Normally, a Chelsea versus Aston Villa matchup would not be anything too out of the ordinary — even if for a while it specialized in giving us some notable scores and games, such as an 8-0 (even Torres scored!) or a 4-0 (even Pato scored!) or a 3-3 (90th minute equalizer cancels out JT’s 89th minute goal) or a 3-1 (Villa win at the Bridge!) or a 2-1 (Lampard breaking Tambling’s record to become Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer) a 4-2 or even a 1-0 that saw two hilarious red cards for Chelsea and a classic post-match interview from José “I prefer not to comment” Mourinho.
But that was all before Villa were relegated in 2016, and lost their status as one of the Premier League’s ever-presents since the league’s founding in 1992.
It took Villa three years to return, and it was in no small part thanks to Tammy Abraham’s goals, John Terry’s coaching, and even Frank Lampard’s Derby County, who were the vanquished foes back in May when Villa won the Championship playoff final at Wembley. Abraham led the team with 25 goals in the league, while JT, who had finished out his career at the club after leaving Chelsea in 2017, joined new head coach Dean Smith’s staff in early October as an assistant coach.
Okay, so maybe the ordinary is the extraordinary when it comes to Chelsea vs. Aston Villa in the 2010s. And this one’s got in spades, even before we consider that it will be the first Chelsea match broadcast on/by Amazon (UK). Yes, that Amazon.
So what else may be in store for us today?
Date / Time: Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 19:30 GMT; 2:30pm; 1am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh — this will Chelsea match No.6 for relatively inexperienced Chris Kavanagh, and the first since the 2-0 win against Brighton in September. We’ve yet to fail to win a game he’s refereed.
Forecast: Seasonably cold, but not too harsh
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports 3 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Amazon Prime Video (UK) — this is £7.99/month if you don’t already have Prime, or just sign up for the 30-day free trial, which will cover the Boxing Day streams as well; NBC Sports Gold (USA); HotStar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Having lost back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since January, and having won just once in the last five games in all competitions, and having seen our lead over fifth place dwindle to just 6 points, there’s no better time than now for a solid Chelsea win. Or a silly Chelsea win. Or an extraordinary Chelsea win. As long as it’s a Chelsea win!
Antonio Rüdiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Ross Barkley are set to miss out once again but all eyes will be on the fitness of Tammy Abraham, to see if he can suit up against his loan club from last season. The 22-year-old missed the weekend’s disappointment with a hip injury he picked up last week in Valencia.
Aston Villa team news: Manager Dean Smith, fresh off of signing a new four-year contract, will be without two of his regulars, as midfielder Anwar El Ghazi misses out with a leg injury and right back Frederic Guilbert is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
After three losses on the bounce, Villa have picked up four points in their last two games (including the weekend’s 2-2 draw at Old Trafford) and are back clear of the relegation zone for the moment. Having conceded just 2 goals more than Chelsea in 14 games so far, their relatively meagre goal-return from Abraham-replacement summer signing Wesley (4 in 12 games) has been one of the key problem areas for the team. But the likes of Jack Grealish and Trézéguet are capable of winning games on their own, so they must not be trifled with. Wonderfully named former
Chelsea B Vitesse midfielder Marvelous Nakamba could feature as well.
Villa’s early December schedule is positively awful, with games against Manchester United, Chelsea, Leicester City, and Sheffield United preceding a League Cup tie against Liverpool — and all that in the span of just 17 days! But they’re off to a good start with the aforementioned draw, while Chelsea’s form is in danger of turning truly south, which could spell real danger as we head into the festive period.
View from the enemy: 7500 To Holte
Previously: Let’s go with the 8-0, for inspiration.