Chelsea makes the trip to face Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon in the Aston Villa vs. Chelsea clash looking to extend their winning streak in the Premier League to four matches.
While the Blues begin the weekend sitting in the fourth position in the standings, Villa is down in 16th place despite a four-game unbeaten run of their own.
Despite the controversial and harsh nature of how Thomas Tuchel was removed from his position in the Chelsea dugout, it is difficult to argue against the feeling that Graham Potter has brought about a seismic shift in Chelsea’s performances.
After coming from behind to defeat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, the Blues have recorded three successive victories and posted clean sheets in the process, a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers sandwiched between triumphs over AC Milan.
With Wolves being without a permanent head coach and AC Milan being reduced to 10 men in the first quarter at San Siro, things have gone Potter’s and Chelsea’s way, but that should not take anything away from the level of their displays.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has chipped in with a goal in his last three appearances in all competitions, providing Chelsea with a much-needed ruthless streak in the final third.
However, it may be that retaining their sturdiness at the opposite end of the pitch proves pivotal this campaign, with Chelsea keeping three shutouts in a row for the first time since February.
If reports are to be believed, Steven Gerrard is clinging onto his Villa job by a thread, despite his side going four matches without defeat in the top flight.
Gerrard has reason to be frustrated with the missed chances that have occurred in the final third, but he has also shown a lack of willingness to significantly improved Villa’s style of play.
That may ultimately cost Gerrard his role in the dugout, but Villa will not be in a position to part ways with the Englishman if he adds a positive result against Chelsea to the draw that was achieved versus Manchester City last month.
A statistic that is in Gerrard and Villa’s favor is their defensive effort with just five goals being conceded in their last six top-flight outings.
The only time that two were conceded during that period came away at Arsenal, and the foundations are there for improvement if Villa can find some form in attack.
As well as N’Golo Kante being absent for several weeks after a recurrence of a hamstring injury, Chelsea was dealt a blow earlier this week when Reece James suffered an issue with his knee.
The Englishman will not be in contention for this game, likely seeing Cesar Azpilicueta recalled as his replacement, and further alterations are expected as Potter juggles a triple-header of Villa, Brentford, and Manchester United.
Either Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Conor Gallagher could replace Jorginho, while Christian Pulisic may start after remaining as an unused substitute at San Siro.
While Leon Bailey could return to the Villa squad after a minor muscle injury, Gerrard may consider naming the same side from the 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.
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Danny Ings is the most likely alternative in attack with Philippe Coutinho, Emiliano Buendia, and Ollie Watkins all at risk of dropping down to the substitutes’ bench.
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Watkins, Coutinho
Chelsea’s possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Chilwell; Mount; Pulisic; Aubameyang
Culled from SportsMole