Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was relieved to finally notch a first league win in seven matches when Florent Malouda’s 61st-minute goal gave the Blues a 1-0 success over Bolton on Wednesday.
But he’s still “not sure the team will be OK” ahead of Chelsea’s Sunday lunchtime clash with struggling Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
Strangely, however, the Italian did claim that “the league is open again for us” after leapfrogging Spurs into fourth spot in the table.
Ancelotti will still be missing Yuri Zhirkov (calf), Alex (knee) and Yossi Benayoun (Achilles).
Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey has given manager Gerard Houllier a much-needed boost by declaring himself fit for the tough trip to west London.
Houllier has had little to celebrate after a miserable Christmas, with Tuesday’s depressing 4-0 loss at Manchester City following on from a 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham on Boxing Day.
Heskey missed the midweek loss after twisting an ankle in the Spurs game, but has returned to training.
With Villa just one point off the relegation zone and a mere three from the bottom spot, Heskey’s return is a timely lift for under-pressure Houllier.
Ashley Young (knee) and Luke Young (groin) are likely to remain sidelined, while long-term injury victim Andreas Weimann is still out with ankle and foot problems.
Villa might have Heskey back, but he’s never been a prolific goalscorer and it’s unlikely he’ll net against Chelsea.
The Blues have been off-form, but that hard-fought win over Bolton should have boosted the players’ confidence enough that they ease to victory.