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Cahill expects tough Villa test

Gary Cahill expects Aston Villa to be a different proposition on Saturday to the side humbled 8-0 at Chelsea earlier this season.

Last Updated: 10/05/13 at 13:32 Post Comment

Cahill: Isn't expecting a repeat of Chelsea's 8-0 victory

Cahill: Isn't expecting a repeat of Chelsea's 8-0 victory

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill expects Aston Villa to be a different proposition on Saturday to the side humbled 8-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.

Last year's Champions League winners are targeting a victory which would all but secure a return to a place among Europe's elite next term, while Villa's Barclays Premier League place is still to be confirmed despite two wins which have taken them clear of the relegation zone.

"We played them at home and we got a convincing result there," said Cahill, who began his career at Villa before joining Bolton in January 2008.

"This time around it will be a different team we face. They're playing some good football at the minute. Attacking-wise they look very strong.

"It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to going back to my old club and looking forward to the game."

The retirement of Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov - following his battle against acute leukaemia - could have a galvanising effect for the hosts and Cahill added his tribute to the Bulgarian midfielder.

"He captained me a few times while I was there," the England international said. "He was not just a quality footballer, but as a guy, as a family man, he was top drawer.

"He's got a lot of friends in the game. I wish him the very best. He's a really nice guy."

Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez agreed with Cahill's assessment of the Villa Park clash.

"It doesn't matter what happened in the game at Stamford Bridge," the Spaniard said.

"The main thing is they want to win, they need to win.

"They're doing well. It will be tough because they're desperate to win and stay in the league."

The December 23 mauling of Villa is remembered not just for the margin of victory, but also for the fact it was the game which featured £50million striker Fernando Torres' most recent Premier League goal.

The Spain striker is likely to have to wait to end the drought ahead of Wednesday's Europa League final, as Demba Ba is ineligible for the Benfica clash and is likely to be preferred in Birmingham. Torres has scored five in five in the Europa League.

Frank Lampard will be given an opportunity, with Benitez confirming the midfielder will start as he targets the two goals required to surpass Bobby Tambling's club goalscoring record of 202 goals.

Given the impasse over his future, with his current contract expiring this summer, Lampard appears to be running out of time.

Benitez expressed hope the 34-year-old will surpass the mark in Chelsea's 67th game of the season against Villa, making his team selection far Amsterdam more straightforward.

That hinted at Lampard missing out in the Europa League final, with his inclusion, in part, dependent on the fitness of John Obi Mikel.

Lampard and captain John Terry have been omitted from key fixtures this term, including the FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City and this week's 2-2 draw with Tottenham, when Chelsea had hoped to enhance their claim on a top-four place.

Chelsea finished sixth in the league last season, qualifying for the Champions League as a result of winning the competition in Munich - a match Terry missed through suspension.

Like Lampard, Terry is expected to return at Villa following a three-game absence, but he is then likely to return to the bench for the Benfica match, with Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz the other central defensive options.

Three matches in nine days - against Villa, Benfica and on the final day of the season against Everton and their Manchester United-bound manager David Moyes - will determine whether Chelsea's season has been a success.

Cahill said: "We've got three games that could determine our season. We have to keep pushing."

After experiencing Champions League glory 12 months ago, only to become the first holders to bow out of the competition before Christmas, Cahill is determined Chelsea win another European trophy.

"If we're able to win it, that's two European trophies in two years, which I think would be great success for the club," he said.

As for the future, Chelsea are this summer seeking their 10th permanent boss in 10 years under owner Roman Abramovich.

It has been strongly suggested that Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho will return for a second spell, less than six years after his departure.

Cahill would not be too drawn on the self-titled Special One's second coming, but hopes success continues despite the frequent changes of management.

"As players, you're just employed to go out and work hard and try to get results for the club," he said.

"Whatever happens behind the scenes, it happens. In recent years they win trophies at this club. Hopefully it will continue."


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