Dean Smith’s Aston Villa side threw away another lead against Chelsea, meaning they remain in 19th.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa hosted Chelsea at Villa Park this afternoon, in their second game following the resumption of the season.
Chelsea started the game quickly, looking to impose their dominance early with a strong shape and quick attacking play.
Aston Villa’s side was unchanged from the goalless draw against Sheffield United, with Dean Smith sticking with his faith in Keinan Davis up front and Orjan Nyland in goal.
The first ten minutes saw Chelsea certainly on the front food, with the Villans sitting deep and soaking up pressure, keeping their discipline and shape.
It looked as if Dean Smith’s side had grown into the came around the fifteenth minute mark, with the press and attacking passing looking more confident.
Orjan Nyland was called into action in the 21st minute as Mason Mount skipped away from Douglas Luiz and fired a strong shot with his weak foot towards goal. The Norwegian keeper was agile in his save, palming it away to his left.
The first save that Kepa, the Chelsea keeper, was forced into came in the 32nd minute as Anwar El Ghazi rocketed a shot from outside the box towards the bottom right of the Spaniard’s goal, which the ‘keeper parried.
John McGinn had an opportunity with a header at the near post just a minute later following an El Ghazi corner, but the Scotland international couldn’t connect and the ball trickled well wide.
Chelsea were dominating possession and continued to push down Aston Villa’s left side, with Matt Targett struggling against an onslaught of black shirts. Their work down the left nearly paid off as Mount cut the ball across the face of goal, but Loftus-Cheek couldn’t poke the ball home.
In the 43rd minute a well worked set piece gave Aston Villa the lead as Jack Grealish held the ball for a long period down the right, before cutting the ball back for Douglas Luiz with a perfectly weighted pass. Luiz curled a cross towards the back post, where Kortney Hause got to the ball first. The centre-back volleyed the ball towards goal, forcing a save, before scrambling for the rebound and slicing the ball haphazardly into the bottom right corner.
Conditions worsened as the first half edged towards a close, with the rain starting to pelt down onto the Villa Park pitch.
Kortney Hause’s first Premier League goal, which meant that he has now scored at all four levels of professional English football, meant that Aston Villa went in ahead at the break.
The second half started much like the first, with Chelsea dominating down the wings and continually firing crosses into the box. In the first few minutes, Aston Villa dealt with them well, but couldn’t get out of their own half.
The 55th minute saw Chelsea make the first changes of the day, bringing on Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley for Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. A minute later, and Keinan Davis was replaced by Mbwana Ally Samatta for Aston Villa.
It was one of the subs that changed the face of the game. Finally, on the hour mark, Azplicueta played a strong ball to the back post where an unmarked Pulisic managed to poke a toe onto ball, hitting it off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Just a minute and a half later, and Giroud gave Chelsea the lead. The Aston Villa defence looked panicked as the French forward turned in the box and fired towards goal – with the ball taking a wicked deflection from Hourihane’s boot.
Kourtney Hause had a chance to level the score with his second of the game in the 68th with a from a Hourihane free-kick, but the defender headed over the bar.
Following the second-half water break, Trezeguet and Marvelous Nakamba replaced Conor Hourihane and Anwar El Ghazi.
With ten minutes remaining, Giroud, who’s goal separated the two sides, was replaced by former Villan Tammy Abraham.
Nyland was forced into a fingertip save from Willian in the 83rd minute as the Brazilian fired from outside of the box towards the top right. Three minutes later, and John McGinn was replaced by Jota Peleteiro.
With Jota’s first touch, the Spaniard very nearly levelled the play after a mistake from Christensen, but the midfielder dragged his shot just wide.
In five minutes of added time, Aston Villa couldn’t muster anything of note and head into the game against Newcastle on Wednesday needing to pick up points.