Chelsea just can't buy a goal as Aston Villa win 2-0 to rub further salt into Potter's wounds
By Alessandro Schiavone at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa
Chelsea’s bubble has already burst as the Blues slipped to a shock 2-0 home defeat against Aston Villa.
Goals from Ollie Watkins and John McGinn did the job for Unai Emery’s side as the Blues failed to score despite throwing the kitchen sink the visitors, missing a vast amount of chances.
Villa had four chances and buried two of them, that’s a 50% scoring ratio. Graham Potter would kill to be in that position and to have an Ollie Watkins leading his line. Because if Chelsea had converted every other chance this would have been a mismatch. And the game would certainly have ended as a tennis scoreline. But it’s not just Chelsea’s poor finishing that dented their chances, far from it. Argentine World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez played the game of his Premier League life while the defenders in front of him defended for their lives. All behind the ball, bodies on the line, blocking every shot. That’s a famous trademark of the Spanish tactician.
Yet how many times have we said, thought and written about it? Chelsea can’t buy a goal. They dominate games, create a host of chances yet lose because they have nobody finishing them off.
Early on Mikhailo Mudryk failed to pounce on a wayward pass from Martinez towards Kamara, seeing his effort blocked by the Argentine’s left loot. It was then Watkins’s turn to fluff his lines, dragging his shot wide through on goal following a lovely weighted McGinn pass into space. With one spurned chance apiece, this game was turning into a contest between who wasted the highest amount of clear cut ones. And Villa went close again, only for Scotsman McGinn to send his shot against the crossbar on the turn. Yet Watkins showcased his killer instinct when a failed Marc Cucurella headed clearance set him up perfectly in front of goal. And he made no mistake to put the visitors ahead on 18 minutes with a lobbed finish
It was the Blues’ turn to lay siege to Villa’s goal but it just didn’t fall for them. Martinez produced a superb low save to deny Joao Felix while Enzo Fernandez came close to heading Reece James’ cross the right side of fellow World Cup winner Martinez’s post. Other missed chances through Havertz, Felix, Mudryk on a one-on-one and Chilwell volleying his effort against the crossbar added to Chelsea’s woes as the players were booed off the pitch at half-time.
It was the same old same after half-time as the west Londoners shipped a 60th-minute goal before spurning a tsunami of chances to reopen the game.
First through Koulibaly who headed over from a corner before Martinez blocked Atletico Madrid loanee Felix’s effort with his foot. In the latter stages of the game, the returning N’Golo Kante angled his shot a bit too much.
Chelsea’s European race was perhaps all but run already before kick-off. But this setback, just when it seemed things had picked up, isn’t the confidence boost they need less than a fortnight before taking on Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Being in the middle reaches of the Premier League isn’t what the club are used to. But that’s the bitter reality when you spent £330 million in a January transfer window yet fail to address your goalscoring problem by missing out on signing a real no.9.
Chelsea: Kepa, James, Loftus-Cheek, Koulibaly, Cucurella, Chilwell, Fernandes, Kovacic, Havertz, Mudryk, Felix. Subs: Badiashile, Kanté, Pulisic, Bettinelli, Chalobah, Mount, Gallagher, Chukwuemeka, Madueke.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Young, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, Luiz, Kamara, McGinn, Buendia, Ramsey, Watkins. Subs: Silva, Traore, Chambers, Duran, Digne, Bailey, Dendoncker, Sinisalo, Wright.