Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea

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  • Eric Black will manage Villa
  • Costa suspended, Hazard out
  • Blues unbeaten in PL under Hiddink (W6, D8)

Chelsea look to extend their unbeaten run under Guus Hiddink to 15 matches on Saturday when the Blues travel to lowly Aston Villa (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

The Blues won the first meeting of the season 2-0, although that was under Jose Mourinho while Tim Sherwood was still in charge at Villa.

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Since Guus Hiddink took over Chelsea in December, the Blues have not lost a match in the Premier League, climbing up to tenth on the table. That run should continue on Saturday, as Aston Villa are destined for relegation with just three wins all season. While it should be a relatively easy trip to Villa Park, Hiddink’s side will be without top scorer Diego Costa through suspension.

Eric Black will call the shots for Villa after being appointed interim boss following Remi Garde’s departure earlier this week. Black was brought to the club by Garde in January, but was kept on when the Frenchman left by mutual consent amidst a brutal run of form. The Villans have scored just 11 goals in 15 home matches this season, and will face another uphill battle on Saturday.

What they’re saying

Villa caretaker Eric Black: “We’ve got to try and change something. The atmosphere has been poor in terms of everyone’s been a bit doom and gloom. I can help that process but ultimately I won’t be out on the field. I would like the fans to feel we’re going in the right direction. It’s not their responsibility, it’s down to the club and the players. I appreciate it’s been a very difficult time but we’ve got to move forward.”

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink: “We want to get the maximum out of the team regarding the league table, to get the best position possible. But also we appeal to the players to say ‘hey, you are a big club which has had a very difficult season and is recovering step by step’. When you play as a big club in a difficult situation, you must have pride as well.”

Prediction

Villa enter the match on a six-game losing streak, and expect that to be at seven after 90 minutes. Aston Villa 0-3 Chelsea.