Aston Villa-Chelsea Preview
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is relishing the prospect of seeing his team go toe-to-toe with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, as the visitors bid to leapfrog the Blues in the Premier League table.
Having thrashed Bournemouth 3-0 prior to the international break, Villa are 11th in the table but are level on points with Chelsea in 10th, four points adrift of the top six.
While Emery believes Graham Potter is beginning to turn things around in west London, he views Saturday's trip to Stamford Bridge as a chance for Villa to show their quality.
"They have very good players and their coach is amazing," Emery said of Chelsea. "His work in Brighton was amazing and he needs time to adapt his ideas to Chelsea. Progressively, they are doing better.
"We are in the same position. We are 11th but we're really close and with the same points as Chelsea. We're close to teams that are having very good seasons: Fulham, Brentford, Brighton.
"We are excited by the prospect, for the first time, to be close to them."
The international break has provided some relief for Chelsea, who should welcome Reece James and N'Golo Kante - the latter of whom last featured in August - back from injury lay-offs.
"Reece has had the last two training sessions with us so providing there is no reaction he should be available," Potter said on Friday.
"N'Golo has had some time on the pitch. We have to manage that because he's been out for so long but I'm pretty sure he will be out on the pitch at some point."
Asked about Chelsea's ambitions after they put together a three-match unbeaten run prior to the two-week break, Potter said: "It's going to be an exciting month.
"The focus for us is to stay present and think about the next game against Aston Villa."
Chelsea - Mason Mount
Mount scored both of Chelsea's goals in their 2-0 win at Villa Park in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Should he make his return from injury on Saturday, he could become the fifth Chelsea player to score home and away against Aston Villa in a single Premier League campaign, and just the second Englishman to do so after Frank Lampard in 2012-13.
Aston Villa - Ollie Watkins
Watkins has either scored (eight) or assisted (three) in 11 of his last 15 Premier League games for Aston Villa. However, the striker has only made more appearances against Leeds United (six) than he has against Chelsea (five) without scoring in the competition.
Aston Villa have won just one of their last 17 Premier League away games against Chelsea (D4 L12), losing six of their last seven at Stamford Bridge since a 3-1 victory in December 2011.
Chelsea have won two of their last three Premier League games (D1), as many wins as in their previous 15 (D6 L7). Indeed, the Blues have scored as many goals in their last three leagues matches (six) as they did in their previous 12.
However, since Emery's first game in charge of Villa in November, only Manchester City (16) and Arsenal (15) have picked up more Premier League points on the road than the Villans' 13, so they may push the Blues close.
Chelsea 52.1 per cent
Aston Villa21.0 per cent
Draw26.9 per cent
Updated March 31, 2023