Chelsea aim to remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, as they welcome Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge on Saturday (10:00 AM EST). Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, rested a number of key players midweek in the Capital One Cup against Bolton, most of whom we can expect to see back in the starting lineup on Saturday. However, there were impressive performances from the likes of Filipe Luis, Oscar and Andre Schurrle, who will be hoping they’ve done enough to earn a start against Villa.
GK: Thibaut Courtois
The 22-year-old Belgian won the starting spot from Petr Cech this summer and has started all five of Chelsea’s Premier League games this season. Courtois has been good, especially when claiming crosses out of the air. Until Chelsea lose, there is no reason to think his spot is in jeopardy.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic
The Serbian has been a force at right back this season. Strong in the air and a very physical defender by trade, Ivanovic has grown as an attacker, already scoring twice this season. Look for him to be key on set pieces and to get forward as often as possible.
CB: John Terry
The 33-year-old Chelsea Captain returns to the squad after being rested midweek against Bolton. Though it looked as though Terry was on the decline a few seasons ago, he has shown a return to form over the last year or so. What he now lacks in pace, he more than makes up for with his ability to read the play.
CB: Gary Cahill
Cahill and Terry led the league’s best defense last season, and have started all five games this season. Cahill has been learning from Terry, and it is becoming more and more likely he will be The Blues next captain. Cahill, a tremendous shot blocker, brings pace to the back line and provides another big body on set pieces.
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta
It is very simple. Azpilicueta is simply too good a defender to be left out of the lineup. He is a natural right back and the Premier League’s best left back. Until Ivanovic looses form or gets hurt, Azpilicueta will stay at left back with Luis the odd man out.
CM: Nemanja Matic
After three and half years at Benfica, Matic returned to Chelsea last January. He quickly replaced John Obi Mikel in the defensive midfield role and hasn’t looked back. Matic is a great tackler, strong in the air, and is rarely out of position.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
6 assists in 5 games and 18 chances created (the most in the League). A dynamic midfielder who provides the crucial pass when it is needed. Furthermore, his ability to control the pace of the game takes a lot of the pressure off younger players like Hazard and Oscar. Look for Fabregas to add to his assist total and possibly open his scoring account.
RM: Andre Schurrle
Schurrle and Willian have both been given chances in midfield this season, though they’ve only completed the full 90 minutes once each. The German World Cup winner is a slight favorite to start after a menacing performance against Bolton, where he did everything but score.
Another player who made the most of Chelsea’s League Cup game, scoring the winner in the 55th minute from about 20 yards out. The big concern with Oscar is whether or not he can make it through a full season. With Ramires likely out, look for Oscar to be positioned just in front of Fabregas.
LM: Eden Hazard
Hazard has the potential to grow into the best player in the world. The ball seems to stick to his feet as he weaves his way through defenders. He looks best when he cuts into the box from the left, where he can either shoot or provide the decisive cross.
ST: Diego Costa
Costa is quickly making Chelsea fans forget about how dreadful their strike force has been in the past few seasons. With 7 goals in 5 games it appears to be all about goal scoring. However, it is the runs Costa makes off the ball that put him into that elite category of strikers. Look for him to cause trouble for a Villa backline lacking pace.