Every time I have visited Villa Park to watch Chelsea the home fans have relied on one chant to mask their recent mediocrity: “European Cup European Cup, have you ever won the European Cup?" This weekend we travel their knowing that we can slam this song down their throats and guarantee Champions League football next season with a win.
We face a historically tough and unpredictable opponent who have unearthed a top striker and some decent young talent despite a difficult season. Villa may be nearly safe after an uptick of form but they always raise their game against us and their desire to win is unlikely to have diminished.
The last time we played Aston Villa we massacred them 8-0 at the Bridge this may play on their minds. This will be a far tougher affair and a fast start will be important to dull the enthusiasm of this young squad and keep the crowd quiet.
Villa are likely to allow us to have the ball for large periods with a preference towards quick counter attacks through Abonglahor and Benteke. Benteke has been the difference for Villa between survival and relegation and it is important that he is well marshalled.
For Chelsea we will be reliant on Hazard and Mata will be required to pick the lock of their defence rather than batter down the door, although Demba Ba is likely to start which will give us more of a physical presence.
After such a poor season it is hard to believe we have a European final next week although my bags are packed for Amsterdam. With four days between the games I hope that Rafa will resist the urge to rotate so we can assure a top 4 spot as early as possible.
I am never confident when we travel to Villa Park, regardless of their form Aston Villa have been a continuous thorn in our side and you never know what incompetence the “interim one” is going to throw into the mix. A draw would be ok but a win would set us up perfectly for Amsterdam.
Don’t be fooled by one good result against United, Rafa continues to drive the Chelsea Rolls Royce like it’s a Lada. Chelsea fans sill haven’t warmed to him and I for one cannot wait for this tactically inept fool to leave. The champagne and party hats are ready!
With one win from two games required to secure Champions League football, it would be nice to do it at Villa so we can celebrate the Munich anniversary and the fact that Rafa is leaving in style.