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Chelsea vs Aston Villa Preview: Crucial Christmas Run Starts

The 5-1 victory over Leeds United may have put us into the semifinals of the Capital One Cup, but it has only papered the cracks. This is because Chelsea still remain 13 points behind Manchester United – albeit with a game in hand. United will most probably extend that lead to 16 points before our match against Aston Villa kicks off this weekend. Hence, it is imperative that Chelsea take all three points from this encounter.

That said, it will not be easy because Aston Villa are on a great run of form. After a poor start to the season, they are undefeated in the last six matches. The form of their striker Benteke has also been excellent during this period. Benteke has been seen as only a target man up until now, but he has started scoring goals as well.

Rafa Benitez has confirmed that John Terry will miss the match and quite possibly the Christmas fixtures too. Branislav Ivanovic, who has been inconsistent in the last few matches, has a real job on his hands.

Chelsea will be playing for matches in the space of 10 days. Benitez has been speaking about the condition of his players. He is expected to make significant changes to the team, but Fernando Torres is expected to continue as the striker. This has been to a certain extent a bogey fixture for Chelsea in recent times. We have not won at home against Aston Villa since the 7-1 drubbing back in 2010.

Benitez ahead of the Aston Villa match:

“Terry trained today, just running. He was on the pitch but he is not available yet. He was not training with the ball, just the warm-up.

“They are doing well and it seems they are comfortable with the system, three at the back with wing backs, and they have good options in counter-attack because [Christian] Benteke is a good reference point.

“This is a crucial time. It is important because there are a lot of points available.”

Possible team line-ups:

Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Torres

Aston Villa (3-5-2): Guzan, Herd, Clark, Baker, Lowton, Westwood, Holman, Bannan, Lichaj, Weimann, Benteke