Not the response I wanted but a step in the right direction…
Chelsea welcomed Villa for MW 16 of the Premier League season and what was the Blues last home game of 2020. Chelsea were the team in poor form heading into the game while Villa were flying high after some brilliant results. Lampard made several changes to the starting XI mainly due to the fact we played little less than 2 days ago. Mendy remained in goal with Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, and Chilwell making up the defence. Jorginho, Kante, and Mount made up the midfield while Pulisic, and Hudson-Odoi started as the winger’s either side of Giroud. Villa named an unchanged starting XI with the only replacement being Konsa who came in for Mings.
The 1st half saw both teams exchange periods of possession while the other team counter attacked. Villa dominated the opening minutes but both teams were able to exchange blows. Chelsea began to grow into the game at around the 30th minute and we managed to string together some good periods of play. Giroud scored the opening goal in the 34th minute as Pulisic played a good pass into Chilwell who’s cross found Giroud who finished with a neat header. Chelsea had several more chances in the box to put a few more past Martinez but our finishing was off with the likes of Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, and Giroud missing some good chances. The 1st half ended with Chelsea on the up.
The 2nd half saw Villa change gears and press with intent as they began to take the game to Chelsea. The defence did well for large parts of the opening minutes but El Ghazi grabbed the equaliser in the 50th minute as a Matty Cash cross found him at the far post. There was a preceding incident where Christensen collided with Grealish but no foul was called and with Christensen down it meant that the El Ghazi was left unmarked. The game ended with Chelsea getting the chances to grab the winner but McGinn did manage to hit the post with a long range effort while Azpilicueta did have the ball in the back of the net but the initial contact was deemed offside. Werner also had a good chance to grab the winner while Chilwell’s volley at the very end came close to being the winner.
Chelsea Team Review
Mendy couldn’t keep a clean sheet in the game and he did look a bit off. He did grow into the game though and the goal was too close for him to react fully to it. Struggling with form as with the rest of the team and he needs to regain the confidence.
The defence did quite well generally, I think Christensen should have gotten up to track back for the El Ghazi goal but he was decent. Rudiger was ok but the two lacked any aerial threat from corners. Azpilicueta was quite good but Chilwell was probably our best defender in this game. He looked like he was returning to fitness and he managed to get the assist and could have probably scored the winner as well.
I’m not a big fan of the Jorginho in the pivot role and Kante as an 8 formation because it negates Kante. Jorginho is great in the pivot but usually against teams that sit back. Against someone like Villa Jorginho is pressed and tends to lose the ball on some occasions. Kante on the other hand is great at the CDM role but when he plays as an 8 he finds himself right outside the opposition box and fails to find the final pass or shot to take advantage. This game had so many of those situations and all I wanted was for Havertz to be there to take advantage. Mount played well but looks tired and needs a rest. Havertz did come on later on and some of the play was good.
Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi had two very good games once again and both staked a claim to start again although if Ziyech is fit by the next time we are back then CHO might drop out. Pulisic’s direct runs caused several problems while he did get into good positions but failed in his final shots. Hudson-Odoi’s passing was brilliant and he delivered some pinpoint crosses into the box it was great to see. Giroud got another great goal as well. Werner did come on late on and he had one good chance towards the end but it didn’t hit the back of the net.
Team selection was good and we probably should have won the game with the chances we had. The response from the team was better than Arsenal but still not up to scratch although having played 2 games in 2 days a point against an in form Villa side isn’t the end of the world. Lampard has work to do in the coming week or so and again the key is getting Werner and Havertz back to their confident selves.
Chelsea move up to 6th with the draw while Villa move up to 5th. Chelsea’s next game is scheduled to be Man City on Sunday although with their Covid outbreak it is yet to be seen whether that goes ahead. If we do miss the game then its Morecambe in the FA Cup next and our next league game would be Fulham on the 16th. Its a little more than a fortnight and a break of sorts for the players and Lampard to regain form and confidence and come back fighting. COME ON CHELSEA!!!