Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea

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  • Aston Villa upset Chelsea at Villa Park, 1-0, in March of last season as the Blues’ title chase fell just short. 
  • Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has never won a Premier League game at Villa Park (0-3-2 all-time).
  • Diego Costa (17 league goals) has outscored the entire Aston Villa (11) team in PL play this season, but is suspended.

Chelsea currently sit atop the Premier League table, while Aston Villa find themselves in 16th as another nightmare season wears on ahead of Saturday’s meeting at Villa Park (Watch live on NBCSN and online via Live Extra, 9:45 am ET).

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

As Chelsea chase yet another Premier League title, Aston Villa find themselves once again floundering in the mid- to late-teens of the Premier League table, just three points clear of relegation. Three points for either side on Saturday will go a long way toward making — or saving — someone’s season.

The two sides met at Stamford Bridge back in September as Chelsea scored a comfortable 3-0 victory on the back of goals by their three Brazilian (one turned-Spaniard) stars Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian. Aston Villa registered just a single shot on goal in that game after holding just 37 percent of possession.

While no single player has scored more than three league goals for Aston Villa (Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor), three Chelsea players are nearing double digits in goals scored, led by Costa’s 17 — which again, bears repeating, is six more than the entire Aston Villa team have scored this season (fewest in the Premier League after 23 games).

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar could return from a knee injury, as could Joe Cole (hamstring), while Philippe Senderos (calf) is likely out once again.

Meanwhile, Chelsea could reportedly be without midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) who also missed last weekend’s top of the table clash with Manchester City. Fabregas suffered the injury days earlier in Chelsea’s Capital One Cup semifinal second leg victory over Liverpool.

What they’re saying

Paul Lambert, on forward Christian Benteke’s struggles — “He’s not stupid and he knows he’s had a dip in form. This will make him stronger and he’s having a slump that all strikers have. If he can get back to what he was, he’s unplayable when he’s bang on his game. Will I take him out the firing line? We’ll make a decision before Saturday but there are options.”

Jose Mourinho, on how many teams are in the title race — “That’s not my problem. We are one side. Its for the others to decide if they are title contenders. We see ourselves as title contenders.”

Prediction

It’s tough to see any side with 11 goals scored in 23 games putting even one goal past this Chelsea defense — let alone two or three, which is what they’ll almost certainly need. Another routine away victory for Mourinho’s men. Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea.