How Villa could line up vs Chelsea: Defensive boost, but will Gerrard make changes?

Aston Villa host Chelsea on Sunday afternoon looking to make it five games unbeaten, but also trying to pick up a first win in three.

Steven Gerrard has seen an improvement in our defensive performances, as we’ve conceded just two goals in our last four games while keeping two clean sheets.

However, we’ve also managed just three goals in those four outings and so there is a major improvement needed in our attacking play as we’ve missed big opportunities in the last two games to secure wins.

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With that in mind, the pressure is still on Gerrard as we’ve yet to turn the corner entirely, and so he’ll be eager to secure a major win this weekend over Chelsea which could be the confidence boost and catalyst for us to kick on and really start moving in the right direction.

Conversely, particularly a heavy defeat and perhaps even another drab draw could raise real doubts over where we go next with him at the helm.

Signs point to minimal Villa changes, if any at all

Despite the fact that key individuals are out of form, particularly in the final third, Gerrard continues to drop hints that he will stick with those who he has relied on in recent months in a bid to help get them to where they need to be.

“I know certain players are not in the form they should be in,” he told the media on Friday, as per the Express and Star. “Have I given them too much support in some people’s eyes? I would have to accept that. But there’s also an experience from myself that sometimes you’ve got to play through it.”

“If people want to criticise me for being too loyal to one or two individuals there will be a reason for it. It’s not favouritism, it’s because of the importance that they have in the team and where I need to get them to for the team to be better. But I’ll never be a manager who is scared to drop a name or a big name. Not at all. If that’s the case or that’s your opinion of me, trust me, you’re wrong.”


Coupled with his ongoing assessments of our performances where he has praised the defensive solidity that we’ve found and ultimately he believes that we’re just missing a big moment or two in attack, there is a feeling that he will simply continue with his preferred line-up and hope that we come good.

While we’ve been waiting for personnel and even a system change for weeks, it hasn’t been forthcoming, and so it would be a surprise for it to happen now, against a top side, in a game where the pressure is still on us.

If there is a slight tweak, it could come in attack as with Philippe Coutinho still struggling to offer a decisive influence in the final third, Gerrard could favour going two up top again with Danny Ings coming in to support Ollie Watkins to add a more clinical presence up front.

Emiliano Martinez will continue between the posts, and with Matty Cash back from injury last week and confirmed as being available again this week despite missing a training session as per Gerrard, he will partner Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Ashley Young in the backline with Lucas Digne still sidelined.

In midfield, Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz are expected to continue, and although there are suggestions that John McGinn could be at risk of dropping out, it would be a surprise to see the Villa captain demoted to the bench for such a big game.

Emiliano Buendia came in against Nottingham Forest and will hope to keep his spot as he needs a run of games to find his form instead of constantly coming in and out of the XI, and although Leon Bailey is available to play after recovering from his own setback, it would be a surprise to see him come straight back into the starting line-up.

Aston Villa predicted XI vs Chelsea: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, J.Ramsey; Buendia, Coutinho, Watkins.

Possible Aston Villa XI vs Chelsea