When Carlo Ancelotti signed Yossi Benayoun in the summer, it was to replace the void left by Joe Cole and Deco who departed on free transfers.
But Ancelotti will be without the versatility that Benayoun offers the Chelsea squad as the Israeli international will undergo surgery on an Achilles injury and will be on the sidelines for six months.
Benayoun was always going to struggle to hold down a first team spot with Ancelotti favouring a three striker system, but his presence in the squad was needed in case of injury.
Benayoun has made just three appearances for Chelsea this season, but in those games Chelsea notched up 16 goals and Benayoun opened his Chelsea account in the game against Wigan.
But the Israeli International will play no further part in the season leaving Ancelotti with just Soloman Kalou and Gael Kakuta as potential replacements for the wider forward spots.
Malouda and Anelka have been consistently filling those winger-cum-striker positions and it’s been Maoluda who has earned all the plaudits for his start to the season.
The Frenchman has six goals in the Premier League this season, putting him alongside Didier Drogba and Dimitar Berbatov at the top of the goalscoring charts.
Malouda has been cut to 10/1 to be the top Premier League goalscorer, but Drogba is still favourite at 7/4 and Berbatov is 9/1.
However a serious injury to either Malouda or Drogba and Ancelotti will be unable to call upon Benayoun, which means that the pressure falls on Sturridge and Kakuta to provide the chances and find the net.
If the front three can stay fit then Benayoun’s loss won’t be too big of a problem for Chelsea as they chase a consecutive Premier League title – they are 4/7 to win the title.
Chelsea are 8/11 to beat Villa on Saturday. See the full Barclays Premier League football betting odds market here.