Aston Villa vs Chelsea: Best formation, lineup, substitutes, tactics, prediction

Chelsea return to Premier League action following another standout performance against AC Milan as Graham Potter extended his unbeaten run as Chelsea boss to five matches.

The Blues will look to extend that to six matches against Aston Villa on Sunday and secure their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Potter has been no stranger to making changes to his team and following the last game against Milan, made seven for the visit of Wolverhampton Wandered.

The former Brighton boss will have to make at least one adjustment to his team that started at the San Siro, with Reece James set to see a specialist for the knee injury he picked up in Italy. With the volume of games October and November presented, more changes are sure to be on the way.

“Well, I think we have quite a few games in a short space of time,” Potter said in his press conference. “So we’ve had to use the group as wisely as possible which we’ve done. I’ve been really impressed with the guys, their attitudes have been fantastic. There are still a few lads that haven’t had game time but that isn’t because they’ve done anything wrong, they can field eleven.

“So the main focus now is to go game to game and keep progressing. I don’t think we’re at the maximum in terms of where the team is at, we’re not at the limit and there is more to come from the team and individuals. So always keep an open mind and we will see.”

With James set to be out for the foreseeable future, Cesar Azpilicueta would be the most direct replacement in Chelsea’s first team squad. Perhaps Potter may opt to use Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Christian Pulisic, Raheem Sterling or Hakim Ziyech at wing-back as the weeks go on, but given Azpilicueta’s success against Wolves, it seems the most sensible solution for now.

However, the captain’s introduction to the XI under Potter may also require a formation change. So far under his new coach, Azpilicueta has been deployed on the right of a back four which should see Trevoh Chalobah and Thiago Silva retain their places but Kalidou Koulibaly and Ben Chilwell could be sacrificed.

Marc Cucurella could bring some freshness to the line up and was again provide the versatility to play as a left-back and on the left of a back three when supported by whoever Potter choose to take a place on the wing.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek return

Chelsea’s midfield combination has been on a consistent rotation since the return from the international break, meaning Ruben Loftus-Cheek could return to the starting lineup. The Cobham product has probably been the Blues’ most influential central midfielder this term and may be used alongside Mateo Kovacic once again.

Mason Mount rest

Mason Mount has found his way back into form under Potter and as a result has had plenty of impact in a role where he has been encouraged to attack. Chelsea’s two-time player of the season has started every match so far under Chelsea’s new coach and will likely be afforded a rest some time. With Chelsea’s accumulation of injuries, it’s perhaps a case of the sooner, the better. Though maybe his 45 minute outing against Milan has already been judged to have done that job.

If Potter does just to replicate the system from Wolves, Kai Havertz could move further back and play behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against Villa, while Conor Gallagher once again lines up to the right to impose his pressing and support Azpilicueta.

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