Giroud scores but Blues can only draw 1-1 against Aston Villa at the Bridge
By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 1 v Aston Villa 1
Olivier Giroud did his bit by scoring, but the Blues were rather insipid and could only draw 1-1 against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge this evening.
Head Coach Frank Lampard lambasted his side at the weekend, demanding a much better performance. This as a slight upgrade on that defeat to Arsenal, but not by much.
There was some positive play by Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell was desperately unlucky not to score deep into added time, but apart from that, the west Londoners did not show the sparkling display of their early season outings.
Villa were happy with a point. The side who survived in the league on the last day of last season are a much tougher prospect and they can count themselves unlucky not to have snatched it. John McGinn saw a blistering left-footer crash off the crossbar. El Ghazi equalised early in the second half.
El Ghazi had the first chance of the game after six minutes when his shot from a Jack Grealish corner took a deflection, which took the sting out of the shot, and the ball fell to Edouard Mendy.
Head coach Frank Lampard made six changes from the humbling defeat to Arsenal at the weekend.
But Chelsea should have scored four minutes later when Christian Pulisic latched onto a misplaced pass by Grealish. He raced into the Villa defence, but could only send his right-footed shot wide of goal.
The American then had another effort, but this time McGinn was able to block the shot for a corner.
Mendy dropped a regulation cross on 30 minutes and Cash was unlucky to see his follow-up shot miss the Chelsea goal.
The Blues then had a golden chance to score when a Cesar Azpilicueta cross panicked the Villa defence leaving Pulisic to overhead kick the ball over the Villa crossbar.
But a minute later, some smart play saw the Blues take the lead, when Pulisic fed Chilwell and Giroud dived low to head the ball past Martinez to open the score
VAR had a look for a Chilwell offside, but ruled he was onside.
There were no changes by either sides at half-time.
But disaster struck five minutes into the second half. With Andreas Christensen on the floor following a clash with Grealish, there was no one taking his position. This allowed El Ghazi free rein to volley home from a deep Cash cross to level the score kicking the ball between Mendy’s leg.
N’Golo tried his luck with a curling left-footer, but the ball sailed high over the Villa crossbar. He had another effort a minute later on 60 minutes, but Martinez read the flight of the goal-bound effort and snaffled the shot into his midriff.
Chelsea had the ball in the back of the Neto 67 minutes when when Azpilicueta tucked the ball home neatly, but Pulisic was well offside early in the move and it was chalked off.
Mendy was rooted to the ground when Joh McGinn crashed a powerful left footer from 30 yards out off the crossbar.
With the game opening up, Lampard made a bold, double substitution, bringing on Kai Havertz and Timo Werner for Jorginho and Giroud on 72 minutes.
The German’s first effort, was wayward and wide with eight minutes left on the cock.
Deep into added time, a wonderful cross by Calum Hudson-Odoi was met by an even better volley by Chilwell, but the ball zipped past Martinez, but also the far post by inches.
Chelsea’s next match against Manchester City at the Bridge on Sunday is in doubt as the away side has an outbreak of Covid in the camp, and their match tonight at Everton was postponed.
Chelsea, Mendy, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Chilwell, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Pulisic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi
Subs: Kepa, Silva, Abraham, Werner, Tomori, Kovacic, Gilmour, Havertz, Emerson
Aston Villa, Martinez, Cash, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi, Watkins
Subs: Heaton, Hourihane, Nakamba, Engels, Guilherme, El Mohamady, Davis, Ramsey
Referee: Stuart Attwell