Kovacic and Kante return, Expected Chelsea line-up (3-4-2-1) vs Aston Villa

Chelsea travel to Villa Park for this evening’s Premier League encounter against Aston Villa.

The Blues have drawn back-to-back games in the top-flight, and will be desperate to return to winning ways.

They are already six points behind leaders Manchester City, and can’t afford to lose further ground in the title race.

Ahead of the game, Tuchel has been handed a boost with the return of Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Andreas Christensen to training.

The trio are likely to make the matchday squad, but it is uncertain whether they will be fit enough to earn a starting role against the Midlands outfit.

How Chelsea could line up against Villa:

Edouard Mendy is due to report with Senegal for the African Cup of Nations next month, and he looks set to miss the Liverpool encounter.

Before that, the Blues have two outings against Villa and Brighton. He is widely expected to start in both as the first-choice Premier League goalkeeper.

The central defence could see a minor tweak from last weekend. Trevoh Chalobah could come in to partner Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger in the back three.

Reece James and Marcos Alonso are automatic starters in the wing-back positions. The latter has experienced a mixed run of form, but should keep his place with Ben Chilwell injured.

Saul Niguez had a positive impact in midweek, but he may not start against an Aston Villa side following his dismal experience on his Premier League debut against them.

Jorginho could be accompanied by Mateo Kovacic, who should be fit to complete 90 minutes after few more training sessions. Tuchel may try to be unorthodox with N’Golo Kante playing higher up.

Kante has excelled with his forward runs lately, and he could play in attacking midfield with Mason Mount with Hakim Ziyech yet to fully recover from his injury last weekend.

Christian Pulisic look set to lead the line with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz sidelined. Lukaku may not be risked from the off after his Covid setback, and he could feature off the bench.

Predicted Chelsea line-up (3-4-2-1): Edouard Mendy; Trevoh Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Reece James, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso; N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount; Christian Pulisic.

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