Aston Villa welcome Chelsea to their slice of Birmingham in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Steven Gerrard has steered Villa to four matches unbeaten but the scratchy stalemate against Nottingham Forest on Monday – the third draw in this sequence – underlined the struggles for fluency of those in claret and blue.
Chelsea, by comparison, have swiftly adapted to life under Graham Potter, coming into the contest on a high after four consecutive victories and three clean sheets on the spin.
Here’s everything you need to know about the meeting between this duo.
Aston Villa: 1 Win
Chelsea: 3 Wins
Aston Villa: LDWDD
Villa are expected to be without both of their natural left-backs Lucas Digne and Ludwig Augustinsson for the next couple of weeks while they recover from heel and hamstring injuries respectively.
Long-term absentees Boubacar Kamara (knee) and Diego Carlos (Achilles) are in the early stages of the heeling process while Leon Bailey is a doubt with a knock.
Aston Villa Starting 11 (4-3-2-1): Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Young; McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey; Buendia, Coutinho; Watkins.
Bench: Olsen, Sanson, Ings, Chambers, Nakamba, Bednarek, Dendoncker, Archer, Bogarde.
Reece James limped off with a knee problem against Milan in midweek. The wingback hasn’t been ruled out of the World Cup and could be back as soon as next week – though it remains to be seen whether James travels to Villa Park.
Wesley Fofana could also appear before the sports-washing project in Qatar this November but has little chance of featuring as soon as Sunday. Hakim Ziyech missed the trip to San Siro with a sore throat which he is expected to have shaken off by the weekend.
N’Golo Kante suffered a setback on his protracted return from a thigh complaint after an unspecified “reaction” in training.
Chelsea Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Cucurella; Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho; Mount, Havertz, Pulisic; Broja.
Bench: Mendy, B*ttinelli, Kovacic, Aubameyang, Sterling, Gallagher, Chilwell, Ziyech, Chukwuemeka.
Potter’s start to life in west London has been smoothed by some thoroughly agreeable opponents. A home game against a manager-less and toothless Wolves side was sandwiched between two meetings with an injury-riddled Milan.
Gerrard’s Villa can be accused of many things but they scarcely make for easy adversaries. No club’s matches have averaged fewer quality chances at both ends than those involving Villa – hinting at a stingy rearguard but a misfiring forward line.
In what could prove to be another tight affair, the sheer quality of Chelsea’s squad gives them the slight edge.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea