Aston Villa host Chelsea on Boxing Day, as the festive fixtures roll on.
Before seeing their previous outing against Burnley postponed due to Covid-19 cases, Steven Gerrard's men had fallen to a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool. However, that and a 2-1 loss to Manchester City are the only games Villa have failed to win under their new boss. Four victories in six have given Gerrard a very promising start to life in Premier League management, with Villa rising to tenth in the table.
Chelsea visit Villa Park in the midst of a rough patch of form. Thomas Tuchel's men are in serious danger of falling by the wayside and making it a two-horse race for the Premier League title, slipping to third after a run of just three wins in eight games, leaving them six points behind leaders Manchester City.
While injuries and Covid-19 absences haven't helped their cause, consecutive disappointing draws with Everton and Wolves in their previous two have simply not been to the side's usual standard.
The Blues were, however, handed a boost on Wednesday night as they saw off Brentford 2-0 to seal a first victory in three and a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
Here's 90min's preview of an intriguing Boxing Day match-up.
How to watch Aston Villa vs Chelsea on TV/live stream
When is kick off? Sunday 26 December, 17:30 (GMT)
Where is it being played? Villa Park, Birmingham
What TV channel is it on? Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Showcase (UK), fuboTV (US)
Highlights? BBC Match of the Day (UK), Sky Sports Football YouTube channel
Who's the referee? Martin Atkinson
Who's the VAR? Stuart Attwell
Aston Villa team news
Gerrard recently admitted he still hadn't a clue what his team would look like come Sunday, citing that the Covid-19 situation "seems to be changing in (his) world on an hourly basis".
After seeing their previous fixture against Burnley postponed due to a rise in Covid-19 cases it may be safe to assume that, with the time in between games, Gerrard should be able to call upon a selection of first-team regulars who will have returned to action.
However, the manager insisted that he could call upon a number of youth players for Sunday's clash.
What is certain is that Gerrard will be without Marvelous Nakamba, Bertrand Traore and Leon Bailey as all three continue on their roads to recovery.
You can read a predicted lineup for Aston Villa here.
Chelsea team news
There are some positives and negatives regarding coronavirus-enforced absences for Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel revealed on Wednesday that Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi have registered negative test results and they have since returned to training per the new government guidelines.
Timo Werner, however, continued to test positive so the German forward will continue his isolation period. The same applies to Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheeks, who tested positive for the virus days after the aforementioned trio.
Elsewhere, Ben Chilwell will certainly continue his stint on the treatment table with Hakim Ziyech likely joining him. Andreas Christensen has returned to training.
You can read a predicted lineup for Chelsea here.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea head-to-head record
The 159 encounters between these two clubs have produced a fairly even record over the years. Chelsea, as you'd imagine, come out on top slightly with 66 wins compared to Aston Villa's 58 (35 draws).
Recent times, however, have of course favoured the Blues. In the last 15 meetings between the two sides, Chelsea have won 12 while Villa have managed to taste victory on just two occasions.
The most memorable tie in recent years has to be the 8-0 drubbing Rafael Benitez's side handed out to Paul Lambert's Villans in the 2012/13 campaign.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea prediction
Well, we can be pretty sure we won't get an 8-0 humiliation to analyse this time around. In fact, what we will most likely get is something far tighter than we'd have expected in the early stages of the campaign.
While the league positions and quality on paper vary hugely between the two sides, recent form would suggest quite an intriguing battle is in store.
Although the Chelsea lineup should look more like the dynamic machine we're so used to for the trip to Villa Park, their hosts have been visibly energised by the arrival of Gerrard and have proved stern opposition for the elite and unmanageable for direct rivals.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1-1 Chelsea
Source : 90min