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Chelsea-Aston Villa Preview
Though the complexion of the sports world and the Premier League's place in it look different at the moment, Chelsea are ready get going again.
The Blues look to extend their Premier League unbeaten stretch to four games on Sunday against host Aston Villa, who have already experience football out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Chelsea (14-6-9) will be one of the last teams to return to the pitch after play was halted in mid-March. The Blues, who entered the lockdown fourth in the table, had just rolled to a 4-0 rout of Everton on March 8 when played stopped. Now, though no fans are in the stands and players might be a little on edge whilst returning to action amidst a pandemic that's still ongoing, manager Frank Lampard and his squad are trying to stay focused on the task ahead – and what they can control.
"We all feed off atmosphere inside packed stadiums, what it does to your adrenaline and how that makes the game run," Lampard told Chelsea's official website. "It's the beauty of the Premier League, but we have to inject that in ourselves. The players, individually and collectively, have to be a bit selfish about it. They must want to perform at their highest level.
"There are big things at stake in this game. There is a lot of work to be done. There is a lot competition for the top four places. We are in that battle. We need to be at our best in these games to amass enough points to get us there."
Lampard announced some good news for Chelsea fans in that Ruben Loftus-Cheek could possibly feature for the first time since May 2019. He appears to finally be recovered from a torn Achilles. Meanwhile, teammate Tammy Abraham leads the club with 15 goals over all competitions.
Abraham had a goal with an assist as Chelsea topped Aston Villa 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Dec. 4. Villa have dropped five straight league games against the Blues.
Aston Villa (7-5-17), who sit in the middle of the relegation zone, have gone five consecutive league matches without a victory. However, they managed to end a four-game slide by picking up a point with Wednesday's scoreless draw versus Sheffield Field.
Updated June 19, 2020