Chelsea v Aston Villa: Live banter, links, team news and squad rotation

Where do we begin? Away at Chelsea isn't easy; we haven't won at Stamford Bridge since before Roman Abramovich took over and since that victory we have let in seventeen goals, but we have progressed against the better teams since Martin O'Neill has come in, so there is a chance we will do the same today.

For transparency, I should also say that since we won 3-1 at Chelsea in 2002, we have scored six goals but five of those have come while Martin O'Neill has managed Aston Villa. So, it is quite clear he has got us scoring in West London.

Shades of the future


I fancy that after the games this weekend we will still be in seventh place but it is possible things could be different and it is also possible things could get a little tense, if results go how they could.

A draw could see us move up to sixth, three points could see us move to fifth and just to demonstrate how tight it is, we could actually lose and still move up a place after the matches this weekend.

But and I don't like saying I told you so, Everton are the team to watch. Despite the start they had, I did sort of predict earlier this year that they would come good and if we lose and they win today - they could, mathematically, move ahead of us and we could drop to eighth. We won't, as it would need us losing five-nil and Everton winning five-nil, but it does go to show how close things are.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill
We have a few problems. I'm not going to go into any great detail. A lot of players went for scans yesterday and the news is generally upbeat although that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will be fit for Saturday. In the longer term basis the players are relieved it's not any fantastic damage done. At this stage of the season, these things can occur obviously. They can occur at any given time but particularly now.

I have seen it so often in the past. You are coming into a really difficult end of the season when you are playing a lot of games - you've had postponed games - and they are coming at you thick and fast. That's where you're hoping the squad system can come into play. Now we haven't changed that many things over the last couple of months. Players have all wanted to play. I said a couple of weeks ago, we will have a look at it. Tomorrow against Chelsea, I definitely think there will be a few changes in the team.

The point has been raised for some considerable time that we have some excellent players in the squad waiting to play. And I'm sure they are chomping at the bit. If this is an opportunity for some of those players to play, well that's fine by me. One or two might consider themselves hard done by to be classed as squad players. One or two have been unlucky not to be in the starting line-up.

Early team news

Well, too difficult to predict, but yesterday I did say that I only expect to see Heskey not make it but I'm thinking today that maybe there will be more changes. Only time will tell and we will know in a few hours and we will update this page.

Links and links and updates

If you are not going to Chelsea today you know you can watch the game here and I have no doubt somebody might drop a link or two below. We will also be doing updates here and via Twitter. So, if you are out shopping with the other half - you can always get updates - wherever you are.

Team News

Big Brad, Luke Young, Ricardo Dunne, The Ginger One, Stephen Warnock, Milly, Sidwell, Petrov, Webcam, Gabby and Carew.

The bench: Guzan, Beye, King Carlos, Davies, Salifou, Downing and Delfouneso.