After their polished start to Jose Mourinho’s second-coming against newly-promoted Hull at the weekend, Chelsea have an early opportunity to move three points clear at the top of the Premier League table as they entertain an Aston Villa side buoyant from their shock victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.
This match is being played 10 days early due to the Blues’ involvement in the UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich but coming only three days after their opening Premier League encounter, “the Special One” may elect to rotate his squad heavily ahead of the visit of Paul Lambert’s side.
The likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle, Demba Ba, Romelu Lukaku, Michael Essien and Marco van Ginkel are all vying for starts as any from John Terry, Ramires, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne and Fernando Torres may be rested having started against the Tigers at Stamford Bridge. Brazilian defender David Luiz however is still absent with a hamstring injury.
For Villa, manager Lambert will be keen to play as similar side as possible to the one that swept past Arsenal so impressively in North London. On the counter-attack, the visitors were simply electric and consequently one would expect the much-vaunted front three of Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor, an outstanding performer against the Gunners, to all start.
A change will have to be made in defence however as Nathan Baker misses out with the ankle injury that forced him to come off at the weekend, meaning his replacement on the day Ciaran Clark should start.
Elsewhere, Yacouba Sylla returns to a squad after a foot injury but Chirs Herd and Charles N’Zogbia remain long-term absentees.
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