A game who’s scoreline does not tell the whole story.
Chelsea took on Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Saturday night in the Premier League. The day for the world wide public was largely dominated by Ronaldo’s debut but for Chelsea fans it was the day that Lukaku and Saul would be making their home debuts. Dean Smith picked a defensive side for the game switching to a back three. McGinn, Watkins, and Ings were the relatively attacking players with the rest bringing more to the defence. Tuchel also made some changes but Mendy remained in goal. Chalobah, Silva, and Rudiger started at the back with Hudson-Odoi, and Alonso as the wing backs. Saul made his debut alongside Kovacic while Havertz, and Ziyech started behind Lukaku up top. A strong lineup and Chelsea were ready to go.
The first half was an open one but Villa were dominating the midfield and having better chances at goal. Saul was finding it tough to deal with the pace of the Premier League as his touches and passes were short at times. The physicality also might have caught him off guard. Lukaku got the opening goal in the 15th minute though as Kovacic dribbled past 3 Villa players and played a brilliant through ball into Lukaku. Lukaku sprinted forward and shifted to his right foot before he slotted past Steer. Lukaku had his first goal at Stamford Bridge and the fans went wild. After that it was all Villa as a few more sloppy passes and touches mostly by Saul led to Villa chances and the likes of Silva and Mendy had to be up to the task to keep the ball out. Chelsea did well to keep the scoreline at 1-0.
Tuchel clearly saw the problem and called upon Jorginho at half time. Chelsea got the 2nd goal in the 49th minute as Mings played a short ball to Steer which allowed Kovacic to run onto it and chip it past Steer. Kovacic got his first goal at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea had room to breathe. The 2nd half with Jorginho brought more control to the game and Chelsea resumed normalcy. The final goal came in the 93rd minute as Azpilicueta dribbled into the Villa half and played a ball into Lukaku. Lukaku had dropped back to the edge of the box while Werner ran forward and dragged the Villa defenders with him. The resulting space allowed Lukaku to shoot and score to seal the deal and a big win.
Chelsea Team Preview
Mendy was outstanding. A 3rd clean sheet for the season but this one he really had to work for. The first half especially was a nonstop onslaught at one point with Villa having 18 shots during the game . Mendy does not get given the respect he deserves and he is bordering on the world class territory if he isn’t there yet already. A top top performance.
Chalobah, Silva, and Rudiger put in a shift similar to Mendy. Silva in particular was brilliant in the middle of the back three. At 37 he continues to put in the blocks and tackles needed to keep a clean sheet. Hudson-Odoi had a decent game at right wing back but did not catch the eye. It’s not entirely his fault as it’s not his position but he was good going forward. Alonso had another good game and was captain for the day as well. Azpilicueta came on for Hudson-Odoi in the 2nd half and got an assist to his name while also providing the solidity at the back.
Saul didn’t have the best of debuts but very rarely do people instantly adjust to the Premier League. The physicality and tempo caught him off guard and it will take him to adjust to it. Nothing more than that. Kovacic had a brilliant game and was Man of the Match for me. A constant release valve in the midfield his ability to dribble past players has become something we expect. The forward passes is something he has improved on this season and it was a brilliant one to find Lukaku. The goal was a deft chip past steer, and overall no 8 performance. Jorginho came on at half time and controlled the games tempo in Chelsea’s favour. It was a performance that showed that Chelsea do need the Italian and he is important to how we play.
Havertz, and Ziyech had decent games and were pressed high up the pitch. Chelsea rarely had possession in the 1st half and if we did we found it hard to progress the ball. Ziyech probably had a better outing than Havertz though as he played some incisive balls into the box. Lukaku got two goals from two shots and both were world class goals. The composure for the first one and the power for the second one showed us we finally have a no 9 in the mould of Drogba and Costa. Werner came on in the final 10 and was key for the 3rd goal with his movement. Werner and Lukaku is a combination I want to see more of.
Tuchel would not have been happy with the overall performance of the game but there were several changes and the win is all that matters when players return from the international break. 3 key points with Spurs and City up next. Last season we failed to win either of our games against Villa and this season we managed to win by 3 and keep a clean sheet which is something we would not have managed last season. The main reason was one Romelu Lukaku.
3 points and Chelsea sat 2nd in the league level with leaders Man United. Next up is a visit by Zenit as we begin our Champions League campaign. COME ON CHELSEA!!!