Premier League was back this weekend when League leaders Chelsea traveled to Villa Park to square up against a struggling Aston Villa side.
Jose Mourinho, having never won at Villa Park while in charge with the Blues, expected nothing less than 3 points this time around.
The Portuguese also made a couple of changes (none of them forced though) to his squad that played a draw against City last weekend with Gary Cahill and Drogba coming in place of Zouma and Remy respectively. Meanwhile, Cuadrado managed to make his way to the bench as well.
So, let’s get on with the initial reaction now to see how the game panned out for the Blues:
– First of all, we look good in away colors. A little odd but good.
Chelsea started the game as expected; dominant in possession as we looked to break down a deep Villa defense.
The hosts, as expected, sat deep, defending in numbers while expecting to catch us on the counter.
– Chelsea drew the first blood quite early in the 8th minute with the first attack of the evening.
Didier Drogba released Oscar on the Right Wing as the Brazilian pass found an onrushing Willian in the box whose first touch pass to Hazard was smartly put behind the net by the Belgian.
And just like that it was 1-0 Chelsea. Good link-up play from our front four!
– The hosts did have a decent passage of play as a response to Chelsea’s goal as they managed to win a few corners and cause a bit of concern around our back four.
Agbonlahor did have a free header to shoot around the 18th-minute mark from a Fabian Delph’s cross, but he missed the target altogether.
– Half an hour gone and there was nothing major to write about as most of the game was played in the midfield and neither of the sides was able to manage a clear cut chance in the opposition box.
Chelsea struggled to get their creative players involved on the ball as we knocked around in our own half, playing a few long balls now and then for Drogba to latch on to.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, stuck with their counter-attacking strategy probably realizing it could be their only chance to salvage anything from this fixture.
– Ramires almost doubled the lead in the 38th minute for the Blues, but the Brazilian was denied from an amazing block by Ciaran Clark, few yards in front of the goal post.
It started getting pretty heated out there on the pitch as there were plenty of fouls committed by both the sides, especially the hosts who showed their physical side, collecting a few bookings in the process.
– The first half ended with Chelsea leading the battle 1-0.
Chances were few and far in between for both the teams as most of the game was played in the midfield. Hazard gave us an early lead in the 8th minute but, by no means, we looked at our best at Villa Park.
This looked like a sort of fixture where we had to grind out a result rather than come out with flair and style, and that’s exactly what we did in the first half.
Let’s see what the next half had in store for us:
– The second half started with Jose Mourinho making no changes to the starting line-up.
It was Villa who started the half sharply and had a couple of half-chances in the space of few minutes. The home side came banging on our doors, and Okore did manage an equalizer in the 48th minute to make it 1-1.
It was some awful and careless play from Chelsea which allowed the home side to score their first goal in more than 650 minutes of PL football! Giving away a free header from a corner is not what you would expect from us! Just awful from Chelsea!
– The equalizer did wake us up from our sleep as we started to look dangerous on the attack.
Willian had a couple of tries from outside the box, but the Brazilian missed the target on both the occasions.
With 3 important points on the line, Mourinho introduced Loic Remy in the 64th minute in place of Didier Drogba who didn’t exactly looked good in his time on the pitch.
– What is the sign of a Champion? Scoring goals when it matters!
Azpilicueta left the Villa defense for dead by cutting inside rather easily from the left and although, the Spaniard’s first attempt to cross was dealt with by the opposition. They couldn’t quite clear it though and the ball fell back to the fullback who found Ivanovic unmarked in the box with his second attempt. The Serbian’s left-footed thunder strike found the topmost corner of Brad Guzan’s net to make it 2-1.
A strike that even a Striker would be proud of! Brilliant from Ivanovic
– Mourinho deciding it’s time to close down introduced Mikel for Oscar in the 73rd minute as Chelsea reverted to a 4-3-3 with Ramires in his preferred Shuttler role.!
The wait to watch Juan Cuadrado in Blue was finally over when the Colombian was introduced in place of Willian at the 79th minute amidst a good reception from Blue fans.
– We had no problem controlling the pace of the game and knocking the ball around the midfield once Mikel was introduced on the pitch.
The talk of the town was obviously Cuadrado and the Colombian did look good in his cameo as he showed some good pace and dribbling skills and also the intention to take on his men, something we seriously needed to compliment Hazard on the opposite wing.
– There wasn’t much Aston Villa could have done as Chelsea shut the play completely with some brilliant defending and closing down as the final whistle went down.
The game ended 2-1 in favor of the Blues and with our closest rivals drawing 1-1 to Hull City, we are 7 POINTS CLEAR AT THE TOP!
Yeah, let that sink in a bit! 7 points clear with just 14 games to go; the title is surely ours!
Will see you on 12th. Till then enjoy the lead and don’t forget to KTBFFH!
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Edited By: Sheetanshu