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Well Chelsea, who are still firing in the FA Cup and the Champions League, did not want to find themselves in this awkward position. Roberto Di Matteo’s men find themselves five points back of fourth place in the league, with just eight games to go. That is going to be a tough gap to close, because they have a tough fixture list to close out the season with. So this is the type of game where they need to capitalise on their opportunities. However, this tricky fixture at Villa Park, where Chelsea don’t have a great record, comes at a tricky time, sandwiched in between Chelsea’s two legs of their Champions League quarter final tie against Benfica. Chelsea picked up a precious away win in the week, and will have one eye on the return fixture against the Portuguese next week. So this match almost comes as a distraction, although it is vitally important that they pick up three points in it.
Tip: Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has scored in each of his last four games against Aston Villa and is 4/1 favourite at Bet365 in the First Goalscorer Market.
However, the Blues are not in good shape away from home in the Premier League. Neither is their overall current form. Chelsea are without a win in their last two league matches, following defeat at Manchester City and a hugely disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Spurs last weekend, in what was such a crucial match in the race for fourth spot. Chelsea looked tired and short of their best there but they need to find a big response in the league. Aston Villa embarrassed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season with a 3-1 win. That is the last thing that the Blues need right now. Chelsea have lost their last three matches away from home in the league, and there has only been one away win in the last eight for the Londoners. So not great form in their quest for a top four finish. Chelsea are only averaging 1.20 goals away from home this season, and are conceding one per game on average. They need to break that run and turn things around, but Chelsea have only won once in their last twelve trips to Villa Park.
So can Villa really hurt Chelsea right now? The Villains aren’t exactly bristling with form, and injury problems have taken Villa right down to the bare bones. They weren’t in their contests last contest, which was an away visit to Arsenal last weekend, when they lost 3-0. Villa have won just one of their last eight home matches at Villa Park, and fans haven’t been happy with their limited and cautious approach to matches. They broke a streak of seven home games without a win when they beat Fulham on March 10th, by a 1-0 scoreline. But Villa, especially compounded by injuries and the long term loss of top scorer Darren Bent are struggling for goals. Villa have netted just two goals in their last five matches and that is a huge stumbling block for them. Villa have managed just four home wins all season and average just over a goal per game. They will go as underdogs, even at home because Chelsea are playing better at the moment, and have a bigger squad to call upon. Villa are only eight points out of the relegation zone, and while they will probably be safe, it has been a hugely disappointing season for them.