Only three days after a sensational 6-1 victory against second-tier Middlesbrough, the Blues return to Stamford Bridge in a buoyant mood.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Michael Carrick’s team to book their place in the League Cup final on Tuesday.
But there’s no time for celebration, as they need to keep the only other title avenue alive amidst another underwhelming Premier League campaign.
Seeking a place in the competition’s fifth round for the first time since losing the 2021/22 showpiece to Liverpool, Chelsea will be out to avenge a 1-0 league defeat on home turf earlier this season.
Visiting Villa squeaked past Middlesbrough in the previous FA Cup round 1-0, courtesy of Matty Cash’s last-gasp winner, to set up this tie.
However, Unai Emery’s side delivered a sub-par performance in their first Premier League outing of 2024, sharing the spoils with a troubled Everton in a dull 0-0 draw at Goodison Park last weekend.
Regardless of their relatively uneventful start to the new calendar year, the Lions will still fancy their chances of making it out of this stage for the first time since 2014/15.
Stamford Bridge has been Chelsea’s safe haven in otherwise tumultuous times, with the abovementioned triumph against Boro marking their fourth consecutive home win in regulation time.
You need to go back to late October for the Blues’ last competitive loss at home, with Pochettino’s charges going unbeaten in nine straight such fixtures in the build-up to this game.
Despite being often criticised for their profligacy in front of goal, Chelsea have been lethal on home turf, netting at least twice on seven occasions during that nine-game stretch.
That bodes well for their effort to move one step closer to winning their first FA Cup title since 2017/18, especially considering they’ve lost their last two matches against Villa without scoring.
Raheem Sterling could be the catalyst to turn things around in this contest after mustering ten goals and nine assists in his last 20 FA Cup starts.
While their unlikely Premier League title pursuit remains alive, as does their quest to conquer the Europa Conference League, this still feels like Villa’s best chance to avoid another trophyless campaign.
Motivation shouldn’t be in short supply around the travelling camp, even though they could sacrifice this competition for the greater good, as the Lions vie for their first FA Cup title since 1956/57.
But they’ve fared awfully in this tournament over the years, losing eight consecutive matches before narrowly edging Middlesbrough out earlier this month.
After losing their last seven FA Cup away games against fellow Premier League opponents, Villa will have to buck another trend to advance into the quarter-finals.
In doing so, they would achieve a feat they last achieved in 1960 when they racked up three successive victories at Stamford Bridge.
Despite avoiding fresh injury concerns against Boro, Chelsea are still without Christopher Nkunku, Lesley Ugochukwu, Marc Cucurella, Robert Sanchez, Wesley Fofana, Romeo Lavia and Reece James.
Nicolas Jackson is still on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Senegal, but Malo Gusto could make the matchday squad after sitting out the League Cup semi-final tie.
Emiliano Buendia and Tyrone Mings are long-term absentees for Villa, while Bertrand Traore is bidding to dethrone Jackson’s Senegal with Burkina Faso.
Lucas Digne will likely stay on the sidelines, while Pau Torres and Jacob Ramsey are expected to return to the fold.
Chelsea potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Djordje Petrovic; Axel Disasi, Benoit Badiashile, Levi Colwill, Ben Chilwell; Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez; Noni Madueke, Conor Gallagher, Cole Palmer; Armando Broja.
Aston Villa potential starting line-up:
(4-4-2): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Pau Torres, Alex Moreno; Eric Bailey, Douglas Luiz, Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn; Ollie Watkins, Jhon Duran.
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