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    Chelsea v Aston Villa - Match Preview

    by Conall Green
    Chelsea host Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, for a pivotal game which could prove terminal for either manager were they to be on the receiving end of another defeat.
    The visiting boss, Tim Sherwood, is the bookies' favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be relieved of his duties, with his team having failed to win a league game since the opening day of the season and sitting in the relegation zone, already four points adrift. Speculation he is soon to be replaced has mounted this week, with both Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes being linked with the job at Villa Park.
    Owner Randy Lerner, chief executive Tom Fox, scouting & recruitment director Paddy Reilly and sporting director Hendrik Almstadt met in the US last week, which added fuel to the flames. However, it has since been reported that Sherwood was invited, but preferred to stay and work with his squad in an attempt to change their fortunes and has been given a full debrief of what was discussed.
    It is not only the results that are making the board uneasy, with Sherwood’s recent more defensive game plans and constant tinkering with both personnel and formation raising concerns with the Villa hierarchy and Sherwood recent admission that he does not know his best XI will not have helped matters.
    He is in positive mood however, saying:
    "I'm a football manager and am responsible for results. That's what I'm paid for. I'll stand up to this."
    "We'll soldier on and get through it. I have 100% belief that we'll stay in the Premier League."
    Whether that would be enough to save his job remains to be seen.
    Mourinho is also under extreme scrutiny, with the bookies making him third favourite for the chop, as his team of reigning champions sit in 16th position after eight games. Chelsea have won only two of their Premier League games so far, collecting a meagre 8 points, a run which led to Roman Abramovich feeling compelled to publicly issue a vote of confidence in the Portuguese after the latest loss to Southampton.

    That was a defeat which led to a £50,000 fine and a suspended stadium ban after a typical Mourinho outburst, which this week he called a “disgrace” and “astonishing”, which he has been fortunate enough to get away with. Considering his precarious position, perhaps Jose ought to take a break from courting controversy.
    On the pitch, Mourinho is likely to bring combative centre forward Diego Costa straight back into the starting line-up after his retrospective 3 match ban for his antics against Arsenal, which ought to give Chelsea increased cutting edge. Jose will definitely be without Branislav Ivanovic, who injured his hamstring on international duty, with centre-back Kurt Zouma, or possibly midfielder Ramires, likely to replace the stricken Serb at right back. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is still absent with his long term knee injury, so Asmir Begovic will deputise again.
    For Aston Villa, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ciaran Clark and Jores Okore will all be absent from the team sheet, with Carlos Sanchez doubtful after his international exertions with Colombia.
    In more positive news for Villa fans, both Jack Grealish and Adama Traore played in two practice games this week and should feature this weekend, giving Sherwood increased attacking options.
    As for the result, I can only foresee a Chelsea win, and a routine one at that. Mourinho is a winner and will be desperate for a return to match day after the international break. Villa need the points just as badly, but I expect Chelsea to have too much quality for the visitors.
    The bookmakers agree; with the home side priced at 1-3, the odds on a draw are 17-4, with the visitors available at a whopping 8-1.

    Prediction: Chelsea 3-1.
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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea v Aston Villa - Match Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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