Chelsea at Villa Park: Prediction, odds and hope

Chelsea at Villa Park isn't one of those matches you go looking for when the fixture list comes out. Aston Villa at Chelsea also isn't one of those matches you look for, unless you are an Aston Villa fan living in London. Chelsea is just like a normal match, although this time they do come to Villa Park as Champions and League leaders.

It is a big match, but not because of local rivalry or because of a grudge or because they are a team we are trying to emulate. It is a big match simply because they are the Champions, always willing to throw more money at managers and players to buy win the league. Also, whatever the result, it means little.

Don't get me wrong, it would be fantastic to win, what I mean is, if we win, it doesn't mean we are all of a sudden contenders. It means we beat Chelsea, that is all. Maybe next season and most certainly the one after that, if we beat Chelsea at Villa Park, then we should be able to look at it as a benchmark, but just now, three points on Saturday just means three more points.

The luxury of time

A new manager at Chelsea won't get the luxury of time that Gerard Houllier will at Aston Villa. If a new manager doesn't win anything in his first full season at Chelsea, don't be surprised to see him replaced and that is why, whatever the result, we just have to take it in our stride.

Gerard Houllier is going to need time and because he arrived after the transfer window shut, that time is going to be spent on how we play football. He won't change everything, instead he will work on the details and whenever you try to change anything, it is always the details that you need to spend the most time and it is always the details that need the most work.

So, we will give him time and hope that it comes good. It could on Saturday and I wouldn't be surprised if it did, but we shouldn't get carried away.

Questions to a Chelsea fan

I know a Chelsea supporter. His name is Steve and he lives in Birmingham. Thinking about it, I know another one called Steve that lives in London, but I've just remembered him. I asked three questions and I've had to tidy up the responses, but here they are.

You come to Villa Park on Saturday as Champions and some say Champions elect. What are your expectations for the season and what do you think you will get from Villa Park?

Hard to say with any certainty what we will get on Saturday as Villa Park can be a stubborn place to play and having only won twice in the League since 2000, predicting a win could very well end up with me having egg, bacon and ketchup all over my face. But, we will win the League again and we'll confirm it in April.

Which Aston Villa player do you think can make an impact in this match?

Has to be Ashley Young, Stewart Downing or that young lad you have on the right (that'll be Marc Albrighton) and I know I'm telling you what you want to hear but they are your three attacking players and you will only get something if you come at us.

Finally, what do you see happening for Aston Villa this season?

I think I agree with your assessment you told me earlier that this is a season of change for you. Sixth to eighth is a place you should be happy with and a run in one of the cups. If you got to another final this season, I wouldn't be surprised and Houllier knows how win a cup or two.

Prediction, odds and hopes

Hope is a big word and something that really shouldn't be used when talking about what I'd like to see under Gerard Houllier. The word worked well under the previous manager because he was the last one to figure quite a few things out, but I'm using it, so here goes.

I'd hope the manager continues playing with Webcam in the hole and a variation 4-5-1 - or to be a little more precise 4-2-3-1, but I don't think I need to hope, I think he will because I think he knows it is the way forward, or the way of the modern game.

In terms of prediction, I'm going to play safe and say a draw and maybe have a cheeky bet on us leading at half time but drawing in 90 minutes. As such, the odds below include half time and full time as well as final result.