Aston Villa - Chelsea Preview: Managerless Villans host Blues, with little to play for other than pride

Can Villa record just their fourth league win of the season?

Aston Villa - Chelsea Preview: Managerless Villans host Blues, with little to play for other than pride
(photo: vavel)

Eric Black will lead Aston Villa into Saturday's Premier League game against Chelsea, with Villa Park hosting the lunchtime kick-off in the first league game after the international break.

The decision was made to sack Remi Garde earlier this week, and with no replacement yet made by Villa's ever-changing board, Black will take charge of Saturday's game, one of the final home fixtures this season before the Midlands side's likely relegation from England's top divison.

It's not yet known when they'll be back up, but given that they're 12 points from safety with seven games left, few would assume anything other than that they're going to go down. It's now up to the players to motivate themselves enough to give the fans something to cheer against Guus Hiddink's Blues, and in the remaining games.

Form

It's no surprise that Garde, who only replaced Tim Sherwood in November, was sacked following a dismal run of results. After a slight upturn in fortunes in January and February, Villa have lost six league games in a row.

Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City are amongst the teams that have beaten them in that run, Villa shipping a combined 13 goals in three games against those teams. Garde's last game, however, was a 1-0 defeat to Swansea City - Brad Guzan's error allowing Federico Fernandez to bundle home the winner.

Chelsea, meanwhile, continued their slowly improving league form under Hiddink with a home draw against West Ham United last time out. Cesc Fabregas scored twice, including an 89th minute penalty to tie the game at 2-2. They're now unbeaten in 14 league games, but have only won six of those. Their form just before the West Ham draw was of slight concern, as they lost to PSG at home in Europe, before being defeated by Everton in the FA Cup.

Fabregas celebrates his equalising penalty against the Hammers (photo: Getty Images)
Fabregas celebrates his equalising penalty against the Hammers (photo: Getty Images)

Team news

There is some positive news for Aston Villa on the team news front, with exciting young wingers Jack Grealish and Adama Traore set for a return to the squad after long injury layoff's respectively. 

Gabriel Agbonlahor won't feature, much to the relief of some fans following a string of poor performances, after the club announced an internal investigation into his actions whilst holidaying in Dubai.

Chelsea are missing a couple of their high-profile stars, with Diego Costa suspended and Eden Hazard sidelined, whilst Radamel Falcao could make his first appearance since October after getting over a thigh injury.