Aston Villa vs Chelsea Preview

Defender Luke Young is in the squad for the first time this season as Aston Villa prepare to face Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Young suffered a thigh injury during pre-season and was then given compassionate leave after the death of his brother.

But the former England player is back in contention after coming through a midweek reserve game unscathed and will be battling with Carlos Cuellar and Habib Beye for a place.

Gabriel Agbonlahor is set to keep his place up front after his competitive England debut against Belarus in midweek with Emile Heskey likely to be amongst the substitutes.

Boss Martin O’Neill feels Villa will go into the game with the Blues full of confidence after their win at Liverpool and home draw with Manchester City.

He said: “While it is important psychologically to do well against the top sides, I’m not so sure it is a pointer to the whole season.

“Having said that, we have played two games against teams with genuine aspirations at the top end of the league in Liverpool and Manchester City and those games will give us confidence when we face Chelsea.

“I thought our performance against City was brilliant, especially in the first half, and will be a boost when we come up against a team which will find whoever finishes in front of them will probably win the Premier League.

“They have been a terrific side for several years, have enjoyed a golden period in their history, and possessed some of the best players in world football.”

O’Neill also welcomes the takeover at local rivals Birmingham with new owner Carson Yeung pledging to spend up to #40million in the January transfer window.

O’Neill said: “It would be good news, particularly if the owners are putting a lot of money up in January.

“That can only be good for Birmingham and well done to them.”

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech returns from suspension for he clash.

Hilario, who deputised in the 2-0 victory over Liverpool, will drop to the bench for the clash at Villa Park.

Midfielder Michael Ballack has been ruled out with the ankle injury sustained on international duty with Germany.

Chelsea could temporarily extend their lead at the Barclays Premier League summit to five points.

An emphatic 2-0 victory over title rivals Liverpool nearly a fortnight ago restored the confidence dented by their shock 3-1 defeat at Wigan.

It was the Blues’ only blemish in 11 matches this season and Ancelotti is adamant the performance was not evidence of difficulties on the road.

“We want to play like we did in the game against Liverpool, not Wigan. If we play like we did against Liverpool we can win,” he said.

“If we play like we did against Wigan we’ll have a problem. We’ve won away at Sunderland and Stoke this season. Only at Wigan was there a problem.”

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