We took the scenic route but Chelsea got the job done!
On a weekend where Leicester, United, Sheffield, Spurs all dropped points it was important that Chelsea should get three against Villa especially with City up next. We made it difficult for ourselves as usual but we got the job done. The team selection was a bit of a shocker as my FPL team was thrown in the bin with the starting XI that Lampard had selected. In goal was Kepa, a back four of Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, and Alonso followed. A midfield of Kante, Kovacic, and Mount were followed by a front three of Willian Giroud, and Loftus-Cheek. After the initial moaning it was clear that Lampard had City in mind and that this was probably the most experienced team he could field in terms of minutes. The highlight was of course seeing RLC start a game after a year and more.
The game was a story of two halves as Chelsea dominated the 1st having 77% position. Our build up play looked smooth and we were easily getting into the final 3rd but our crosses were always being met by Villa heads as we failed to deliver the final ball. RLC had the best moment of the half for Chelsea as Mount did well to dribble past a few players and deliver a deadly cross across the box but Loftus-Cheek was a fraction late and missed the opportunity for a tap in. In typical Chelsea fashion though we conceded in the 43rd minute as a set piece came in which was initially saved by Kepa but the rebound was bundled home by Hause to give the home team a lead.
Chelsea started the 2nd half with the same energy as the first as we continued to dominate play as Villa began to fall deeper and deeper into their half. Pulisic, and Barkley came on for RLC, and Kovacic early in the 2nd half to provide some attacking creativity and the impact was instant. The equaliser came in the 60th minute as Azpilicueta once again crossed the ball this time it was perfect and an arriving Pulisic blasted it into the net. The winner came 2 minutes later as Mount and Giroud linked up well to enter the Villa box with the ball falling to Azpi once again who passed to Giroud and the Frenchman swerved to give Chelsea the lead. Chelsea searched for the 3rd for the final part of the game but Villa defended well while also keeping Kepa alert on the other side. A nervy ending but 3 points for Chelsea as we remain 4th in the table 5 points clear from United and only 3 behind Leicester.
Player wise Kepa was decent, and not at fault for the goal that was conceded. Azpilicueta was solid and provided both the assists for the goals, although his crossing in the 1st half had been decent at best. Christensen and Rudiger were relatively solid with Christensen providing numerous good long balls but aerially work needs to be done. Alonso was decent as well providing some solid crosses. Kante was imperious in the lone defensive midfielder role as he literally let no on through, with the Frenchman looking like his old self once again. Kovacic looked rusty but still had some good moments on the ball while Mount was one of the best players on the pitch. The youngster could have easily had a goal and an assist but tirelessly patrolled the pitch for 90 minutes. Willian was Willian for the 90 all gas no end product. Giroud was himself and connected well with the players around him as got the winner and continued his goalscoring form from pre lockdown. Pulisic made an instant impact of the bench and was lively for his cameo as he pinned back defenders with his dribbling. Barkley was solid as well distributing the ball well. Tammy did not have much time to make an impact while Reece came on for Willian late on and looked a bit sloppy as he also couldn’t gel into the game. My man of the match for this game would be Kante, followed closely by Mount and Pulisic.
For the first game 3 points were the main objective and we accomplished that. Some players looked rusty but that is a given. Next up is Man City on Thursday night which should be a lively affair. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!.