Who wants the points most? Aston Villa and Chelsea need them for very different reasons. Former Blue Clive Walker ponders what will decide their final destination.
'As a result of the draw against Tottenham, Chelsea are less able to rest players ahead of next Wednesday's Europa League final having not already secured the top-four place.
'So we have to play the best team we possibly can to assure that Champions League qualification and hope everyone is fit again to travel out to Amsterdam. Luckily Benfica are in a pile of difficult fixtures too.
'Against Tottenham midweek there may have been some signs of tiredness in a number of our players for the first time in a while. Regarding rotation it is now about those who have and haven't played too many games.
'Rafael Benitez has already announced Frank Lampard will return to the fray at Villa. He has a terrific scoring record against them - 12 goals for Chelsea - and they haven't kept a clean sheet in 20 league games. Frank is also one of those so experienced at closing out matches and finals at this end of the season.
'The reverse fixture this season was 8-0 to Chelsea. That will have hurt Villa and a scoreline like that can scar players for a while. They won't be looking forward to it but will want to put it right. However they need to strike a fine balance as they're still not safe and know better than most what we can do.
'They have improved a lot in recent weeks without really hurting a top side. It's difficult when you're a youthful team growing up in public. They've often played well for periods in games before losing their way.
'Chelsea have several youngsters the same age but we have a winning formula and they're alongside players who are very experienced. So there's that balance which is easier to assimilate into when you're starting out.
'The key to the revival Villa have had has been the form of their three frontmen. He gets caught offside more than anyone but Christian Benteke has continued to score goals and Gabriel Agbonlahor has come back to being the force he was a while back. I've always liked Andreas Weimann (pictured below), right from seeing him in their youth team.
'However they can often play as individuals rather than a threesome - there's not a great deal of chemistry or interaction between them. They're about pace and power, with the ball supplied from deep, often by Ashley Westwood in the holding role. They are always looking to play it to Benteke's feet or to the other two down the channels.
'They play 4-3-3 and are quite fixed in their roles, whereas some sides are far more fluid. They move forward in waves and can get stretched when they lose possession, trying to get back in position. Chelsea can be deadly in those situations.
'Villa's is a back four still trying to gel and maybe lacking a leader who will take responsibility. Chelsea have players who can exploit that but need to efficient in front of goal.
'We will be looking to profit at corners where they seem to concede quite a lot. Experience tells in those situations. We've seen Lampard and Juan Mata take well-worked corners and there's a communication with teammates - movement, blocking runs in the box etc - that maybe some youngsters have not come up against before. We were very dangerous at corners against Tottenham.
'The Villa midfield and defence often leave room for the opposition - as was the case in the 3-0 defeat at Man United - but right-back Matt Lowton is a player who has gradually found his way. He's a talent and had played every minute until he was substituted in the win at Norwich last weekend with a thigh injury, but they are hoping he may return.
'On a personal note I'd like to wish Stiliyan Petrov all the best on his retirement from playing and in his battle with acute leukaemia. I feel for him having to retire, especially the manner of it, but he's had a good career and is in remission - long may that continue.'
For Villa, Matthew Lowton faces a late test on his thigh. Defender Ciaran Clark (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (thigh) remain unavailable.
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Chelsea have lost one of our last nine Barclays Premier League games.
The Blues have opened the scoring in 25 Premier League matches which is higher than any other club. We have gone on to win 18 games and draw six. Only West Ham have defeated us.
The Blues are 11 points better off compared to the corresponding 36 fixtures last season.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term. We have dropped 18 points from winning positions
We have dropped eight points in the Premier League this season from the 85th minute onwards (Swansea away, West Ham away, Reading away, Newcastle away and Liverpool away).
|Last six results|
|Apr 21||Liverpool (a)||D 2-2|
|Apr 25||Basel (Europa League a)||W 2-1|
|Apr 28||Swansea (h)||W 2-0|
|May 2||Basel (Europa League h)||W 3-1|
|May 5||Manchester United (a)||W 1-0|
|May 8||Tottenham (h)||D 2-2|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 13 (5 pens), Mata 11, Hazard 9 (2 pens), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 5, Ramires 5, Oscar 4 (1 pen), Terry 4, Ba 2, Cahill 2, D Luiz 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Sturridge 1, own goals 3. Total 71
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 3
ASTON VILLA STATS
7 League championships, last in 1981
1 European Cup in 1982
1 UEFA Super Cup in 1982
7 FA Cups, last in 1957
5 League Cups, last in 1996
1 shared Charity Shield in 1981
Aston Villa's best season in the Premier League was runners-up in 1992/93 with 74 points, 10 behind champions Man Utd and two above third placed Norwich.
At home this term they have won 20 points from a possible 54 with five wins against Swansea, Reading, West Ham, QPR and Sunderland, five draws with West Brom, Norwich, Arsenal, Stoke and Fulham and eight defeats to Everton, Man Utd, Tottenham, Wigan, Southampton, Newcastle, Man City and Liverpool.
Villa are in their best form of the season winning five of their last eight games.
Aston Villa have not kept a clean sheet since the goalless draw with Stoke on 8 December, 21 Premier League games ago. It is the longest current run in the top flight.
Manager Paul Lambert
Days in charge: 343
|Villa's last 10 year Premier League history|
|Last six results|
|Mar 31||Liverpool (h)||L 1-2|
|Apr 6||Stoke (a)||W 3-1|
|Apr 13||Fulham (h)||D 1-1|
|Apr 22||Man Utd (a)||L 0-3|
|Apr 29||Sunderland (h)||W 6-1|
|May 4||Norwich (a)||W 2-1|
Premier League scorers
Benteke 18 (3 pens), Agbonlahor 9, Weimann 7, Bent 2, Lowton 2, N'Zogbia 2, Clark 1, El Ahmadi 1, Holman 1, Vlaar 1. Total 44.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 2
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Lee Mason is refereeing his fourth Chelsea game of the season. The others were the 4-2 win against Reading in August, the 5-4 League Cup match against Manchester United and our 0-1 defeat to QPR all at Stamford Bridge.
There are no suspensions