So we've made it to the end of the season and what a season it was. I'm probably not alone in having felt a few emotions this season that I didn't expect to. Truth be told I thought we'd do better than last season, but I didn't think we'd come so close.
By close I mean there were periods this season when I thought we had made it. I know. You know. But there were times when I saw some football that made me think we'd turned a corner. And that is a good sign.
And we know it's not impossible. Look at Leicester. If you put our starting eleven up against their starting eleven I think you'd get more more for ours. The reason they are where they are is because they go into every single game wanting to win and playing to win and take those risks and creating those opportunities.
We did that at times this season but at other times we didn't. If we get more familiar with that approach, we will get better. Next season could be very interesting. But this post is about tomorrow and did you know that Matty Targett might be the first outfield player for a decade to play every game in a season for us?
And the nice thing about tomorrow is that it doesn't matter what happens, we're going to finish eleventh. Ross Barkley can't play because it's Chelsea so we have an opportunity to name an entire match day squad of Aston Villa players and we have the opportunity to start with players that maybe wouldn't normally start.
I'm not suggesting that we drop players or go full on radical. The likes of Jack, Mings and Ollie will want to have a match because there is still a squad to get picked for. But there are other players that we can drop and there are some that could be playing.
But before I head in to town for a pint, a note on Ross Barkley and my references about not playing him the past few weeks. It's nothing to do with him as a player, it's to do with using the opportunity to play our own players. I'm a fan of Barkley and think he's had an okay season for us. I think when we went out to win matches he looked better and with Jack in the side he was always a threat and an option.
But things changed and when things change, there is always an impact. Now, time for that pint. And by the way, the competition was Liam, not sure how often he posts, but he reads. Well done Liam.
Match facts from the BBC
- The 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in December ended Aston Villa's six-match losing streak against Chelsea in the Premier League.
- Villa have lost 10 of the past 12 league meetings, with their solitary victory during that period coming at home in March 2014.
- Chelsea can register four successive away league wins in this fixture for only the second time, having done so between 1995 and 1999.
- Villa are guaranteed to end the season in 11th place, their highest finish in the Premier League since coming ninth in 2010-11.
- Only Chelsea and Manchester City have kept more Premier League clean sheets than Villa's 15 this season.
- Emiliano Martinez has equalled the club's Premier League record for most clean sheets by a goalkeeper in a season. Brad Friedel also kept 15 in 2009-10.
- Aston Villa have failed to win their final league match in any of their past six top-flight campaigns since beating Liverpool 1-0 a decade ago (D2, L4).
- Ollie Watkins has scored eight Premier League goals against established top-six opposition in 2020-21, two more than any other player.
- He needs one goal to become the first Englishman to score 15 times in a Premier League season for Villa, surpassing Julian Joachim's record from 1998-99.
- Chelsea will guarantee a place in next season's Champions League if they win or match Liverpool and Leicester's results. If Chelsea lose by three goals, Leicester would overtake them with a draw.
- Their only defeat on the final day of a Premier League season in the past nine years was by 3-0 at Newcastle United in 2017-18.
- The Blues have earned 38 points from their 18 league matches under Thomas Tuchel (W11, D5, L2). They took 29 points from 19 games under Frank Lampard.
- Since Tuchel's first match in charge, only Manchester City have earned more points than Chelsea.
- They are unbeaten in their 12 away matches in all competitions under the German, only conceding five goals (W9, D3).
- Edouard Mendy could become the only Chelsea goalkeeper other than Petr Cech to keep more than 16 Premier League clean sheets in a season.
- Olivier Giroud has a career-high 10 competitive goals versus Aston Villa, scoring in each of his past eight appearances against them.