Chelsea 0 – 2 Aston Villa
Chelsea 0 – 2 Aston Villa. Aston Villa manager Unai Emery masterminded another victory away from home with a composed display against Chelsea to increase pressure on Blues boss Graham Potter.
Ollie Watkins opened the scoring from a Marc Cucurella blunder at Stamford Bridge, latching on to the Chelsea defender’s backwards header to lob home, before John McGinn’s second-half rocket put the game out of reach for the home side.
It was a familiar tale for Chelsea, who squandered chance after chance as Villa exploited their weakness on the counter-attack.
It is the Villans fifth win on the road since Emery took over in October and means they have now picked up 16 points away from home, a tally equalled only by Manchester City in that time.
All 10 of Chelsea’s victories this season have come against bottom-half opposition but this loss means they drop into 11th themselves while Villa move up to ninth, one point off Liverpool in eighth.
Aston Villa’s record of 26 points in 14 games under Emery is bettered only by the Premier League’s top three – Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.
Based on this performance, it is easy to see why.
Villa were happy to sit back and allow Chelsea to dominate in the attack, creating little themselves but benefiting from the home side’s poor finishing.
McGinn had hammered a powerful strike off the bar moments before Watkins’ opener but fired a 25-yard shot into the net in the 56th minute while Watkins’ goal was his fifth in as many consecutive away matches.
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, making his 100th Aston Villa appearance, made a superb save with his feet to deny Joao Felix in the latter stages – as Emery’s genius engineered an important away win.
Emery outlined his side’s European ambitions after their 3-0 win over Bournemouth last time out – and with this victory, Villa’s hopes of qualification are growing.
Chelsea were 12 places above Villa when the reverse fixture was played on 16 October, but they were separated only by goal difference coming into this game.
While their two wins in three matches before the international break had eased some pressure on Potter, this loss puts him firmly back in the spotlight.
His side were victims of their own downfall for the opener as Cucurella’s error, which could have been avoided had he left the ball for Kalidou Koulibaly to clear, allowed Watkins to chip goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, and they were vulnerable to the break throughout.
Trailing by one, they went on to pepper Villa’s goal with chances as Kai Havertz and Felix saw efforts well saved. Then Ben Chilwell headed home a perfectly weighted Enzo Fernandez pass but was deemed to have pushed Ashley Young in the back as he leapt and the goal was disallowed.
Chelsea’s best chance came to Mykhaylo Mudryk – signed in January in an £89m deal – when he collected the ball just inside the area and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper but his tame effort barely tested Martinez.
The Ukraine winger is yet to find the net in eight Chelsea appearances – and the sense that Potter is missing a clinical scorer remains. Here, they drew a blank despite 27 efforts at goal.
Their lack of potency persisted in the second half as N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic also missed chances and fans made their disappointment known as boos rang around Stamford Bridge at full-time.
source – BBC