Aston Villa - Chelsea Preview: Blues battle relegation strugglers

Bottom of the league Aston Villa host middle of the pack Chelsea at Villa Park in Saturday's early kickoff.

Aston Villa - Chelsea Preview: Blues battle relegation strugglers
Source: VAVEL UK

Saturday's early kickoff sees Aston Villa welcome Chelsea to Villa Park, just days after the club and manager Remi Garde parted ways after just four months. Aston Villa currently sit bottom of the Premier League and are all but relegated with seven games to go while Chelsea are tenth in the table and have nothing left to play for this season.

Since Garde's departure, first team coach Eric Black is tasked with managerial duties for the remainder of the campaign and his first test is against a fellow interim manager, Guus Hiddink.

Team news

Aston Villa: It will take a miracle for Eric Black to lead Villa to safety this season as they sit 12 points from safety with seven games to go.

The Midlands club look set to welcome back Micah Richards this weekend after he has recovered from his groin strain. Jack Grealish and Adama Traore could also return against Chelsea after missing extended periods with foot injuries. 

Jordi Amavi is out for the season with an torn ACL while Libor Kozak's return is clouded with a foot injury.

Projected XI: Guzan; Hutton, Lescott, Richards (c), Cissokho; Westwood, Gueye, Gil, Veretout; Ayew, Gestede.

Chelsea: The Blues will be hoping to end this horrid season on a high note and a win at Villa Park on Saturday will be a chance to give their fans something to smile about.

Kenedy and Diego Costa are likely to be back this weekend from their small injuries and the international break came at the perfect time to allow any knocks to heal. Eden Hazard's hip problem could keep him out for one more week, adding to the long list of woes in his campaign. 

Radamel Falcao's Chelsea career has been nothing short of a failure and injuries have hurt any chance of him getting a game. His muscle problem may seem him return to fitness this week or next. Kurt Zouma continued rehab from his torn ACL and is out until mid-August.

Projected XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas; Pedro, Oscar, Willian; Diego Costa.

Can Hiddink help Chelsea end on a high? | Source: Chelsea FC.
Can Hiddink help Chelsea end on a high? | Source: Chelsea FC.

Background

Aston Villa have beaten Chelsea twice in their last ten attempts, holding them to a draw once.

The last victory came back in 2014 with Fabian Delph scoring the only goal of the game.

Chelsea are currently 25 points ahead of Aston Villa, who are 20th in the league.

Chelsea's top scorer this season is Diego Costa, who has netted 11 times in 31 games this year. Aston Villa have struggled for goals this year, with their top scorers, Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew, scoring just five times all season.

Players to watch

Aston Villa - Jordan Ayew: This team has struggled heavily from start to finish but Jordan Ayew has shown slight glimpses of his ability. The striker has scored five times during the campaign and against a leaky Chelsea defence, Ayew may find some joy.

Chelsea - Diego Costa: The Spaniard has been superb since Guus Hiddink took charge at the club and despite an injury, he looks set to return this weekend. If his form persists, the worst defence in the league may be in for a long afternoon.