Premier League Preview: Chelsea v Aston Villa

They play host to Aston Villa in their final game of 2020 and the former England man is expected to make changes.

Full back pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell are both back in action after their injuries were not as bad as first feared.

But Kai Havertz and Jorginho could return to the starting team in place of Mateo Kovacic and Timo Werner.

Villa have enjoyed a much better festive period than their hosts in this one with back-to-back 3-0 wins over West Brom and Crystal Palace.

That run of results means he’s likely to make less changes than Lampard, with the suspended Tyrone Mings the only absentee, with United States international Ezri Konsa set to step in.

And this one gets going at 5.30pm at Stamford Bridge on December 28th.

Ten-man Aston Villa prove too strong for Crystal Palace

Palace nearly made the perfect start when Wilfried Zaha was played clean through, catching Tyrone Mings on his heels, but Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez was equal to the attempt.

The hosts then took the lead only five minutes in, when Bertrand Traore played in Ollie Watkins down the right and was on hand to thump the ball into the net after Vicente Guaita parried Watkins’ shot into the middle of the box.

Villa were then, however, reduced to 10-men when Mings stuck out an arm to block Zaha and was shown a second yellow on the stroke of half time.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Villa continued to enjoy the better of the game in the second half.

And the second goal that arrived in the 66th minute was no more than they deserved. Palace failed to defend an El Ghazi free-kick, Watkins headed against the crossbar and Hause followed up to score his second Premier League goal for Villa.

With Palace forced to commit more men forward, Villa looked even more dangerous, and, after Watkins saw a shot blocked, he teed-up El Ghazi for his fourth goal in four games.

The result lifted Villa into the Premier League’s top six – for a few hours at least – while Palace have now conceded 10 goals in two matches after last weekend’s hammering by Liverpool.

Southampton edge out 4-3 Premier League thriller at Aston Villa

The Saints have been on of the top-flight’s most in form teams in recent weeks and some spectacular finishing from birthday boy James Ward-Prowse just about secured all three points at Villa Park.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have developed a reputation as fast starters this season and they were on the front foot early here as Theo Walcott fired against the bar.

And with all the pressure coming from the visitors they found a breakthrough on 20 minutes as Jannik Vestergaard nodded home Ward-Prowse’s corner.

Ward-Prowse then took control of things for the Saints as the England international fired home a pair of superb free kicks before the break.

Villa did try to force their way back into the game after restart with Trezeguet and Jack Grealish both forcing saves from Alex McCarthy.

But the Saints were in no mood to let their lead slip away as Danny Ings got in on the act to make it 4-0.

Stuart Armstrong fed the former Liverpool man inside the box and he curled another brilliant effort past Emiliano Martinez.

But despite the game appearing dead and buried in the closing stages, Dean Smith’s side launched an incredible late rally as Tyrone Mings headed home Grealish’s cross.

Villa threw everything at it in the final moments as Ollie Watkins fired home from the penalty spot and Grealish tucked past McCarthy.

But in the end there just was not quite enough time to haul back the Saints.

Full Time at a brilliant end at Villa Park it’s Aston Villa 3 Southampton 4

Fulham 0-3 Aston Villa: Easy Win for Villa as Cottagers Frailties Laid Bare

Jack Grealish struck his first Premier League goal of the season to give his side a fourth-minute lead, before Conor Hourihane followed it up just over 10 minutes later.

Fulham’s defensive issues were on full show as Tyrone Mings struck just after half-time to seal the three points, before the Cottagers had a Bobby Decordova-Reid goal ruled out by VAR.

Villa were clinical in their finishing in front of goal, while Fulham struggled to trouble goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Cottagers boss Scott Parker had spoken before the game about his desire to improve the defence, and Fulham’s frailties were soon on show again.

The hosts were punished almost immediately after failing to convincingly clear the ball from the back.

John McGinn sent in a well-weighted cross to Grealish who made no mistakes in front of goal, slotting the ball past Alphonse Areola.

Fulham’s challenge was then made more difficult, when Hourihane struck his first goal of the calendar year to double his side’s lead in the 15th minute from another McGinn assist.

Grealish starred in the centre of midfield, creating numerous chances for the visitors, while Parker’s side struggled to establish themselves on the game.

Last season’s Championship top-goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic often cut a lone figure in the box, with the Villa defence matching every cross which came in looking for the Serbian forward.

Villa all-but wrapped up the three points at the start of the second half, as an unmarked Mings put the ball past Areola from a Hourihane free-kick.

Fulham looked to have pulled one back when Decordova-Reid had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was reviewed to VAR for a possible foul in the build-up.

Following a lengthy review, and after consulting the pitchside monitor, referee Stuart Attwell disallowed the goal for a foul by Mitrovic on Ezri Konsa in the box.

The hosts were limited to long-range efforts as the game drew to a close, with Villa able to hold off the challenge to secure a clean sheet.

Premier League Preview: Fulham v Aston Villa

Scott Parker’s side have endured a tough return to the top-flight, with defeats against Arsenal and Leeds in the last fortnight.

The home side are in strong need of a positive result, and Parker should be boosted by a fully fit squad to pick from.

Bobby Decordova-Reid and Neeskens Kebano both impressed off the bench against Leeds and could add some much-needed freshness to the Cottagers.

Villa have fared much better in the opening weeks of the campaign, with three wins in league and Carabao Cup action.

Dean Smith also has no fresh injuries to cope with, but he is set to make changes for this game.

After changing his entire side for the midweek cup win at Bristol City, Smith will recall his big guns for the trip to the capital, with Tyrone Mings, Jack Grealish and John McGinn all coming back in.

Kick off is 5.15 on Monday night at Craven Cottage.

Aston Villa sack Sporting Director over poor player recruitment

Just a day after Villa had secured Premier League survival by virtue of a 1-1 draw with West Ham, the club moved to dismiss Pitarch, who oversaw £140m of spending on players last summer.

It’s understood that the powers that be at Aston Villa are unhappy with the player recruitment this season, but are happy with manager Dean Smith – reports claim that he would have stayed at Villa Park regardless of whether the club were relegated to the Championship.

Smith is allegedly responsible for the capture of Tom Heaton and Tyrone Mings, but several underperforming signings such as Wesley, Marvelous Nakamba and Mbwana Samatta were all on the Sporting Director’s watch.

Whoever the club bring in to replace the outgoing Jesus Gracia Pitarch will have a job on their hands, with their first task the unenviable challenge of keeping hold of star player and talisman Jack Grealish.