Villa predicted XI vs. Chelsea: Smith makes big system change, ace with 96 PL minutes starts
Chelsea – Aston Villa was always going to be an interesting affair. But the recent international break has made this contest that much more intriguing.
Incredible scenes in Argentina resulted in Villa stars Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia be forcibly deported from Brazil just minutes after the huge South American derby had kicked off.
Moreover, the Brazilian FA have triggered a clause to FIFA which will now prevent the likes of Thiago Silva from competing this weekend.
Indeed, it was an international break with enough drama that a Latin soap opera would be proud of. And for Villa, it means they will be in for a big test against Chelsea this weekend with two key plays now out due to quarantine.
So, how will Villa line up against the European champions Chelsea this Saturday?
Steer replaces Villa star Martinez against Chelsea
The big chance for the backline will be the lack of Martinez. The Argentine number one has established himself as one of the top keepers in the Premier League since his move from Villa to Arsenal last year.
The 28-year-old played every Premier League minute last season. And replacing the South American will be impossible for Villa, meaning Jed Steer, who has played just 96 top-flight minutes in his entire career, will have some huge shoes to fill.
Protecting the former Norwich City keeper will be the usual suspects of Matty Cash, Tyrone Mings and Matt Targett, with Axel Tuanzebe filling in for Ezri Konsa, who remains a doubt for the weekend.
Smith switches to 4-4-2
With Buendia also out, Smith could make a wild card move and decide to change the team’s shape. Indeed, for this XI, we have gone for a 4-4-2 formation.
Douglas Luiz and John McGinn anchor the midfield, whilst Anwar El Ghazi and Ashley Young man the wings.
With Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey not 100% fit, El Ghazi and Young will likely operate as old school wide-players who are robust down the channels and do all they can to feed in balls to the attacking two.
Watkins and Ings lead the line
Speaking of the attacking two, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings lead the line in our predicted XI.
The former Southampton star has been in excellent form since swapping the south coast for Birmingham. And alongside the prolific Villa no. 11, the duo could cause Chelsea some real problems.
Watkins could flourish with a hard-working like Ings alongside him. And the strikers could be unleashed together this weekend in west London given the hand Smith has been dealt with injuries and unavailability.
Aston Villa predicted XI vs. Chelsea – Steer; Cash, Mings, Tuanzebe, Targett; El Ghazi, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Young; Watkins, Ings