CAHILL: GREAT LEADER, GREAT GUY

Gary Cahill has spoken about Stiliyan Petrov's retirement from football ahead of today's game against Aston Villa.

The Villa captain announced his decision on Thursday as he continues his recovery from acute leukaemia.

Chelsea were the first visitors to Villa Park after Petrov was diagnosed with the illness last March, and Cahill, who played alongside him during his time at the club, expressed his disappointment at this week's news.

'It's sad,' Cahill tells the official Chelsea website. 'I was privileged enough to play alongside him. He captained the side a few times when I was there, he's a great leader, a great guy off the pitch and I'm sure if you speak to a lot of people they'd say the same.

'I bumped into him last year when we played there and spoke to him in the hotel. He was a great player, a great person and he'll be a miss, he was hugely respected at Villa.'

Petrov announced in his retirement statement he is in remission from the illness.

'The main thing is always your health. Obviously everybody wants to play football, we saw something similar with Fabrice Muamba, but the most important thing in life is your health and your family.'

Petrov

The game itself is a massive one for both teams, with the Blues searching for the win that would all but guarantee us a top-four finish, while Paul Lambert's side are still looking to preserve their Premier League status.

Cahill acknowledged the importance of the game, and is expecting an intense atmosphere inside the stadium.

'There's a lot at stake for us and there's a lot at stake for them,' says the Blues defender. 'They've been on a good run of late and I think the atmosphere will be electric. It might give Villa an extra lift so that's something to be aware of, it's a huge game for us.'