The final Saturday game of the season is nearly upon us. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton take a close look at a meeting in the Midlands with high value for both sides…
The disappointing draw with Tottenham preserved our proud unbeaten home record against them, stretching back to 1990, but handed our other London rivals Arsenal a Champions League lifeline.
The Blues require three points from the remaining six available at Aston Villa this weekend and home to Everton next to secure a top-four finish. On Sunday Spurs travel to Stoke, where they lost twice last season in league and cup.
Arsenal were beaten 1-2 when Wigan last paid a visit but the endangered Latics have injury blows and an FA Cup final to navigate before that Tuesday meeting.
Villa are five points clear of Roberto Martinez's side but with a similarly poor goal difference (thanks largely to Chelsea) and the two clubs face each other on the last day of the season.
Martinez is the bookmakers' favourite to replace Manchester-bound David Moyes at Goodison; Everton are the Blues' final visitors of the season.
The race for the Champions League - Games remaining
|Aston Villa (a)||Wigan (h)||Stoke (a)|
|Everton (h)||Newcastle (a)||Sunderland (h)|
A win against Spurs would have allowed the Blues to relax a little ahead of next Wednesday's Europa League final. Our opponents in Amsterdam, Benfica, now find themselves in the same boat this weekend.
Having drawn at home to Estoril the Eagles are two points ahead of deadly rivals Porto at the top of the SuperLiga, with a visit to the Estádio do Dragão on Saturday. With one more league game to play after that Benfica dare not lose and will have to field a full-strength side.
The youngsters of Chelsea and Villa met on the banks of Lake Como back in April in the NextGen final for U19s. The Villans, coached by 1980s Blues midfielder Tony McAndrew, survived the Londoners' waves of pacy but profligate attacking to win 2-0 with two second-half penalties.
The Midlanders' roller-coaster first team season - they are still not quite mathematically safe from relegation - has been ascribed in part to them depending on a large number of inexperienced players.
Yet their NextGen success and a run of five wins from their last eight matches suggests that the investment in youth at every level may be fruitful. It did not look that way in December when they shipped 15 goals in three Premier League games without replying.
The first in that sequence was, of course, the 8-0 (EIGHT, for Teleprinter fans) defeat at Stamford Bridge (pictured below), which set a club record for Chelsea of seven different goalscorers. The game also featured seven of the same Villans involved in their recent 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland.
The definition of young is sometimes arbitrarily applied in football. There are no teenagers in that Villa septet of Baker, Bennett, Benteke, Guzan, Lowton, Weimann and Westwood.
The majority are 22 or 23 - the same age as César Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses. Weimann is youngest at 21, the same as Oscar and Oriol Romeu. Rarely are Chelsea's players afforded the same indulgence for youthfulness as Villa's.
An era ended in English football this week. Fifteen different Chelsea managers locked horns with Sir Alex Ferguson over his 26 hugely successful years at Old Trafford:
Hollins, Campbell, Porterfield, Webb, Hoddle, Gullit, Vialli, Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo and Benitez.
No other opposition manager has faced Chelsea anywhere near as many times.
|Chelsea's record against Sir Alex Ferguson's teams|
We faced Ferguson's United in two semi-finals, losing in the 1996 FA Cup but delivering his first ever loss at that stage of a domestic competition in the 2004/05 League Cup.
We met in three finals: the FA Cup in 1994 and 2007, and the 2008 UEFA Champions League. Of the four penalty shoot-outs endured, Chelsea won one and Manchester United three.
He was often generous about Chelsea and the Blues will be the last team Ferguson lost to in the Community Shield, League Cup, FA Cup and, quite possibly, the Premier League, thanks to Juan Mata last weekend.
The Blues stretched our lead over other clubs for most wins against Manchester United in the Premier League. We now have 14 victories, 57 points and 56 goals against the Red Devils - all more than any rival.
The Pensioners have left Old Trafford with 25 points and six wins in the Premier League era, again the best record of any visiting team.
By small coincidence the first Chelsea player to score against a Ferguson side in February 1987 was a Hazard - but an English Micky, not a Belgian Eden.
That game followed a 1-0 win at Old Trafford that hastened the departure of Ferguson's predecessor, Ron Atkinson. United finished the season just four points ahead of the Blues and Ferguson was under pressure to deliver success.
In February 1990 when the Blues earned a 1-0 home victory to go sixth, it left United languishing in 15th position. The manager's future was secured that season by lifting the FA Cup.
Since then Ferguson has proved an anomaly: the unique example that longevity in the hotseat can deliver repeated success. Chelsea FC has wished him a happy and healthy retirement. United and football may never see his like again.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v Chelsea 12.45pm Sky Sports
Stoke v Tottenham 1.30pm Sky Sports
Everton v West Ham 3pm
Fulham v Liverpool 3pm
Norwich v West Brom 3pm
QPR v Newcastle 3pm
Sunderland v Southampton 3pm
Manchester United v Swansea 4pm Sky Sports
Arsenal v Wigan 7.45pm Sky Sports
Reading v Manchester City 8pm Sky Sports
We are now just one short of the all-time goals tally in one season, set in the 2009/10 Double season under manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Most Chelsea goals in a season
142 in 2009/10
141 in 2012/13
121 in 1964/65
117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07
112 in 2011/12
110 in 2008/09
|Barclays Premier League table|
|Fear of the drop|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Robin van Persie 25
Luis Suarez 23
Gareth Bale 20
Christian Benteke 18
Demba Ba 15
Rickie Lambert 14
Romelu Lukaku 14
Dimitar Berbatov 13
Eden Džeko 13
Frank Lampard 13
Theo Walcott 13
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Joe Hart 17
Petr Cech 14
Pepe Reina 13
Asmir Begovic 12
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Last season's 4-2 victory at Villa Park was only our second there in 13 attempts - 14 if you include the League Cup tie in 2003. The other was a 1-0 victory in Guus Hiddink's first match in charge in February 2009.
Chelsea's most successful sequence at Villa Park was in the Nineties, when four successive wins were registered in the second half of the decade.
A few years earlier, on 2 September 1992, Ian Porterfield stewarded the Blues to a fine 3-1 victory in the Midlands over Ron Atkinson's side.
Kevin Richardson opened the scoring for the Villans after half an hour but Chelsea clicked soon after and to such an extent that £2.1m striker Robert Fleck poached his first goal for the Blues five minutes before half-time (pictured below). Two minutes later young midfielder Eddie Newton gave the Londoners the lead - his second in two league games - after a one-two with Fleck.
Within 15 minutes of the restart Fleck and Newton again combined to provide an opportunity for Vinnie Jones. His shot rebounded to Dennis Wise, who drilled the ball under Nigel Spink to complete a 3-1 win.
Our last 10 league meetings at Villa Park
2002/03 - Villa won 2-1
2003/04 - Villa won 3-2
2004/05 - Drew 0-0
2005/06 - Drew 1-1
2006/07 - Drew 0-0
2007/08 - Villa won 2-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 1-0
2009/10 - Villa won 2-1
2010/11 - Drew 0-0
2011/12 - Chelsea won 4-2
The reverse fixture this season
23 December 2012 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea..……..….…8 Aston Villa….……..……0
D Luiz 28
Ramires 75, 90+1
Oscar 78 pen
Chelsea v Aston Villa in all competitions
Games played 145
Chelsea wins 55
Villa wins 56
Head to head in the league at Villa Park
Games played 65
Chelsea wins 15
Villa wins 31
Biggest league win at Villa Park for each team
15/04/1952 - Aston Villa 7-1 Chelsea
17/09/1966 - Aston Villa 2-6 Chelsea
Chelsea failed to score in the Premier League: 76
Aston Villa kept a Premier League clean sheet: 154
Liverpool won the league: 8,407
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,912
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.