ROBERTO DI MATTEO will not get the job, of course — not after Roman Abramovich's big gamble on AVB backfired. But put your money on him being offered another top post in the summer after his heroics at the helm for Chelsea.
Not only has the amiable Italian united a dressing room that was fractured and feuding under Andre Villas-Boas, he has turned the Blues into contenders again.
Six wins in eight prove that, so watch out Spurs and Arsenal, beware Benfica and, dare we say it, Barcelona?
Super Robbie has even got Fernando Torres scoring!
In fact, the £50million striker was magnificent, a clear man of the match who did far more than just notch his first league goal in SIX MONTHS. That's right, his first since he scored against Swansea way back in September.
Torres has been widely mocked since then but the Spaniard made a tremendous contribution from start to finish.
As early as the sixth minute he was through one-on-one with Shay Given, who denied him with an outstretched boot. Chelsea's No 9 did play a key — Villa argued controversial — role in the Blues' opener just three minutes later, though.
His volleyed pass to compatriot Juan Mata saw defender Nathan Baker get a kick in the face as he dived in head first. With Baker laid out on the deck Mata returned the ball to Torres whose blocked shot rebounded to the unmarked Daniel Sturridge, who could not miss. Villa did try to respond and there were roars when Gabriel Agbonlahor hammered home — unfortunately long after he had been flagged offside.
In the 19th minute, the whole ground, including Chelsea fans, rose as one to roar its support for the stricken Stiliyan Petrov. The Bulgarian, who is battling acute leukaemia, wears No 19, and it was a wonderfully orchestrated tribute to the Villa captain who was watching from the stands. He returned the fans' applause as football showed its caring, compassionate side once again on another highly emotional occasion.
But Chelsea, who wore T-shirts in support of Petrov in the warm-up, were ultra-professional once the action was under way, with Torres leading by example. Like in the 25th minute when he laid the sweetest of passes into the path of Mata.
When Mata's effort rebounded off a post, Torres was in again only to be denied by a dramatic block from Baker.
Sturridge then shot at Given to waste another opportunity and so the Londoners' slender lead left them vulnerable. They nearly paid the price just before half-time when Agbonlahor again let rip but this time the alert Petr Cech made a great save with his legs to divert the ball over.
But six minutes after the break, Chelsea, did turn their dominance into something more tangible when Mata's corner was forced in at the near post by Branislav Ivanovic.
Torres then flashed a header wide though it did not appear to matter, with the visitors seemingly cruising to an impressive away win. Yet suddenly the wheels fell off spectacularly as Villa plundered two goals in just three minutes.
First centre-back James Collins headed in a long throw from Eric Lichaj on 77 minutes but the alarm bells went ignored by the Blues.
So American right-back Lichaj ventured forward again, and this time he scored — ghosting in behind Ashley Cole at the far post to squeeze home Marc Albrighton's excellent cross.
Unfortunately for Villa, Di Matteo's Chelsea are a far different proposition to the Blues of Villas-Boas. And the Champions League quarter-finalists came storming back to secure a valuable away win that keeps them right in the hunt for a top-four finish.
With seven minutes to go, Torres flicked on a corner and there was Ivanovic to thump home an unstoppable header.
Then, in injury-tim,e Torres cut in from the right and let fly with a fierce drive that flew across Given and into the net.
The icing on the cake for Chelsea, a bitter pill to swallow for the home team. How their prospects differ as the season reaches its climax. Villa are not out of danger as they stay rooted in the bottom six with just 33 points.
Away games at Liverpool and Manchester United are sandwiched around a home clash with Stoke.
In contrast it is Benfica at the Bridge on Wednesday for the Blues, with old rivals Barcelona beckoning.
And RDM and his men still fancy themselves to surprise neighbours Tottenham and Arsenal with a late flourish to finish as the top team in London after all.
Just a shame about those Manchester boys, eh Robbie?
Aston Villa: Given, Lichaj, Collins, Baker, Warnock, Gardner, Herd (Albrighton 70), Agbonlahor, Ireland, Bannan, Weimann (Heskey 82). Subs Not Used: Guzan, Johnson, Williams, Carruthers, Grealish. Booked: Warnock.
Goals: Collins 77, Lichaj 80.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz (Cahill 45), Terry, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Sturridge, Mata (Malouda 74), Kalou (Ramires 59),Torres. Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Essien, Bosingwa, Bertrand.
Goals: Sturridge 9, Ivanovic 51, 83, Torres 90.
Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).
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