Match Preview: Chelsea at Villa Park

We didn't do great against Chelsea last season. In fact we picked up nothing, but the games, if I remember right, were decent. The season before we were better and picked up four points and I fancy this game on Saturday will be a good one that we could get something from.

You see, we play better against the better teams. Not because we need the challenge, but it is how we are set up to play. We struggle against the lesser teams because we don't know how to play against them, sorry, that is wrong, it's not that we don't how to play, it's that we don't have the players to play against them and our style is very geared up to counter attacking football.


Which is why we do better against the better teams. The better teams look for the goals and we can counter and deal with their attacking. The other teams sit back and we struggle breaking them down because we don't have the quality.

This is why I'm predicting three points on Saturday and why we rarely get thumped by the Sky four. Yes, we have had our fair few thumpings from them, but mostly from Manchester United and we've also done quite well against the others.

Not including this season, we've picked up six points from Chelsea and Arsenal since O'Neill took over and three from Liverpool (including the three from this season would make it six also). Okay, our one point from a possible eighteen against United is a bitter pill, but not many teams pick up points against Manchester United and they are also much more adaptable than most other teams.

But Chelsea are Chelsea and if you wanted a demonstration of how persistence pays then this is the team to watch and of the top four, one of the easiest to play against. The thing is, while you sort of know what they are going to do before the game starts their quality is just so hard to play against and they will create opportunities and they will likely score.

But, there isn't a better manager in the league than Martin O'Neill at getting his players to do exactly what he wants them to do and we are stronger than last season and we have better players than we did last season.

Talking about players, there is a good chance that we will see Luke Young back for Saturday which will likely mean Carlos is on the bench, which possibly means Beye isn't. With Warnock at left back, it is a pretty strong defence and if we play with an extra man in midfield or ask Carew to come back into midfield again, then it will be hard for Chelsea.

Key men for me on Saturday are going to be, once again, Webcam, Milner and Gabby. Webcam and Milner will track back and Gabby will be working those channels and as long as we create the chances we will always score, it's just going to be a case of scoring more than Chelsea, because as I said above, they will likely score too.

I also know that this next part is a bit of a cliché but it really is true; Villa Park needs to be loud. This twelfth man thing is used by all clubs these days but it is used because it works. Maybe it only gives 1% but 1% from five or 10 different places makes a difference and could very well be the difference on Saturday.

So, I'm having a tenner on Villa because we are 3/1 and I think PaddyPower are making a mistake.