Joe Cole heaps pressure on Chelsea ahead of Aston Villa showdown

Joe Cole speaking during TNT Sports' Premier League coverage
Former Aston Villa player Joe Cole speaking during TNT Sports' Premier League coverage (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images) -Credit:Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images

Joe Cole believes the pressure is firmly on Chelsea ahead of their visit to Villa Park, due to the manner in which they suffered their latest defeat.

Unai Emery and Co. welcome the Blues to the West Midlands on Saturday night with both teams holding desires for European football next season. Aston Villa are on the brink of Champions League qualification, whilst Mauricio Pochettino has a Europa Conference League spot in his sights.

With regards to the latter's hopes, they took a major dent on Tuesday night. A game in hand away to league leaders and London rivals Arsenal was always going to be a tough task, but to be picked apart and lose 5-0 was a demoralising occasion.

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At full-time on TNT Sports Cole was asked for his thoughts going into Saturday's match-up. The ex-midfielder has a foot in both camps from his playing days, but made it extremely clear that it will be Chelsea who have the spotlight fixed on them.

"Ultimately, it was what we talked about before the game. Dealing with the different spells and different seasons of a game," the pundit explained. "Early on, you are coming away to Arsenal, you have two of your best performers in [Malo] Gusto and [Cole] Palmer out the side, you have a young kid coming in at full-back, he needs to be protected.

"For the first goal, Havertz just wanders into space. That sets the tone. In those crucial moments in the game, they did not show enough maturity, so I think it is frustrating for the manager.

"Next game against Villa is crucial because they have to bounce back, it has to be a better performance. My phone has been blowing up with fans messaging me. There is losing the game and there is losing the game to your London rivals in that fashion, and I think that really sticks with the fans."

As well as their defensive woes, Chelsea have struggled in front of goal in their two most recent fixtures. Prior to Arsenal, they were eliminated from the FA Cup at the semi-final stage by Manchester City having had the majority of big chances on the day.

Villa cannot rely on their opponents' wastefulness, however, and must devise a flawless strategy of their own to maintain that advantage ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in the top-four race.

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