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With these teams having 17 absent players between them it’s going to be very difficult to forecast how the match will unfold.
But if there’s anything we can be certain about, it’s that the visiting Chelsea fans will take great delight in reminding the Aston Villa manager about the lowest point of his career.
Steve Gerrard, Gerrard. There’ll still be people singing it to him when he’s living in an old people’s home, poor fella.
Aston Villa v Chelsea – Sunday, December 26: 5.30pm
Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Of far greater concern to the former England skipper will be steering his new side to their first ‘big’ win of his tenure. Since Gerrard took over, Villa have beaten Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Norwich, but have lost to Manchester City and Liverpool.
They won’t get many better chances than this to defeat one of the Premier League’s established big six clubs but that doesn’t mean it will be easy by any means.
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As much as Chelsea have dropped a few points recently, they still have a record of 10 wins and four draws from their 14 matches against teams who spent Christmas outside the top five in the table.
The Blues have also drawn their last two matches in the Premier League, and they haven’t tied three in a row for almost 10 years. None of which is to say they can’t fail to win once again, of course.
But Aston Villa have lost five of their six games against the big boys in 2021/22, and their one victory would’ve been a draw if Bruno Fernandes hadn’t been intimidated by Cristiano Ronaldo when taking a penalty.
Chelsea got a good win in the League Cup at Brentford in midweek, so as this should be a close match back the away side to win by exactly one goal.
Villa are certainly capable of scoring though, particularly as Chelsea’s backline has looked less than secure in recent weeks.
The Villans are one of only three teams in the division who have scored in every home league game so far this season, and they have only drawn a blank in one of their six matches under Gerrard too.
And while the Blues kept Wolves at bay – a team who’ve averaged all of 0.7 goals per game in 2021/22 – the likes of Leeds, West Ham and Zenit St. Petersburg have all scored at least twice against them this month.
This should be a match in which both teams score.
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These sides love a corner. They are joint-top of the league (along with West Ham) for assists from corners this season and are also joint-third for set-piece goals in total. While that shows how potent they are in dead-ball situations, no team has a crazy high conversion percentage.
Villa and Chelsea score quite often from corners because they take a lot of corners. It’s simple this stats lark, isn’t it? And since Gerrard came in, the Villans’ matches have gone corner crazy, with an average of 12.8 and never fewer than nine in his six matches. With that kind of form, over 10.5 corners looks to be a lock.
Martin Atkinson isn’t the most booking happy referee the Premier League has to offer but he gives them out at an above-average rate. And with the records of these teams, the chances are he’ll be dishing out a few Christmas cards at Villa Park on Boxing Day.
On the Paddy Power Cards Index – where each yellow card is worth 10 points and each sending off is 25 – Aston Villa and Chelsea are among the divisions top eight sides, each with an average of 43 points per match.
And their strengths in this area should align too. Thomas Tuchel’s side have the highest total of opponent card points in the Premier League, while Villa are fifth for those collected themselves.
As the home team will have plenty of defending to do in their quest for a positive result, this match should have over 30 card points without too much trouble. And if all four tips come in to complete our bet builder, we’ll all be having a very happy Christmas.
Aston Villa v Chelsea tips
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