Soccer tips: Aston Villa vs Chelsea - both teams to score the smart play at Villa Park

Uncertainty over team news makes the Boxing Day clash a tough one to call but recent history says both sides should be able to get on the scoresheet.

It's four wins out of six for Steven Gerrard since taking over at Aston Villa; an impressive start.

His only dropped points have come against the top two, Manchester City and Liverpool, Villa losing by just a single goal in both matches.

Next up he gets to challenge another big gun as third-placed Chelsea head to Villa Park, a venue where they lost on the final day of last season.

When: Sunday, December 26, 17.30 GMT

Where: Villa Park

Follow this game via our score centre

Best bets for Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Both Teams to Score at 10/11

Jorginho to score anytime at 10/3

Ollie Watkins to score anytime at 14/5

Like every Premier League team at the moment, Villa are having to deal with the fast-developing COVID-19 situation.

It led to their home game against Burnley being postponed last weekend and this one looked doubtful too. It may still get pulled, of course.

The game with Sean Dyche's men was called off due to Villa having fewer than the minimum 14 players available.

Gerrard hopes to get a couple of players back but the uncertainty remains obvious. "We're going to need a bit of luck, we're going to need some testing results to go our way," said the Villa boss.

A change in government isolation rules to seven days from 10 could help although it seems likely that Villa will have to use a few fringe players at least.

Chelsea have also been affected. They had seven players ruled out with COVID and were forced to blood several youngsters in the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Brentford.

Thomas Tuchel will have to leave his team selection until late in the day

They came through that 1-0 and boss Thomas Tuchel has been boosted by the return to training of two of those who had tested positive, Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

For now, it seems the game goes ahead. But trying to predict team news is nigh on impossible.

Last three meetings

Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa (September 22, 2021)

Just 11 days after playing Chelsea in the Premier League, Villa returned to Stamford Bridge and forced a 1-1 draw before the hosts went through to the last 16 on penalties.

Timo Werner gave Chelsea a 1-0 lead nine minutes after the break but Cameron Archer's header 10 minutes later was enough to secure a shootout.

Ashley Young and Marvelous Nakamba missed for Villa, while Ben Chilwell hit the bar for Chelsea but the Blues progressed after Reece James slotted home the winning penalty.

Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa (September 11, 2021)

Two goals from Lukaku ensured a comfortable-looking victory for the hosts although the scoreline was rather deceptive.

The summer signing from Inter had never scored at Stamford Bridge in his first spell at the club but changed that after just 15 minutes.

Villa had plenty of chances to equalise but Mateo Kovacic added a second for the Blues shortly after the break and Lukaku iced the cake in injury time.

Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea (May 23, 2021)

On a dramatic final day to the season, Chelsea needed to win to guarantee a top-four spot. They fluffed their lines but Leicester's defeat to Spurs meant they booked a Champions League spot anyway.

Bertrand Traore gave Villa the lead shortly before half-time and Anwar El Ghazi doubled the hosts' lead from the spot after 52.

Chelsea pulled one back through Chilwell on 70 but they couldn't make further inroads and Cesar Azpilicueta was sent off late on. Thankfully for Tuchel, the result proved academic.

Past 10 meetings

Aston Villa wins: 1

Draws: 2

Chelsea wins: 7

Aston Villa goals: 7

Chelsea goals: 21

Villa could be value but BTTS looks best

It obviously all worked out for Chelsea last season when, despite defeat here on the final day of the season, they still made the top four and then landed the ultimate prize by going on to lift the Champions League trophy.

But it was an uncomfortable afternoon for Tuchel and the odd bad memory could come flooding back.

Two wins over Villa this season, one via a shootout, suggest the Blues have got the upper hand again but the dynamics are very different this time.

The game is in Birmingham, Gerrard is now the opposition boss and both teams won't be able to send out their first-choice XIs.

Steven Gerrard will want to put one over Chelsea

Chelsea got back to winning ways in the cup against Brentford in midweek but they've frittered away plenty of points in the Premier League lately, being held to draws by Everton and Wolves in their last two top-flight outings.

Tuchel's men are just 4/6 for the win, while the draw is 11/4 and Villa a hefty-looking 4/1.

Chelsea look short while draw backers might want to know that Villa haven't had one in their last 14 Premier League games. Does that mean they're due, perhaps?

I'd be sorely tempted by that Villa price if they could field a strong team but that remains to be seen.

However, with both sides having to make changes and backlines disrupted, a safer bet is to back Both Teams to Score at 10/11.

That landed in the recent Carabao Cup tie in a game that featured several fringe players.

And given that Villa have scored in 13 of their last 14 PL home games and Chelsea in 16 of their 18 away league matches under Tuchel, the stats are very much in our favour.

Goalscorer bets for Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Again, uncertain team news isn't our friend for this section of the preview.

If Lukaku does play it's hard to recommend him given that he's netted in just one of his last 12 Chelsea matches.

Penalty king Jorginho is worth a bet

Contrast that with Blues midfielder Jorginho who has seven goals in his last dozen games thanks to Chelsea's ability to win penalties and his prowess at tucking them away.

Jorginho is 10/3 to score anytime and that's worth a play.

For Villa, I'm drawn towards Ollie Watkins at 14/5.

The England man certainly seems to be flourishing again under Gerrard and has three goals in his last six matches.

At Villa Park it's two in three after goals against Brighton and Manchester City.

Ollie Watkins is in the goals again

Villa haven't played since Watkins scored at Norwich on December 14 so the striker will be fresh and raring to go.

READ MORE: 4-3, 4-4, 3-3, 6-1, 5-2: Remembering five classic Premier League Boxing Day matches

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