By Jude Kankara
The Blues received a bitter gift on New Years Eve from a very buoyant Villa side who capitalised on Chelseas poor defensive showings under recently sacked coach Andre Villas Boas, and the Londoners have picked up a miserable three points from their last twelve trips to the Midlands.
They have drawn a whopping seven games and lost of those games, to go with that woeful 1-3 loss at the Bridge on New Years Eve.
To add insult to injury, Chelsea have lost their last three away games in the Premiership, 0-2 to Everton, 0-1 to West Brom and 1-2 to Manchester City.
So Chelsea are hoping to atone for their misadventure on the road and against a Villa side who are without their striker Darren Bent due to injury, captain Stylian Petrov(illness) and Charles Nzogbia (knee), meaning coach Alex McLeish will have to rely on an ageing Emile Heskey, and Gabriel Agbonlahor who is their top scorer with a meagre six goals.
Interim Chelsea coach Robert Di Matteo will not surprise anybody by reeling the same starting line-up against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League last Tuesday as he continues to rotate around an immense but aging Chelsea side he inherited a few weeks ago.
Salomon Kalou, who scored a vital away goal on the night is expected to start alongside Fernando Torres who provided him with the vital assist. Torres on the other hand, though yet to fulfil his goalscoring form, seems rejuvenated with his strength, visibility and contributions on the pitch especially those against Benfica, and Leicester in the FA Cup last week.
Didier Drogba though may not be a surprise inclusion to the squad judging from his immense contribution to the team in successive matches and also Ivanovic, who is fit to appear after picking up a thigh injury before Tuesdays game.
January signing, Gary Cahill, who played thirty games for Villa during his spell in the Midlands from 2005-2008 ,should have something in the offing for the rejuvenated Blues side with his magnificent runs that have also produced a handful of goals.
The home side have scored a meagre three goals from their last six games, and lie 15th in the league while Chelsea continue to chase a Champions League spot from their present fifth position.