility for much of the season. With three wins on the season, Villa have now tripled Derby's total from 2007-08, but are still all but assured of the drop.
As one of the founding members of the Premier League, and one of the seven ever-presents (alongside Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Everton, and Manchester United), that's a bit sad actually. But also a harsh reminder of the realities of promotion-relegation even in this era of wealthy owners, huge salaries, and even huger TV contracts.
We don't have to worry about that. For now. For this season at least. Massive improvement will be required from Chelsea next season, but we can worry about that later. For now, let's enjoy this meaningless, unremarkable encounter between rudderless, tired Chelsea and managerless, terrible Aston Villa.
Best league in the world!
AVFC vs. CFC
AVFC vs. CFC
Date / Time: Saturday, April 2, 2016, 12:45 BST; 7:45am EDT; 5:15pm IST
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
Referee: Neil Swarbrick — we haven't seen Mr. Swarbrick since this exact same fixture last season, in the middle of February. Chelsea won 2-1 thanks to a Branislav Ivanovic left foot volley special.
Forecast: Pleasantly warm. Spring has sprung.
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports 2 / HD 2 (India); elsewhere
Online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India); Chelsea TV (radio, int'l)
Aston Villa team news: Villa fired a manager for the second time this season when poor old Remi Garde was dismissed during the international break. He did marginally better than Tim Sherwood, though that's not saying much. Some dude name Eric Black is the new man in termporary charge. According to his Wikipedia entry, this will be the sixth time in his career that he'll get to be "caretaker manager". But unless he conjured some real Black-magic, he will simply be at the wheel when the HMS Claret and Blue sinks.
In any case, Villa are on a six-match losing streak. They have a couple injuries, a few doubts, and a lots of useless and terrible players. One of those terrible players, "club captain" Gabby Agbonlahor got himself suspended indefinitely for some international break shenanigans. It's all happening at Villa and most of that is not good. That's not to say they won't win -- dead cat bounces combined with Chelsea's generosity this season make any outcome possible here. But they probably won't.
For some actual analysis on Villa, be sure to check out our opposition preview.
View from the
enemy bottom of the burning trash pile: 7500 to Holte
Chelsea team news: Chelsea are still technically unbeaten in the league since Hiddink took over, but it sure doesn't feel like it. To qualify for Europe, we'd need a similar miracle to what Villa would need to avoid relegation. So that probably won't happen. With nothing to truly play for, maybe we'll actually relax and do something entertaining. Or just keep doing the same old [shoe].
Eden Hazard remains injured; he's not expected back for at least another week. Diego Costa copped an additional ban for his confrontation with Everton's Gareth Barry, so he won't be back for another two weeks. Hiddink said he "might" use Pato and experiment a bit (youth, anyone?) in the final eight games. I also "might" win the lottery.
Previously: John Motson's dulcet tones are your soundtrack for Baba Rahman's Premier League debut and a "youth day" starring Ruben Loftus-Cheek for 45 minutes.