Aston Villa v Chelsea
Barclays Premier League
Saturday March 31 2012; 15:00
Chelsea could be without Branislav Ivanovic for their trip Aston Villa on Saturday as the Serbian International continues to struggle with a thigh injury.
Raul Meireles is also expected to miss out on the trip to Villa Park having been substitued in Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League against Benfica during mid-week.
For Villa, Alan Hutton is out with a calf complaint meaning Eric Lichaj or Chris Herd are in with a shout of a starting spot while it was revealed today that Stiliyan Petrov is sadly battling lukemia.
Cech up for tough Chelsea run
Petr Cech insists Chelsea will not baulk at the prospect of their exhausting fixture list in April as the Blues battle it out for fourth place in the Premier League alongside FA Cup and Champions League success.
Chelsea face the prospect of going up against Tottenham in their FA Cup on the 15th of next month and then three days later potentially facing Barcelona or Milan in the semi-finals of the Champions League should they negotiate their way safely past Benfica as expected after taking a 1-0 lead in the tie this week.
Either side of those two crucial games Roberto di Matteo’s men will also be hoping to narrow the five point gap between them and Tottenham, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.
Chelsea had hoped to have their FA Cup clash with Spurs moved in order to give them more time to recover, however the Football Association turned their request down earlier this week.
Now Cech has called upon his team-mates to focus ahead of what will be a defining run of games in Chelsea’s season, with the Czech Republic international saying the Blues must learn to ‘deal with it’ in order to be successful.
"We have the chance to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League after putting ourselves in a good position against Benfica and we are still in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, so we are on the way for a possible two trophies," the goalkeeper told Sky Sports News.
"With our schedule it is not that easy because with the Champions League, FA Cup and the Euros at the back end of the season, there is not really time to move the games so everything comes thick and fast.
"But we put ourselves in this situation and we need to deal with it."
The Blues have put themselves in the position to end their season on a high since the arrival of Di Matteo, winning five and drawing once in all competitions since the Italian took over.
Last weekend’s draw with Tottenham kept them within touching distance of their rivals but they face a tough task this weekend at Villa Park in picking up maximum points after coming undone 3-1 when they played Alex McLeish’s side earlier this season.
Although the former Chelsea midfielder is being touted as a long-term successor to Andre Villas-Boas, Cech refused to be drawn on the subject and said the team are focusing on their run in, starting with their Premier League game against Villa.
"I can't comment on that because I am not on the board or the owner of the club. I am only a player," he commented.
"As long as Roberto is here we will obviously do everything to make this happen and get the results as best we can, but it is the decision of the club and as always you have to accept it as a player."