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Valiant Villa Succumb to Chelsea’s Constant Pressure

Aston Villa hosted Chelsea, for a match which could prove crucial at both ends of the table.

Both sides started off decently well, but it was Nyland who made the first notable save in the 21st minute, as he plunged to his left to parry Mount’s effort from 25 yards out.

Chelsea dominated for the first half-hour, but Villa managed to get their first chance in the 32nd minute, when El Ghazi forced a diving save out of Kepa from range.

A minute later, El Ghazi found McGinn with a cross, but the Scotsman’s glancing header went wide.

Despite creating a good number of chances, Chelsea failed to score. They were punished by Villa in the 43rd minute. Grealish held it up for Luiz, who found El Ghazi with a beautiful cross. Though Kepa saved the Dutchman’s shot, Hause was able to bundle it home, and give the hosts a massively important lead.

Chelsea continued to dominate on the other side of half-time, and they finally equalised in the 61st minute. Azpilicueta delivered a delicious cross which found Pulisic arriving at the far post, and the American managed to side-foot it in off the bar.

And a minute later, Azpilicueta was darting down the left. His low cross found Giroud, who had his back to the goal. But, the Frenchman managed to turn and get a shot away, and it went in after a deflection, taking Chelsea in front.

Villa had a good chance in the 68th minute, when Hause glanced Hourihane’s free-kick with his head, but it went just wide.

Chelsea tested Nyland from range a couple of times, but failed to beat him.

Villa had a good chance in the 88th minute, when a lapse of concentration from Christensen allowed Jota to shoot with his first touch, but the Spaniard dragged his shot wide.

So, the final score at Villa Park saw the visitors win 1-2.

Tactics:

Villa allowed Chelsea to come at them from the wings, as they tried to defend Chelsea’s crosses, and then hit them on the break. They hoped that the likes of Grealish and El Ghazi would be able to earn some set-pieces in advanced positions.

Chelsea kept a lot of possession, and they looked to work the ball wide, mainly to the right wing, and then drill crosses in through Willian, Kovačić and Mount at times. This caused lots of problems for Targett, who was completely overloaded.

Ratings:

Aston Villa

Ørjan Nyland – Looked great in goal as he made a few good saves, but wasn’t overly convincing initially. 6.75

Ezri Konsa – Did very little in defence and attack, and didn’t have a major impact. 4.5

Tyrone Mings – Good in defence, as he made a lot of interceptions and challenges in his efforts to thwart Chelsea’s attacks. 6.75

Kortney Hause – Made quite a few clearances at the back, and scored the all-important opener too. 7.25

Matt Targett – Was left alone against upto 3 people down the left, and he did his best to hold out. 5.75

Conor Hourihane – Looked alright in midfield, and his set-piece deliveries were good too. 6

Douglas Luiz – Good in holding midfield, and did well in the build-up to the first goal too. 6.25

John McGinn – Not bad in the middle, but he had no impact at either end. 5

Anwar El Ghazi – Worked hard down the left as he tried to create a couple of chances on the counter, but didn’t help defensively. 6

Keinan Davis – Didn’t have too much to do in terms of attack, but he was really strong in the air. 6

Jack Grealish – Was all over the pitch in this match. Drew a lot of fouls to give his defence some much-needed respite and usual, dropped very deep to help his side as well and he held on to the ball well, such as in the build-up to the opener. 7.5

Subs:

Mbwana Samatta – No impact off the bench. 4.25

Marvelous Nakamba – Unlike what his name suggests, he was not ‘marvellous’. 4.75

Trézéguet – Didn’t do anything after coming on. 4.5

Team – Villa defended very well in the first half, and were rather lucky to get a lead before the break. There was more defending on their part in the second half, but after conceding twice in 105 seconds, they had little to offer in attack. They showed good fight and character, but their second half performance let them down. Maybe things could have been different if Villa Park had its 12th man. 5.75

Chelsea

Kepa Arrizabalaga – Arguably could have done better to prevent the goal, but was decent otherwise. 6

César Azpilicueta – His crosses were sub-par for most of the match, but he ended up with 2 assists from 2 good balls. 6.75

Andreas Christensen – Got a clean sheet, but he was switched off one or two times. 6

Antonio Rüdiger – Had little to do defensively, but he defended the Villa counter-attacks well.. 6.5

Marcos Alonso – Decent down the left, but he lacked end-product. 6.25

Mateo Kovačić – Alright in midfield, but he failed to have an impact at either end. 5.75

N’Golo Kanté – Good in holding midfield, and his distribution was decent. Used some interesting methods to keep Grealish in check as well. 6.5

Mason Mount – Drifted to the right often, as he helped Willian and Kovačić overload that flank. His shots and crosses were threatening too. 6.75

Willian – Looked threatening down the right, as he delivered some dangerous crosses. 6.5

Olivier Giroud – Rather contained for most of the match, but he got a brilliant goal after a great turn to give his side the lead. 6.5

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – Alright down the left, but he failed to have a major impact in attack. 5.25

Subs:

Christian Pulisic – Off the bench and on to the score-sheet with his first shot. Looked good thereafter too. 6.25

Ross Barkley – Alright in the middle after he came on, but he didn’t have a massive impact. 5

Team – Chelsea dominated from start to finish, and enjoyed nearly three quarters of the possession. They were very unfortunate to go behind before the break, but they did well to fight back, and eventually managed to break Villa down. Deserved victory for them overall. 6.25

Referee:

Paul Tierney got his calls right, as he had a relatively simple day. 7.25

What This Means:

Villa stay 19th, and remain 2 points away from safety.

Chelsea also hold position, as they remain in 4th place, 3 points away from Leicester, and 5 clear of United.

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