'T was the last game before Christmas, and club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton have been stirring to supply a comprehensive build-up to Sunday's game…
On Sunday we re-enter the Premier League campaign after a three-match absence in cup competitions. Few teams below took of advantage our absence. We were 10 points shy of the leaders following the West Ham defeat and virtually any win will restore our third-place slot.
Chelsea now enter a phase of six league matches that could have a decisive effect on our season. They offer the possibility of improving our tally by 13 points on results against the same opposition last season.
Of these six, one was won (QPR at home) and two drawn (Norwich and Stoke away) in 2011/12. The remainder were defeats, including Aston Villa - winners at the Bridge for the first time since 2002.
The festive programme can be a defining period and twice under Jose Mourinho - in 2004 and 2005 - the Blues achieved four league wins from four at this time of year.
Only two of the next nine games, from Sunderland on 8 December through to Southampton in the FA Cup 3rd round on 5 January, are to be staged at Stamford Bridge. Given the scheduling of this weekend's matches Chelsea may find themselves in seventh place with two games in hand before this game kicks off.
This is Villa's third successive away game and they have scored seven in the previous two.
Three days after this game, on a train-less Boxing Day, Chelsea travel to Norwich City for a three o'clock start, Villa entertain Spurs at 17.30, then Liverpool visit Stoke for a 19.45 match. West Ham's trip to Arsenal the same day has been postponed as a result of strike action over Bank Holiday pay.
Wednesday night's impressive 5-1 Capital One Cup win was the first time Chelsea have scored more than three at Elland Road, and retained our 100% cup success rate versus Leeds. The bad-tempered 1951/52 FA Cup second replay ended in the same scoreline but it was played at neutral Villa Park.
At the Bridge we have previously beaten the Whites 7-1 (1935), 6-0 (1933) and 5-0 (1984).
The Blues have now hit 16 goals in three Capital One Cup matches this season.
Before May Villa fans were fond of querying 'Have you won a European Cup?' at Stamford Bridge, having won the trophy themselves in 1982. They will have to chant that at other London clubs from now on.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Wigan v Arsenal 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Manchester City v Reading 3pm
Newcastle v QPR 3pm
Southampton v Sunderland 3pm
Tottenham v Stoke 3pm
West Brom v Norwich 3pm
West Ham v Everton 3pm
Liverpool v Fulham 5.30pm - ESPN
Swansea v Manchester United 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea v Aston Villa 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Aston Villa remain potential adversaries in the Capital One Cup. The last time the two sides met outside the requisite league fixtures was in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley that the Londoners won 3-0.
A fortnight earlier Martin O'Neill's side visited the Bridge in the league. The Midlanders enjoyed a false dawn when John Carew equalised Frank Lampard's early goal, but our midfielder hit the net three more time (two from the spot) as Carlo Ancelotti's men tore through the visitors.
Lampard became the club's third-highest goalscorer that day. Florent Malouda (two) and Salomon Kalou completed a remarkable 7-1 scoreline. John Terry wore the captain's armband for a record 325th time on the occasion of his 450th appearance.
Villa's surprise victory at Stamford Bridge last season was their first here since May 2002. It ended Chelsea's unbeaten home run against the Villans of seven wins and three draws.
The Blues have scored 21 goals against Aston Villa on their last six visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
2001/02 - Villa won 3-1
2002/03 - Chelsea won 2-0
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Chelsea won 1-0
2005/06 - Chelsea won 2-1
2006/07 - Drew 1-1
2007/08 - Drew 4-4
2008/09 - Chelsea won 2-0
2009/10 - Chelsea won 7-1
2010/11 - Drew 3-3
2011/12 - Aston Villa won 3-1
Other match last season
31 March 2012 Barclays Premier League
Aston Villa……..….2 Chelsea………..……4
Collins 76 Sturridge 8
Lichaj 79 Ivanovic 50, 82
Chelsea v Aston Villa in all competitions
Games played 144
Chelsea wins 54
Villa wins 56
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 65
Chelsea wins 33
Villa wins 19
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
27/03/2010- Chelsea 7-1 Aston Villa
19/09/1931 - Chelsea 3-6 Aston Villa
Chelsea won at home in the Premier League:78
Aston Villa won in London: 358
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,773
Liverpool won the league: 8,268
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.