Fernando Torres is no longer a liability for the Blues but their top scorer and together with countryman Mata, packs quite a punch in the offense. Although he needs plenty of opportunities to score, he somehow manages to send the ball towards the opponents’ net more often than he did one year ago. This explains why Chelsea is now in the fortunate position of threatening the third-place and a victory at home against Aston Villa will turn their dream into reality. The difference separating them from leading Manchester United is considerable, but overtaking third-place Arsenal would still be an excellent Christmas present.

Four teams are tied for the third place with 30 points, which would enable Chelsea to overtake all of them in one clean sweep. All they need is a victory at Stamford bridge and against Aston Villa they shouldn’t have serious problems in securing the three points. The visitors have plenty of memories from this stadium but very few of them are pleasant, as they’ve lost the majority of games played in London. On the bright side, they come after a surprising win away at Liverpool and prove that they can still score goals.

Rafa Benitez will not commit the same mistakes he did when coaching Liverpool and will field an offensive minded squad with two strikers. Torres will need to make the most of these opportunities to score, while the more clinical Mata should help him close the deal. It is hard to recommend a bet on a straight Chelsea win, because the odds are simply too low but a triumph by two goals or more raises the value at slightly above 2.00 with most bookmakers.

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