Chelsea take on Aston Villa in an eagerly anticipated FA Cup fourth-round clash on Friday evening, with both teams targeting a successful run in the competition.
Villa won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League earlier in the campaign and have been arguably the surprise package of the season so far, sitting fourth in the table. Chelsea, meanwhile, are beginning to click under new manager Mauricio Pochettino after seven wins in nine games.
Ahead of their meeting, we’ve picked our Chelsea and Aston Villa combined XI.
Chelsea vs Aston Villa: Combined XI ahead of FA Cup clash:
Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martinez – Aston Villa
Aston Villa fans often call Emi Martinez the best goalkeeper in the world and the Argentine was recognised as such with the Yashin Trophy at October’s Ballon d’Or ceremony. A World Cup winner with the national team and one of the most commanding number ones in the Premier League, Martinez starts in goal with Chelsea’s options less convincing.
Robert Sanchez was a surprise signing in the summer after falling to third-choice status at Brighton, with Dorde Petrović given a recent run in the side.
HE’S TOP TWO AND HE’S NOT TWO. ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/fOSq8whNCU
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 7, 2023
Right-back: Axel Disasi – Chelsea
After a mixed start at Chelsea, Axel Disasi is growing in confidence. The defender was outstanding in the midweek win over Middlesbrough, as the West Londoners booked a place in the Carabao Cup final.
The Frenchman started and finished the third goal and was influential in the second, after powering forward into the penalty box. Just eight players have tackled a higher percentage of dribblers faced (77.8%) than Disasi this season.
Brilliant finish from Axel Disasi 😍💫 pic.twitter.com/UsHSCHfRL0
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 23, 2024
Centre-back: Ezri Konsa – Aston Villa
Ezri Konsa earned inclusion in the England squad for the first time in November, recognition for a superb start to the season for the defender. An often unsung hero of the Aston Villa team, Konsa has grown in stature this season to lead the backline in the absence of Tyrone Mings.
He leads Europe’s top five leagues for percentage of duels won in 2023/24.
Centre-back: Pau Torres – Aston Villa
Pau Torres was a marquee recruit for Aston Villa in the summer with Unai Emery reuniting with his former Villarreal defender in a transfer coup for the club.
Torres has adapted well to the Premier League this season, offering natural left-footed balance and carrying the ball confidently from the backline. Only one player in Europe’s top five leagues has carried the ball further in possession than the Spain international this season.
Left-back: Alex Moreno – Aston Villa
Alex Moreno was an instant hit after becoming Unai Emery’s first signing at Aston Villa last January.
The Spaniard was brilliant for the Villans last season, recording three assists from his 19 league appearances, and impressing with his marauding runs forward from full-back.
An injury setback halted his progress, but he has returned to the team over the last two months and scored in recent wins over Legia Warsaw and Brentford.
Midfield: Boubacar Kamara – Aston Villa
Boubacar Kamara has gone somewhat under the radar in an impressive Aston Villa team, with the Frenchman screening the defence impressively from midfield. Calm, composed and intelligent in his reading of the game, his previous experience in central defence aids his work in covering for those behind him.
Given his influence at Aston Villa and attributes as a midfield anchor, it’s baffling how wealthier clubs did not take a chance on Kamara when he left Marseille for Villa Park on a free transfer.
Chelsea, in search of similar steel, spent £115m on Moises Caicedo in the summer.
Midfield: Douglas Luiz – Aston Villa
Douglas Luiz has turned the heads of rival clubs this season with a series of stellar performances in the Aston Villa midfield.
The Brazil international was named Aston Villa Player of the Season after leading the club to Europa Conference League qualification last season and has picked up where he left off. Luiz has six goals and three assists in the Premier League this season, demonstrating an ability to influence games at both ends of the pitch. One of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league on current form.
Midfield: John McGinn – Aston Villa
Given the two most expensive footballers in British football history pair up in the Chelsea midfield, it’s a credit to Aston Villa’s recruitment team that our engine room is all Claret. The trio of Kamara, Luiz and McGinn cost just over £17m combined, with the latter the captain and driving force.
The self-proclaimed ‘wee chubby guy’ might not be the most fashionable footballer in the division, but he’s a manager’s dream with his relentless work-rate, low centre of gravity, and underrated technical quality.
Most duels won in the Premier League so far this season for Aston Villa:
— Aston Villa Statto (@AVFCStatto) January 24, 2024
Right-wing: Cole Palmer – Chelsea
Cole Palmer has been one of the signings of the season in the Premier League, a rare positive in a rather scattergun recruitment drive.
Palmer has excelled since leaving the fringes of the Manchester City squad for a prominent role in Mauricio Pochettino’s side, scoring 11 times and providing seven assists. His goal return is already more than any Chelsea player managed in the entirety of last season and earned Palmer a senior England debut in November.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 24, 2024
A place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2024 is a real prospect for the 21-year-old.
Left-wing: Raheem Sterling – Chelsea
Raheem Sterling resembles an elder statesman in an inexperienced Chelsea team this season and will hope to continue his fantastic FA Cup record against Villa.
The 29-year-old has 19 goal involvements in his last 20 appearances in the competition, which includes a brace in the final when Manchester City thrashed Watford in 2019. Sterling has scored seven goals in all competitions for the West Londoners this season and will hope to break back into the England fold with a strong run of form over the second half of the campaign.
He ranks third in the Premier League for progressive carries and sixth for successful take-ons this season.
Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 19 goals in his last 20 starts in the FA Cup!!!
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) January 26, 2024
Forward: Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa
Ollie Watkins leads the line in our combined XI, having produced the best football of his career across the last 12 months.
Watkins has evolved into one of the most well-rounded centre-forwards in the Premier League under the management of Unai Emery and has nine top-flight goals and eight assists in 2023/24.
Ollie Watkins with the winner! 😍 pic.twitter.com/oY6nNMPHOC
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 17, 2023
The 28-year-old has 14 goals for the season in all competitions, just two short of his best-ever return in a single campaign for Villa. His work ethic and goal return have made him the first-choice option to deputise for Harry Kane with England.