Aston Villa vs. Chelsea: Complete Premier League Preview
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This is the match that kicks off the weekend's Premier League action at 12:45 GMT on May 11, and at the time of writing, tickets are still available. Both teams need a win, as despite a recent run of good form, Aston Villa are still fighting for their Premier League survival.
Chelsea could have qualified for the 2013-14 Champions League if they had managed to defend their 1-0 and 2-1 leads against Tottenham Hotspur in their 66th game of the season. While their qualification is still in their own hands, a win at Villa Park would seal it ahead of the Europa League Final and the last game of the season at home to Everton.
In the reverse fixture, Chelsea fans were given an early Christmas present as the Blues annihilated Villa 8-0 at Stamford Bridge. The scoreline is likely to be more competitive this time around as the Villans are on an impressive run of form that sees them heading into this match five points clear of the relegation zone. They have taken 10 points from their last six games and a win would see them secure their spot in the Premier League for next season.
There will be an extra incentive for the home side to win this, as club captain Stiliyan Petrov retired this week following a long battle with leukaemia. The 19th-minute applause will have extra significance this week as Villa Park bids farewell to a player who is respected by fans of all clubs.
Matt Lowton faces a late fitness test after leaving the Norwich game early with a thigh strain, but Paul Lambert will be hoping to name an unchanged starting 11 from that 2-1 win.
Rafa Benitez has said that he will start Frank Lampard, but there is still doubt surrounding the selection of John Terry. With the Europa League final to look forward to, this is the most probable Chelsea starting 11.
The most popular odds on an Aston Villa win are 10-3 (via OddsChecker), with a draw available at 5-2. Chelsea are favourites at 5-6, but Benitez will need to prove his rotational mastery and tactical genius at the most critical point of the season.
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