Chelsea hosts Aston Villa on Wednesday night in both teams' second game of the Barclays Premier League season. The match at Stamford Bridge will be the only mid-week Premier League fixture and its occurrence is due to Chelsea's involvement in the UEFA Super Cup next weekend, making them unable to play any league games. Both teams go into the game high with confidence after opening day victories. Chelsea beat Hull City 2-0 at home while Villa won 3-1 against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. In the corresponding fixture last season, Chelsea dismantled Villa 8-0.
Jose Mourinho will be happy with his team's performance against Hull City on Sunday. The first half display in particular earned his team a standing ovation from Chelsea fans. Villa, however, represents a tough test for Chelse'a credentials as title contenders. Mourinho was not surprised by Villa's result against Arsenal and expects a difficult challenge on Monday.
"They are a good team so it is not such a big drama, they can beat any one of the contenders," he was quoted as saying in the Guardian.
The Portugese manager was slightly disappointed that his team was only able to win 2-0, having dominated the game.
"We want to win matches, but what I like is that when you have the chance to destroy, to beat them by three, four or five, we have to do it," he continued. "If someone has the chance to do it to you, they will not forgive you, they will give you nothing."
With a weekend fixture against Manchester United approaching, Mourinho may decide to rotate his squad. Juan Mata, Andre Shurrle and Demba Ba were all on the bench for the Villa game and could be in contention to start.
The Mata situation is of particular interest. With the Spaniard being one of Chelsea's best players last season, his lack of involvement in the Hull game was surprising. Mata's relegation to the bench maybe an indication of Mourinho believing he does not fit the style the manager wishes to implement.
Villa manager Paul Lambert has been handed a difficult opening to the league season. The trip to Arsenal on Saturday is followed by the away game against Chelsea and a home game against Liverpool.
Villa will be buoyed by their victory against Arsenal and will be keen to avenge last season's heavy defeat at Stamford Bridge. The only new injury concern for Lambert is Nathan Baker, who twisted his ankle in the Arsenal game. Chris Herd and Charles N'Zogbia, who missed the weekend game, are unlikely to feature. Yacouba Sylla is available after recovering from injury.
Villa have a poor recent record at Stamford Bridge. They have won only one of their last 11 games at the stadium, losing seven and drawing three. Furthermore, the Birmingham team has not left Stamford Bridge with a clean sheet in the last 15 years.
Much of their hopes rest on Belgium striker Christian Benteke, who was irrepressible in the game against Arsenal. The player held the ball up superbly and his physical presence caused problems for Arsenal's defenders.
Where to Watch
Kick-off is at 12:15 am IST (Thursday, 22 August) and live coverage is available on Star Sports, ESPN and ESPN HD.