Aston Villa vs Chelsea: The reigning European champions are in desperate need of three points at Villa Park on Boxing Day (watch live, 12:30 pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) to remain in the Premier League title race.
Injuries and cases of COVID-19 have very quickly derailed Chelsea’s title chase before the halfway point, as they now sit six points behind leaders Manchester City after 18 games. 10 games into the 2021-22 season, Chelsea were three points clear at the top of the table and five above Man City. Over the next eight games, the gap swung 11 points in the opposite direction. The future is still a bit murky, with Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz all still uncertain to return on Sunday, once again leaving Thomas Tuchel shorthanded up top, once again likely forcing Christian Pulisic to play as a false-nine.
As for Aston Villa, the Steven Gerrard era is off to a roaring start with four wins and two defeats in six Premier League games. Even better, they’re perfect against the sides they need to beat (Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Norwich), with the defeats coming to a pair of giants (Man City and Liverpool). All that remains unfulfilled is a signature victory over one of the big boys, and Sunday presents what might be the perfect opportunity. However, Villa will have to beat Chelsea without Gerrard as he will miss their next two games due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Aston Villa vs Chelsea.
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Check out the latest odds and a prediction for Aston Villa vs Chelsea, here.
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup options (INJURY REPORT)
OUT: Leon Bailey (thigh), Marvelous Nakamba (knee), Morgan Sanson (COVID-19)
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 26, 2021
Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Ben Chilwell (knee), Timo Werner (COVID-19), Kai Havertz (COVID-19), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle)
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 26, 2021