Despite an indifferent showing by Chelsea, Graham Potter’s side defeated Aston Villa 2-0 at Villa Park to seal their fourth successive win in all competitions and heap the pressure on the under-fire Steven Gerrard.
To Villa’s dismay, Chelsea were gifted an early lead after just six minutes as Tyrone Mings misjudged a headed clearance, and Mason Mount was in the right place at the right time to latch onto the loose ball and slot it home from inside the box.
Villa did not let their heads drop and for the remainder of the first half, they looked the more threatening side as they registered a total of 11 attempts, with six of them on target. The pick of their chances fell to Leon Bailey after 14 minutes, but his close-range header came back off the crossbar.
Kepa Arrizabalaga then kept Chelsea ahead on the half-hour mark with a world-class save to deny Danny Ings, tipping the striker’s header over the bar from point-blank range.
The woodwork was found again just before the break as Raheem Sterling’s curling effort from inside the penalty area rattled against the bar.
However, Chelsea were the side to get the second goal as Mount secured his brace with a superbly struck free-kick from 25 yards out in the 65th minute to seal an important win for the visitors.
TALKING POINT – VILLA UNLUCKY NOT TO GET SOMETHING FROM THE GAME
Coming into the match, Aston Villa were unbeaten in four matches and looking to pick up another positive result to move away from the relegation zone.
Despite conceding a really sloppy goal early on from a mistake, Gerrard’s side recovered to put it on Chelsea for the remainder of the first half, as they looked dangerous in the final third. Villa’s expected goals (xG) output stood at 2.20 compared to just 1.08 for Chelsea, and Gerrard will still be scratching his head and wondering how his team did not manage to score.
This latest defeat for Villa keeps the pressure firmly on their manager, and the fans once again voiced their frustration at the final whistle with jeers and boos directed towards the team. On the balance of play, the home side will feel very hard done by that they did not manage to get something out of the game, as they were good value for a positive result.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – KEPA ARRIZABALAGA
The Spaniard has kept his place in the Chelsea team ahead of Edouard Mendy, and today he produced one of his best performances during his time at the club, making a series of incredible saves to keep yet another clean sheet.
The pick of the bunch was from Ings in the first half, as he made a fingertip stop to divert the striker’s header over the crossbar from close-range. Shortly before, he also made a stunning triple save to keep Villa out. His shot-stopping was sensational.
In total, the 28-year-old made seven saves during the game, and also won two defensive aerial duels.
Aston Villa: Martinez 6, Cash 6, Konsa 6, Mings 5, Young 6, Ramsey 6, Luiz 6, McGinn 7, Bailey 7, Ings 6, Watkins 6. Subs: Coutinho 6, Dendoncker 6, Buendia 6.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga 9. Chalobah 7, Silva 6, Cucurella 6, Chilwell 6, Kovacic 6, Loftus-Cheek 6, Sterling 7, Mount 9, Havertz 7, Aubameyang 6. Subs: Gallagher 6, Azpilicueta 6, Koulibaly 6, Jorginho 6, Broja 6.
6’- GOAL! (Mason Mount) – Villa make a catastrophic mistake at the back, and Chelsea have the lead! Kovacic picks out Chilwell on the left, before the wing-back cuts inside towards the middle. He attempts to pick out a cross, but the ball floats into the air through a deflection. Mings tries to head it clear, but he misjudges it completely and the ball drops to Mount in the penalty area, and he has an easy finish to put Chelsea in front!
14’ – OFF THE BAR! – Villa almost equalise! Watkins is stopped in his tracks in the left channel, but the loose ball falls to McGinn. He clips a floated cross towards the back post, and Bailey nods the ball goalwards after evading Cucurella, but his header crashes against the crossbar and goes out!
21’ – TRIPLE SAVE! – What outstanding goalkeeping from Kepa! The Villans break down the left, as Young plays a fantastic ball down the byline for Watkins to chase. He is in space, and cuts it back for McGinn inside the penalty area. His low shot at goal is parried by Kepa, and Ramsey elects to hit the follow-up, but the Chelsea keeper makes another great save low to his right! Ings tries again to hit another rebound and Kepa responds again at his near post!
30’ – WORLD CLASS! – Kepa is playing a blinder! Bailey does well to get a yard on Chilwell down the right, before clipping in a cross towards the centre, but Ings’ header is tipped over the crossbar at point-blank range by the Chelsea goalkeeper as he makes a fingertip save!
39’ – OFF THE UPRIGHT – Chelsea come close! Mount evades a challenge in midfield, before threading it forward for Havertz. The German also does really well to keep on his feet after a challenge from Mings. He finds himself a yard on the edge of the penalty area, but decides to cut it back for Sterling to his left, who is in some space. He takes a touch, before arrowing a bending strike towards the top corner, but it comes back off the bar!
65′ – GOAL! (Mason Mount) – Chelsea double their lead with a superb Mason Mount free-kick! His free-kick is from around 25-yards out, and he strikes his dipping effort over the wall and straight down the middle past Martinez! Villa now have a mountain to climb.