Aston Villa v Chelsea: Matic wary of misfiring hosts

Goal-shy Aston Villa will be difficult Premier League opponents, according to Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic is expecting a difficult fixture at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, despite the hosts' dismal goalscoring record.

Jose Mourinho's men sit top of the league, but were held to a 1-1 draw by title rivals Manchester City at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

Villa, meanwhile, are without a win in eight league matches, having scored just once during that run, with their total of 11 in 23 Premier League games comfortably the worst in the division.

However, Matic insists Chelsea will not take their opponents lightly as they look to preserve their five-point advantage over City at the summit.

"We know that Aston Villa, especially at home, will be a very difficult team to play against," he said. "But we have to win. We have to stay in the first position and we will do everything we can to win.

"I repeat, we know that they are good, but we want to stay with a minimum five-point lead against City."

Paul Lambert has maintained a positive outlook throughout his side's poor run of form, but will not welcome the visit of Chelsea a week after being thumped 5-0 at Arsenal.

The Scottish manager is keen to see striker Christian Benteke rediscover his goalscoring habit soon, with the Belgian having netted just twice in 14 league appearances this term.

That record is in stark contrast to his tally of 29 goals in 60 outings during his first two seasons at Villa Park, but Lambert is careful not to put too much pressure on the forward.

"If I had Christian Benteke right on his game, performing when back from injury, I'm pretty sure I'd have a long list of clubs knocking down the door for him," said Lambert.

"He's had a dip in form, he's human like everyone else. We can't rest everything on his shoulders.

"We're working hard to get him back to what we know he can do. It's something we have to get him through. 

"You don't have the talent he's got and fall that far. Everyone has dips in form, it's more noticeable in him, everyone alludes to what he did in his first year.

"It's something we're working hard on to get him back to his best."

Chelsea will be without suspended top scorer Diego Costa, but Juan Cuadrado - signed from Fiorentina on deadline day - could be in line for a debut.

Villa, meanwhile, could welcome back Ron Vlaar, who has been missing since the beginning of January with a knee problem.