Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa: Watkins & McGinn goals seal disappointing defeat for Blues
Chelsea suffered a poor 2-0 loss against Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday evening.
Graham Potter’s side dropped into the bottom half of the Premier League table after an underwhelming performance against Unai Emery’s team at Stamford Bridge.
The game begun at a fast pace, with both sides playing at a quick tempo. It was the visitors who managed to find an early advantage though, despite squandering a chance just moments before, Ollie Watkins made no mistake the second time round when Marc Cucurella gifted him a golden opportunity.
Chelsea needed a response, and the openings did start appearing for the hosts. Chances fell the way of Mykhailo Mudryk, Ben Chilwell and Joao Felix but they all failed to convert. Chilwell did manage to to put the ball in the net before the break, but the goal did not stand due to a push in Ashley Young’s back.
The players were met by boos as they trudged off the pitch for half-time. Wasted chances and poor work defensively had left the Blues in a tricky spot, a big turnaround was needed in the second 45.
That turnaround did not come though, instead things went further downhill for Chelsea, a brilliant hit from John McGinn was too powerful for Kepa Arrizabalaga and blasted Villa into a 2-0 lead.
In response to the goal, Chelsea introduced both Noni Madueke and N’Golo Kante, with the French World Cup winner making his first appearance for the Blues following his injury that he’d suffered against Tottenham Hotspur in August.
Felix and Kante both had good opportunities but failed in finding the back of the net, and although the game was largely dominated by the west London side, they ultimately were outplayed by Villa.
Potter opted to make three changes to the side that conceded a late equaliser to Everton in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago before the international break. Cucurella, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mudryk were the trio that were called upon. Wesley Fofana was ruled out due to injury, Christian Pulisic was also doubtful and was dropped to the bench and the omission of Benoit Badiashile from the starting XI was perhaps the most surprising.
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The Blues started the contest in a promising fashion, they were quick out the gates. After just 4 minutes a counter-attack for the hosts, led by Kai Havertz, was halted as Boubacar Kamara brought down the German cynically, earning himself an early yellow card.
Continuing at a quick tempo, both teams exchanged good chances in the opening ten minutes. Mudryk capitalised on a sloppy pass from Emiliano Martinez but the Argentinian recovered to deny the winger his first goal in a Chelsea shirt. The visitors then broke forward, an on-form Watkins was slipped in behind and would have hoped to have at least tested Kepa, but he dragged his effort wide.
The next big chance once again fell the away side, a clever pass from Emiliano Buendia found Mcginn who spun his strike off the crossbar. Having been involved been involved in Scotland’s 2-0 win against Spain in midweek, this time luck was not on the side of the Scotsman against the Spaniard.
However, fortunes did turn the way of Emery’s side just moments later, a long ball from Luiz caused problems for the Chelsea backline, Cucurella attemped to deal with the danger but sent Watkins in behind who coolly lobbed Kepa to net his ninth goal of the Premier League season.
Despite largely dominating the possession to this point, the west London side had very little to show for it, eventually though the chances did begin to fall to the hosts.
Mudryk managed to glide through the Villa defence, but wasted a glorious opportunity, hitting his strike low but with little power. A flurry of chances followed this, Chilwell saw an effort from a tight angle rebound out of the post and then Felix failed to direct his shot on target following a scramble after a corner.
The opportunities kept falling for Potter’s side before the half-time break, Havertz managed to get a shot away but Martinez pushed the effort behind for a corner. The Blues even had the ball in the back of the net, Chilwell headed home from a Fernandez delivery, but the goal was ruled as the left-back was judged to have pushed Ashley Young in the back.
As the whistle blew for the interval, boos rang around Stamford Bridge, it was the same old story that has been seen all season from the Blues.
In the 55th minute, N’Golo Kante was set to come off the bench and play for the first time since August as the Blues looked to mount a comeback, but before he was introduced things got even worse for the hosts. A splendid strike from McGinn fired Emery’s side into a 2-0 lead.
Chelsea had to respond quickly, Kante was introduced as well as Noni Madueke following the goal, and Potter’s team begun their hunt for a goal to get them back in the contest.
Felix had been bright going forward for the Blues all game, and in the 60th minute he managed to dance his way into the box, he managed to get off a shot that was dealt with by Martinez, but on the rebound the Portuguese forward was adamant the ball had struck the arm of Tyrone Mings. After a VAR check no penalty was given and the on-field decision was stuck with.
Minutes later, another chance fell the way of the hosts, French midfielder Kante had snuck in behind the defence, but his strike across goal had too much on it and flew wide of the post.
Chelsea continued their search for a way back into the game, but it was to no avail, the second goal had killed off the contest and it was yet another poor result for the Blues.
With fixtures to come against Liverpool and Wolves this week on Tuesday and Saturday respectively, there are some big changes that need to be made.
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