Having hosted Chelsea’s dramatic UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarterfinal win on Thursday, Stamford Bridge was set to see the Blues face an in-form Aston Villa side. Graham Potter’s side have lingered in mid-table for quite some time, and this provided an opportunity to pick up the points and start to close the gap to Liverpool.
CHE: Arrizabalaga; Cucurella, Koulibaly, James; Chilwell, Kovacic, Fernandez, Loftus-Cheek; Mudryk, Havertz; Felix
AVL: Martinez; Moreno, Mings, Konsa, Young; Ramsey, D. Luiz, Kamara, McGinn; Watkins, Buendia
Villa nearly conceded after a disastrous error from Emi Martinez early on, as the Argentine played in Boubacar Kamara – but he was pounced on by Mykhailo Mudryk. His close range strike was parried over the bar by the Villa ‘keeper though. They looked to push forwards again, as Emi Buendia’s flick through to John McGinn let the Scottish midfielder send a through ball to Ollie Watkins, though the English striker unleashed his shot a little too early, dragging his effort wide of the far post.
McGinn rattled the crossbar a few minutes later – Jacob Ramsey found Emi Buendia inside the box, who turned and laid it off to Scot, who unleashed a first-time strike that struck the woodwork. Villa took the lead soon after though, as Douglas Luiz sent a long ball over the top. Poor communication between Marc Cucurella and Kalidou Koulibaly caused confusion amongst the Chelsea defence, and Cucurella’s header allowed Ollie Watkins to run in behind and chip Kepa to send the visitors ahead!
Chelsea had plenty of chances to level the scorers though, with arguably the best opportunity falling to Mykhailo Mudryk. The Ukrainian was played in by Mateo Kovacic, and after working his way infield, his tame shot was captured easily by Martinez.
It was all Chelsea until the break, with what felt like constant attacks going to waste – either through poor finishing, a resolute Villa defence, or in some cases a combination of both. They though they’d finally equalised in injury time as Ben Chilwell rose above Ashley Young to head home at the near post, but the England wing-back was deemed to have shoved the Villa player in the process and the goal was chalked off.
Villa doubled their lead ten minutes into the second half, with John McGinn receiving the ball from Jacob Ramsey on the edge of the box. The Scotland international struck it first time, curling the ball through the crowded penalty area before it settled in the bottom corner. Villa were 2-0 up, and Chelsea really had work to do if they were to rescue a result.
Joao Felix thought Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute after an alleged handball from Ezri Konsa – but despite a relatively lengthy VAR check, there was no concrete evidence, and the Portuguese attacker’s appeals were dismissed by the referee.
Noni Madueke looked to make an impact off the bench, but he curled his effort wide of the far post. N’Golo Kante could have marked his return to competitive football with a goal a minute later, but his strike was dragged just wide of the post!
Mateo Kovacic had another chance to reduce the deficit after Kante fired another shot on goal. The Frenchman’s shot was blocked, but he picked up the rebound and squared it to Kovacic – who blasted his effort over the top.
It’s a far from ideal result for Chelsea and Graham potter, as the Blues drop into the bottom half of the table. Villa are now unbeaten in five games, and they’ve risen into the top ten of the Premier League in sensational style.