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Villa v Chelsea stats: Why Westwood could be the key man
Ashley Westwood in focus.
15th Mar 2014
Villa v Chelsea stats: Why Westwood could be the key man


After a fortnight off, Villa return to action against hosting table-toppers Chelsea. Nevertheless Paul Lambert's side will look to take confidence from their convincing 4-1 win over Norwich last time, with WhoScored.com suggesting there's plenty of hope for the claret and blues.

Villa only need look to the reverse fixture earlier in the season for evidence that they can cause Chelsea real problems.

Jose Mourinho was quick to admit that the Midlands outfit deserved more from their trip to Stamford Bridge, with a number of refereeing decisions going against them after Christian Benteke had cancelled out an early own-goal.

It was the second successive game against the Londoners that the Belgian had netted, having opened the scoring in this fixture at the end of the previous campaign.

After back-to-back 2-1 defeats, Villa will hope to turn the tables - and they've beaten the odds against the Blues on numerous occasions in recent years.

Mourinho's last defeat as Chelsea boss in his previous reign at the club came at the hands of Villa in B6, with goals from Zat Knight and Gabby Agbonlahor securing all three points for the hosts in 2007.

Since then, Villa have beaten Chelsea twice and picked up a share of the spoils on three occasions, while scoring 10 times in the previous six encounters between the sides.

It's clear that the home side will need to be at their best at either end to get a result on Saturday, but the crucial battle may well come in the middle ground, with the visitors likely to look to control the tempo of the match.

With that in mind, the upturn in form of Ashley Westwood lately has been a timely boost to Lambert.

Having earned the man of the match award from Villa fans at Newcastle, Westwood continued his form into the following match-up with Norwich.

In fact, the midfield maestro's rating of 8.18 from WhoScored.com in the 4-1 win last time out was his best this season.

It's a rating that he's bettered just once in a claret and blue shirt, with that coming in the game against Chelsea at Villa Park last season.

The 23-year old garnered a score of 8.61 from WhoScored in the fixture last May, and with the Blues up next at Villa Park he'll be hoping for a repeat performance come Saturday.

In a game that Villa led going into the last half hour, Westwood was instrumental, completing 89% of his 56 pass attempts and delivering four accurate crosses.

Westwood

Meanwhile, in a defensive sense, he made a massive nine interceptions and one crucial clearance off the line.

His display against the Canaries a fortnight ago was not too dissimilar, completing 86% of 58 pass attempts and again delivering four accurate crosses, one of which earned him an assist for Benteke's second of the game.

The creative side to his game is one that perhaps gets overlooked, with only 15 players in the Premier League having set up more chances for team-mates this season (45).

While Westwood's set piece duties have played a part in that figure, a total of 28 chances created from open play is still a considerable return, ranking him alongside the likes of Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero and Olivier Giroud and one ahead of England captain Steven Gerrard (27).

Meanwhile, only 11 players in the top-flight have delivered more accurate crosses this season (37).

With chances against the likes of Chelsea often at a premium, Villa will be looking to exploit Westwood's capabilities from dead ball situations.

Indeed, the former Crewe man has acquired statistically calculated strengths from WhoScored in both taking set pieces and key passes.

It's certain that if Villa are to cause an upset this weekend they'll need more of the same from Westwood following the team's impressive win against Norwich.

Find yet more statistics on Aston Villa and the rest of the Premier League, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings at WhoScored.com. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @martinlaurence7 on Twitter.

RAF

 

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