Zat Knight believes the Sunday showdown between third placed Aston Villa and table-toppers Chelsea could be one of the biggest battles of the Premier League season, describing the meeting of the two sides at Stamford Bridge as “The Clash of The Titans.”
Knight says buoyant Villa will go to the fortess that is Stamford Bridge full of confidence and desperate to break the Londoner’s incredible record which has seen them unbeaten in the top flight at home for a staggering 85 games.
Knight may not even get on the pitch, so comfortable is manager Martin O’Neill with his current back four, but the Birmingham-born centre-back says that, while he finds that frustrating on a personal level, he is prepared to work hard and bide his time until he gets back into the team.
Knight, who helped Villa cruise into the group stages of the Uefa Cup on Thursday night, said: “We are in a good place at the minute so hopefully we can go there and hopefully be the ones breaking their home record. It will be the Clash of the Titans!
“I hope we can be the team to break it. We have got a good record down there as well and hopefuly we can go there and upset them. It would be nice to get something from there.”
Villa certainly troubled Chelsea last season holding them to an incredible 4-4 draw at the Bridge before beating them 2-0 at Villa Park in a match which was ultimately to lead to the parting of the ways between The Blues and then manager Jose Mourinho.
Knight played in the 4-4 draw but was unlucky to be sent off in the 45th minute in what was considered to be a very harsh decision by Staffordshire referee Phil Dowd who also sent off Ricardo Carvalho and Ashley Cole before the end of the game.
A subsequent appeal to the FA drew no mercy for Knight who went on to lose his place to Curtis Davies in the side.
Knight recalled: “We went to Chelsea last year and drew 4-4 and then we beat them here so I think the big test for us will be the small teams.
“It was very frustrating to get sent off at Stamford Bridge - it was a very harsh decision - but that is part of football. Curtis (Davies) came in and took his opportunity. Now I am just biding my time til my chance.”
Knight played in Thursday’s 4-2 aggregate victory in the Uefa Cup over Bulgarian side Litex Lovech but accepts O’Neill’s current first choice defensive pairing of Davies and Martin Laursen are likely to be back. The pair have helped guide Villa to victory in their last three Premier League matches.
He said: “Against Chelsea I wil go back on the bench if I have to but we have to go to Chelsea and do something.
“Against the bigger teams, to be fair, we have always done well and, if anything, it is the smaller teams that are the biggest test for us
“We went to Chelsea last year and drew 4-4 and then we beat them here so I think the big test for us will be the small teams.”
His views were shared by fellow defender Luke Young who is relishing the trip to the capital.
Young believes he has his best chance of glory over the Premier League leaders this time round with Villa.
“No disrespect to the other clubs I have been with in the past,” he said, “but when I was at Charlton one of the things we struggled at was creating chances and scoring goals.
“We pretty much realised if we conceded an early goal you were in trouble but in this side at the minute it looks like we can go and create chances which is obviously a good thing for us.
“When I was at The Valley, we played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and that was a long night! It was a Carling Cup and we won on penalties after extra time. It was a big night for us and going into extra time we did not want to come away losing. We put in good performance and then managed to win on penalties so it can be done and Chelsea can be beaten.
“Villa fought to a 4-4 drawn down there last season so we have to tighen up a bit at the back but it just shows you that the lads can go to the top sides in the division and score goals.”
Commenting on Chelsea’s home record, secured on August 12 2007, after beating the previous run of 63 matches set by Liverpool between 1978 and 1980, Young added: “Chelsea have quite an unbelieveable record to go that many games without losing at home. It is incredible but it can’t keep going on the way it has been.”