Chelsea makes the trip up to Birmingham for a highly anticipated Boxing Day bout with Aston Villa. The Villains are flying high at the moment, still riding the wave of the new manager bounce. They hired Liverpool legend and former Rangers manager Steven Gerrard to replace a struggling Dean Smith. While Aston Villa has dropped a few points, those losses have come at the hands of Manchester City and Liverpool. Things don’t get much easier as the Villains welcome the Blues to their stomping grounds for a late December contest, but if there was ever a right time to host Thomas Tuchel’s struggling squad, it’s right now.
The Blues have dealt with a dip in form, a plethora of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak this month that’s seen them drop from first to third in the league. Now, as the new year quickly approaches, Chelsea needs to pick up all three points at Villa Park to avoid falling out of the title race ahead of January’s clashes with the league leaders. The Blues’ game against the Villains will reveal a lot about where the club is at this moment in time. Luckily, they’ve been given a boost as Callum Hudson-Odoi and Romelu Lukaku have both recently returned from COVID-19. Andreas Christensen is also training once again following a knock.
Chelsea earned a massive midweek victory over Brentford to advance to the semifinals of the Carabao Cup. Will they carry that performance over to Sunday’s Premier League affair or will the good form stop there? Here is how The Pride of London team sees the contest playing out:
Tan Yi Hao: 1-2 Chelsea
The Blues are in for a really tough game against Gerrard’s Villa side that has looked impressive since his arrival. But with key players coming back into the fold, they should have just enough to squeeze through for all three points.
Leighton September: 1-3 Chelsea
Boxing Day football always is a treat! The blue boys will travel well after their last away win against rival Brentford in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. The Villains, however, are a different prospect to face under Gerrard. Chelsea should have a couple of players back from COVID isolation, so I back Tuchel’s men to get the all important ‘W’ away at Villa.
Barrett Rouen: 0-1 Chelsea
Lukaku finally has one of those matches that we got him for.
Hugo Amaya: 2-3 Chelsea
Boxing Day is usually a tricky one, but the Blues will just about win. Lukaku and Mason Mount will run the show with goals and assists for each.
Olly Smith: 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea cannot keep the ball out of the danger areas and will be made to pay by a resurgent Villa under Gerrard. They won’t deserve it, but the Blues will win and we will all say “this is the type of win champions grind out.” Nevertheless, the issues will persist.
Anthony Gatt: 1-1 Draw
Stevie G won’t slip again.
Mike Malley: 0-0 Draw
Who will be playing in this match? How many others will be cancelled by COVID? Is this really a legitimate season in the English top flight anymore? All of these questions will be answered (maybe) and more when Tuchel’s boys head to Villa Park on this episode of Keeping up with the Premier League.
Gabe Henderson: 1-3 Chelsea
This is one of the most difficult matches to predict all season. The Blues are unpredictable as of late, especially given the number of injuries and COVID-related absences there are in the squad at the moment. Aston Villa usually represents a tough test, but the Villains aren’t always consistent. Furthermore, both sides desperately need the three points ahead of the turn of the new year. It’s not pretty but Chelsea ends up doing the league double over the Clarets.
What is your score prediction? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!