Aston Villa have enjoyed an excellent start to life under manager Steven Gerrard, winning four of their six games under the Englishman. However, a recent outbreak of the pandemic in the Villa camp has halted progress after last weekend’s game against Burnley was postponed, meaning the Villans haven’t played for 12 days.
It appears as though Gerrard’s side have recovered from the outbreak and are set to host Chelsea as planned this evening, with the West Midlands side five points off of the top six.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have struggled for consistency in recent weeks amid numerous injuries, winning one of their last four Premier League outings.
The contest could prove an opportunity for the Villans to claim a major scalp, but also a chance for Gerrard to experiment with a trip to Leeds to come just two days after Chelsea. It is time for the Aston Villa boss to hand youngster Carney Chukwuemeka a start.
Described to be “at a different level” by a former youth coach, Chukwuemeka has been a name that has been mentioned regularly amongst the Villa faithful this season with the 18-year-old starting to become a regular fixture in first-team squads and has featured in three of Gerrard’s games in charge.
Handed his first Premier League start by Dean Smith in August, the midfielder has slowly made progress this campaign despite reports of rejecting a new contract offer.
The Englishman has come off the bench against Manchester City, Leicester and Norwich and registered the assist for Ollie Watkins’ late clincher at Carrow Road last time out. He is certainly starting to knock on the door.
Gerrard, who will be absent from the touchline over the next two games having tested positive for the virus and could be tempted to change things up a bit with a hectic fixture schedule. Furthermore, the midfield may require some tinkering with Marvelous Nakamba facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The £2.25m-rated youngster will certainly be an option for the Villans in the coming games and, with injury and illness affecting the squad, a first Premier League start since August could be pending.