How Villa could line up vs Chelsea: Key midfield change, Grealish eyes full 90 minutes

Aston Villa wrap up their Premier League season at home against Chelsea on Sunday, with Dean Smith hoping for more of the same after our win over Tottenham in midweek.

After our struggles and inconsistency since January, finishing the season well would have undoubtedly been a major objective for Smith and the players to take that confidence and momentum into the next campaign.

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Having got ourselves back on track against Spurs, we’ll be looking to see off Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea on Sunday, with the visitors to Villa Park needing a win to be sure of a Champions League qualification spot.

In turn, it promises to be a lively encounter with both sides looking for three points, and it’s expected that Smith won’t make too many changes from the side that picked up all three points in north London on Wednesday.

Team news

Matty Cash remains sidelined by a hamstring injury, and he’s joined by Morgan Sanson and Trezeguet in being ruled out for this encounter.

Ross Barkley is ineligible as we face his parent club this weekend, and so it remains to be seen if he has played his last game in a Villa shirt as his loan deal expires next month.

Elsewhere, there are no further absentees expected, while Ahmed Elmohamady and Neil Taylor will hope to get a run out as they could depart this summer given their respective contracts are set to expire.

Match preview

Chelsea have an excellent record at Villa Park, having won six of their last seven away matches against us across all competitions, while scoring more than two goals in six of those seven meetings.

Their away form this season under Tuchel has been impressive in general, while we should be expecting goals in this one as there have been over 2.5 goals in eight of our last nine games while this fixture has traditionally provided plenty, particularly in more recent times.

Villa ended a three-game winless streak at Spurs, but regardless of what happens on Sunday, we know we’re finishing in 11th place in the Premier League table and so the players will know that they are playing purely for pride and to put on a show for the returning fans.

Probable Villa XI vs Chelsea

Martinez; Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz; Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi; Watkins.

Ezri Konsa did a brilliant job at right-back in midweek and so he’ll likely get the nod over Elmohamady, while there could be a change in midfield with Douglas Luiz pushing to get back in ahead of Marvelous Nakamba.

Elsewhere, it’s business as usual with Grealish likely to be deployed in a central No.10 role again with Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore flanking him, as Ollie Watkins goes in search of his 15th league goal of the season while leading the Villa line.

Emiliano Martinez is also looking for an impressive milestone, as he’s one clean sheet away still from breaking the club record set by Brad Friedel for the most clean sheets in a single season.