Chelsea

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Chelsea, teetering on the brink of yet another on-field disaster, attempts to make up for Premier League mistakes in the FA Cup, where Aston Villa awaits Wednesday’s rematch of the fourth round.

After exchanging goals in a goalless draw in West London, the teams reassemble at Villa Park, with the midweek winner facing either Plymouth Argyle or Leeds United at home.

Before Aston Villa arrived for their knockout match on January 26, Chelsea had strengthened the walls of their besieged Stamford Bridge stronghold. Despite the Blues’ abundant possession at their West London home, neither team was able to punch a straight ticket to round five.

With just one point from their encounters with Everton and Newcastle United, Unai Emery’s Aston Villa team had all but vanished from the Premier League title race heading into this weekend’s match against Sheffield United. The dull draw in the capital was the second of three games in which the team had lost.

Aston Villa’s victory over Middlesbrough in their FA Cup debut match is their best result in the competition since 2015–16. Prior to 2023–24, the Villas had seven consecutive third-round exits; however, since making it to the 2014–15 final, the Lions had not advanced past the fourth round.

Aston Villa lost 4-0 to Arsenal, the 14-time champions of the FA Cup, on that tragic day at Wembley. Chelsea, on the other hand, comes to Villa Park having also let up four goals in the English capital, although just a few days ago instead of nine years ago.

Wolverhampton Wanderers hadn’t won the league double against the Blues since the 1974–1975 season, but Gary O’Neil’s clinical charges ended that 49-year run on Sunday. Matheus Cunha’s incredible hat-trick and an own goal by Axel Disasi made Cole Palmer and Thiago Silva’s efforts meaningless.

Mauricio Pochettino faced the music and acknowledged that his position in West London is far from secure after seeing his team lose their heartwarming winning home run in such disastrous circumstances. The 11th-placed Blues, who have now conceded four goals in back-to-back Premier League games, are stuck in the uncomfortable familiarity of mid-table.

In addition, Chelsea has lost six of their past seven away from Stamford Bridge due to a rough road schedule. However, although the Blues are not in the form book, history shows that they have won eight of the last nine FA Cup replays.

The Blues also won at Villa Park in the 2021–22 and 2022–23 Premier League seasons, but they have since lost three games against the Lions without scoring a goal, and they could lose four straight against Aston Villa without scoring a goal, which would be a serious black mark on Pochettino’s record.

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