Chelsea return to Stamford Bridge as they take on Aston Villa 48 hours after their 3-1 defeat at struggling Arsenal.
The defeat at the Emirates means Frank Lampard’s side have now lost three of their last four Premier League matches to leave them in eighth place.
However, despite a poor string of results, the Blues are only two points behind fourth placed Manchester United and four points adrift of second placed Everton.
Chelsea will also be more confident facing the in-form Villans on home soil having lost just once in seven league outings at the Bridge this term.
Lampard saw his side win this fixture 2-1 last season thanks to goals from Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.
Now the ex-England midfielder will be hoping for another three points as he aims to get back to winning ways.
Following a poor performance against Arsenal, we’re expecting the Blues boss to make a number of changes for the match against Villa.
But which players will he select to try and secure three points at Stamford Bridge..?
Here we predict the Chelsea starting XI to take on Aston Villa…
Despite the defeat at Arsenal, there wasn’t much goalkeeper Edouard Mendy could do to prevent his side from falling to defeat. The Senegalese stopper, who has been great since signing from Rennes, will be back between the sticks again and aiming to secure a seventh Premier League clean sheet in 12 matches.
Chelsea’s defence has been much imporved since the arrivals of Mendy, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell. But the latter two were far from their best at the Emirates and could drop out in favour of Antonio Rudiger and Emerson, especially with the Villa match coming just 48 hours after the poor Arsenal performance. Reece James, who surprisingly returned from injury to face the Gunners, is also expected to drop to the bench with club-captain Cesar Azpilicueta starting at right-back. This means that Kurt Zouma is likely to be the only defender to keep his place after Boxing Day.
Lampard’s favoured first-choice trio of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount started in the defeat at Arsenal, but were largely out fought in the middle of the park. We’re fully expecting Kante to keep his place in the XI but Jorginho, who missed a penalty after coming on against Arsenal, could start in place of Kovacic. Mason Mount may also be given a breather with club-record buy Kai Havertz given an opportunity in an attacking midfield role.
The biggest area for competition in this Chelsea side certainly comes in attack and Lampard will rotate his front-three against Villa after a lacklustre display against Arsenal. Olivier Giroud would’ve been disappointed not to feature at his old side but should return to lead the line ahead of Tammy Abraham for this one. Elsewhere, Timo Werner could be dropped. The German has not scored in his past 10 games in all competitions and Callum Hudson–Odoi impressed when he came on in his place on Boxing Day. Hakim Ziyech is still sidelined with a hamstring injury so Christian Pulisic will continue on the flank.
Predicted Chelsea XI vs Aston Villa:Mendy; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Havertz; Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Giroud.