There has been something of a role reversal between these two sides in recent seasons, and perhaps never has it been more noticeable than in the days building up to this Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay.
While Mauricio Pochettino faces scrutiny as his Chelsea side languish in mid-table obscurity, Unai Emery’s Aston Villa have established themselves as serious contenders for next season’s UEFA Champions League – and were arguably favourites to progress to the Fifth Round ahead of kickoff.
AVL: Martínez; Moreno, Lenglet, Carlos, Cash; Luiz, Kamara; McGinn, Tielemans, Bailey; Watkins
CHE: Petrović; Chilwell, Badiashile, Disasi, Gusto; Fernández, Caicedo; Jackson, Gallagher, Madueke; Palmer
Days after falling to an embarrassing defeat against Wolves, Mauricio Pochettino’s men would be afforded a lifeline to get their season back on track – and perhaps save the Argentine’s job in the process.
It was an opportunity that the Blues seized with both hands, needing just 11 minutes to storm into the lead at Villa Park as Conor Gallagher rolled home a calm and composed effort before Nicolas Jackson headed home from a Malo Gusto cross ten minutes later.Embed from Getty Images
When the Blues find form, they are a force to be reckoned with – as Wednesday’s hosts would soon find out. Enzo Férnandez brought an abrupt end to any remaining homes of a comeback less than ten minutes into the second half, picking out the top corner with a free-kick from distance to further extend Chelsea’s advantage.
A simply stunning performance from Chelsea was perhaps made even more impressive given the nature of the defeat that they suffered just days ago, and the discourse that has followed. The lead that they had accumulated was so great that when Moussa Diaby rescued a late goal in stoppage time, it was nothing more than a consolatory finish for the substitute.Embed from Getty Images
Chelsea have now secured a date with Leeds United in the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup, with that match set to be played just three days after they meet Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in the Carabao Cup Final.
The Blues must first turn their attention to the Premier League though, as they prepare to travel to Selhurst Park on Monday before visiting Manchester City on February 17. As for Aston Villa, they must now welcome Manchester United to Villa Park.