The Premier Leagues is finally back! Our Chelsea are finally back in action this Sunday afternoon as Frank Lampard takes almost a fully fit side to the midlands to face Aston Villa. The Blues can take a step back from impressing us all in the transfer market, with a victory away at Villa Park. Lampard’s side has nine games to secure a Champions League place for next season and currently sit in fourth.
Before football suddenly halted due the Covid-19 pandemic, Chelsea were in fine form which saw them knock soon to be Premier League champions Liverpool out of the FA Cup, and hitting their Merseyside rivals Everton for four at Stamford Bridge. Even though the clubs momentum took a blow because of the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, it certainly helped the Blues get a number of players back to full fitness.
Jorginho is the only player not injured who is out of this match at Villa Park as the midfielder is serving the second, and final, game of his suspension. His midfielder colleague, N’Golo Kante initially did not train when the players returned due to COVID-19 fears but it is believed he will be back up to speed and ready to go against Villa.
Kepa, James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Gilmour, Kovacic, Barkley, Pulisic, Abraham, Mount.
As much as Chelsea fans will be excited to see Loftus-Cheek make his long awaited return, it is unlikely that Frank Lampard will start him in the first game back. But, with both sides allowed to make up to five substitutions, I’m sure the England midfielder will feature in the second-half.
Lampard has already stated that Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori won’t be available in tomorrow’s game, and so the Chelsea boss will utilise Mason Mount from the left-wing position. This will enable the versatile midfielder to play closer to a rejuvenated Tammy Abraham, who looks to have bulked up during the lockdown period.
Pedro and Willian face uncertain futures at Stamford Bridge and so I expect Lampard to start Christian Pulisic in this game as the American has been in full training for a while now. The 21-year-old has been a big player for Lampard this season, but had been out for a long period due to injury. Another hat-trick like the one at Turf Moor please Pulisic?
Furthermore, Lampard will opt with the 4-3-3 formation with Scottish sensation Billy Gilmour, Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic playing in the centre of midfield in the hope of dominating proceedings at Villa Park. The only concern for Lampard is who his best partnership in the heart of defence is. With four centre-backs to choose from, I think Lampard will start Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger as the pair played together in the last two matches before lockdown in which the Blues looked solid defensively.
Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea
Frank Lampard and Chelsea would have seen results from clubs fighting for a Champions League spot. Many went in their favour as some dropped points and this first game back is a huge opportunity for the club to open up a five-point gap between them and fifth place. Chelsea’s opponents on Sunday have lost nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Chelsea, winning the other at Villa Park in March 2014. Chelsea have won their last five league games against Aston Villa, their best winning run against the Villans.
I believe this streak against Villa will continue as the Blues will be eager to get all three points at Villa Park. Some of the Chelsea players will know that the club have two high profile signings (Timo Werner & Hakim Ziyech) who will begin their Chelsea journeys next season. For that reason, I believe Abraham will know the competition he will get next season and he will be keen to prove he is the clubs number one striker.
I think he will score in this encounter against the club he was on loan at in the Championship last season. Also, I am confident Pulisic will perform well and score the other as he will know both these transfers that the club have made will aim to take his preferred position. Overall, Lampard will have a strong squad at his disposal in this match after having many injuries during this season. It will be good to see Loftus-Cheek get some minutes in the second-half, which will bring excitement to all Chelsea fans.