Aston Villa moved above Chelsea in the table with two games in hand after earning a well deserved point against the struggling Blues. Frank Lampard’s men dominated possession throughout the game, but couldn’t get past a resilient Villa side after taking the lead in first half. The result sees Chelsea take just four points from their last four games after spending over 250£m in the summer.
Frank Lampard made six changes to the side defeated by Arsenal on Boxing Day, with Olivier Giroud leading the line and Rudiger and Christensen partnering in defence. Both teams had an early chance, as Jack Grealish forced Mendy to parry his shot out for a corner from his curling shot, while Pulisic hit the side netting after intercepting a pass from midfield.
The American missed a decent chance in the 32nd minute by shooting over the bar from his bicycle kick after the ball deflected off Cash into the forward’s path. Giroud repaid his manager’s faith by scoring Chelsea’s opener in the 34th minute by heading his effort past Martinez at the near post from Chilwell’s cross. Villa barely touched the ball after Chelsea’s opener as the Blues exerted complete control over the game.
Aston Villa equalised five minutes into the second half through an unmarked El Ghazi, who volleyed his effort at the back post between Mendy’s legs. The winger’s goal was protested by Chelsea as Christensen laid down injured on the ground during the buildup after clashing with Jack Grealish.
Chelsea continued to attack through the wide areas from Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi and forced Villa to defend deep as the game went on. Villa almost took the lead through McGinn, who rifled his shot against the crossbar from 30 yards out. Jacob Ramsey, who replaced the goalscorer El Ghazi went close as his shot curled inches wide of the post.
Ben Chilwell thought he had won it for Chelsea in the last minute of stoppage time, but the left-back’s first time thunderous volley from Hudson-Odoi’s cross flew whiskers away from the far post. Villa held on to earn a valuable point on the road and end the year in 5th position when compared to last year’s 18th.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Lampard said his team were better in most parts of the game but couldn’t unlock a gritty Villa defence. The Chelsea manager added “We started really well. Villa had some moments but we came through the first half really good. Second half, we conceded a goal with a man on the floor, that’s kind of the run we’re on at the minute. And then we pushed, and we couldn’t break the deadlock in the end to get the win. But attitude wise it was really good, against a good team.”
“Christian Pulisic was really bright all game. He created a few chances for himself, and a lot of our play was really good. And when you’re in a bit of a tough moment sometimes things don’t go for you. A month ago, probably we win that game. You have to fight through it, but I can’t ask for more than what the players gave.”
“Giroud gets on the end of things in the box and we have to deliver for him, and we did with the build-up to that goal. Nobody let me down tonight. Everyone worked, after playing two days ago, we didn’t quite get the rub of the green in a way“