An important bounce back for the boys in blue as they return to winning ways after a 2 game losing streak in the Premier League. John Terry made his return to Stamford Bridge as assistant to Dean Smith and was given a warm welcome back to his former ground. Aston Villa put on a valiant effort and gave Chelsea a tough game throughout the night. Enough chances were fabricated to put the game to rest but Chelsea managed to hold on for a 2-1 win to put themselves 9 points clear of Tottenham and 6 points ahead of Wolves. Tammy Abraham came back into the starting lineup from a hip injury he picked up last week in the Champions League tie against Valencia. His presence was immediately missed after a loss against West Ham this past weekend at the Bridge. Mason Mount returned to the starting 11 as well in favour of Jorginho. Azpilicueta and Christensen were the other changes made to the line up that was displaced this past Saturday. Azpilicueta was deployed as left-back while Reece James on the right.
Chelsea started off with control on the ball but were constantly giving away sloppy passes to the opposition. The ball wasn’t moving as fast and thus weren’t really breaking Aston Villa’s line of defence. The visitors couldn’t take advantage as their play would breakdown in the final third. Mason Mount had several chances to put the Blues up including a header where he couldn’t muster enough power to put in the net. Around the 15th minute mark, Chelsea were trying to create overloads down their right hand side with Willian and Reece James being the two players that would intertwine with each other. N’Golo Kanté was also joining the in on the action trying to generate crosses in the opposition box. Reece James finally laid off a good cross where Tammy got away from his defenders and headed it past Tom Heaton to give Chelsea the lead in the 24th minute. Abraham was hesitant on celebrating and put his hands up to show his respect to the Villa fans whom are well acquainted with the young English striker.
Aston Villa replied well, pressing even harder and giving Chelsea a hard time in playing out from the back. This led to more mistakes from the Blues and chances to Dean Smith’s side. The Chelsea midfield had some trouble dealing with Jack Grealish, at times producing silly fouls on the young English midfielder. He constantly went on vibrant runs from midfield and was always looking for his teammates in the final third.
The pressure was mounting as the visitors had the momentum on their side and were working hard to cover the gaps Chelsea was seeking. A cross from Ahmed Elmohamady on their right hand side found Mahmoud Trezeguet who managed to beat his man and get past the Chelsea defence to score and equalise right before the break. This was a tricky one for Kepa to handle as the ball deflected off Trezeguet chest onto his shoe going right into the bottom right corner. After the goal, Villa continued their persistent press and the game started to become more scrappy. Tension from both teams arose with many scuffling happening around the pitch including a push from Grealish to Kovačić that sent the Croatian fumbling into the sideboard. The half time whistle blew and Chelsea fans moaned in disappointment with their side blowing the lead right before the half ended.
The second half was a different story as Chelsea picked up the pace and were passing the ball swifter and with more intention. Pulisic was also dynamic, continually getting on the ball and inside the box but was slow at times with his decision making. Nonetheless he was a factor on the pitch and his energy was causing Aston Villa problems down their right hand side. Willian’s pace was also causing problems and his first step managed to get an accurate cross in the box in the 48th minute. Tammy got his chest on the ball and provided a sublime ball to Mason Mount who followed up with an extraordinary power volley to put the Blues back up 2-1. Mount was up and running after his goal and was persistently getting into attacking areas linking up with his fellow teammates. Chelsea had their momentum back in their favour and looked like they were going to score again.
Many opportunities arose for Chelsea but they could not find the third goal which allowed Aston Villa to stay in the game throughout the whole 90 minutes. The directness of the visitors had Chelsea scrambling at times and Villa managed to get between the lines and get into dangerous areas. Frank Lampard made his first change with Michy Batshuayi coming in for Tammy Abraham who picked up a slight knock on his knee where he most likely got tangled up with several of the Aston Villa’s defenders. Christian Pulisic made way for Hudson-Odoi in the in the 86th minute and looked bright for his short stint on the pitch. Lampard made his last substitution in stoppage time with Willian coming off for Jorginho stacking the midfield to ensure the victory. The nervousness never went away until the final whistle was blown. It was disappointing to not see the game finished earlier on with the chances Chelsea managed to produce. They recorded a total of 26 shots and 22 chances created to Aston Villa’s 9 shots and 9 chances created.
Tammy picked up man of the match with a goal and assist in his return and was given a round of applause when substituted off. John Terry was given a warm reception after the game was the fans were showing their love for the former skipper. Chelsea’s next stop is at Goodison Park where they will visit Everton on the weekend where they will hope to continue their exceptional away form.