Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea – Premiership Live Blog – 21 February 2009
Third take on fourth in the Premiership as this season’s surprise package Aston Villa host Chelsea for the lunchtime kick off. Chelsea trail 10 points behind leaders Manchester United and a very good Villa side could heap even more misery on Guus Hiddink’s beleaguered Blues. Daily Soccer Blog will be on hand to provide updates of all the action throughout the game.
New Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink faces a baptism of fire when he takes flagging Chelsea to Aston Villa, the team which top the Premiership form table with 16 points from the last 18 available. Villa are unbeaten at home in nine matches and have not lost to Chelsea in the league since 1999, chalking up three wins and six draws.
Martin O’Neill’s side are unbeaten in 13 Premiership matches, second only to Liverpool on 14, while Chelsea have lost two of their last 10. Both sides may have one eye on next week’s European fixtures, with Villa taking a 1-1 first leg draw with CSKA Moscow to Russia, while Chelsea tackle Juventus in the Champions League at Stamford Bridge.
Villa could be without both Emile Heskey and James Milner who are struggling for fitness. Heskey aggravated an achilles problem while on England duty and Milner has a problem with his thigh. Chelsea are suffering a defensive crisis, with Alex and Ricardo Carvalho doubtful for the match and Ashley Cole serving a ban. England prospect Michael Mancienne could come in to partner John Terry at the heart of Chelsea’s back four or Hiddink could opt for Branislav Ivanovic.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Davies, Knight, Luke Young, Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Heskey, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Carew, Delfouneso, Salifou, Shorey, Gardner.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ferreira, Mikel, Ballack, Lampard, Kalou, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Quaresma, Deco, Belletti, Mancienne, Stoch.
Chelsea: Anelka (19′)
90+1′ Deco toys with Knight on the left touchline and cuts the ball back to the awaiting Ballack. The German strikes it first time and sends a stinging effort straight for the top corner which Friedel tips over the crossbar. When Chelsea do things like this they are unbeatable, but most of the time they don’t bother.
90′ Four minutes of stoppage time are added. Belletti comes on to replace Drogba for the last few minites.
89′ Terry bodychecks Agbonlahor and gives away a needless free kick, for which he is booked. Barry curls it in towards the far post and it looked as though Carew may get on the end of it. He didn’t and the chance is gone.
85′ Chelsea’s timewasting continues and at last Mark Halsey sees sense and books Bosingwa who thought it right to take a nap before delivering his throw in. Ironic cheers echo around the ground.
84′ Bosingwa plays a one-two with Drogba on the edge of the Villa box and attempts to sidefoot an effort past Friedel from a tight angle. It’s a comfortable save for the big American who parries it away.
81′ Carew makes his first contribution since coming on. Unfortunately his header from a corner is weak and goes miserably wide.
80′ Boos ring out around Villa Park as Chelsea look to waste as much time as possible. They eventually take a throw in and work the ball to Deco. The Portuguese snaps at a shot from the edge of the area and screws it well wide.
78′ At last, some action. Ferreira brings down Agbonlahor who is just too quick for him. Barry curls in the free kick towards the far post but no Villa players bother to challenge for it, allowing Cech to calmly pluck the ball out of the air.
75′ The introduction of Carew hasn’t helped Villa’s cause yet. In fact, nothing is happening. Chelsea look comfortable while Villa look resigned to defeat. Come on! Make some effort, there are still 15 minutes left yet!
70′ O’Neill makes an attacking substitution by bringing on midweek goal scorer John Carew for defender Curtis Davies. Cue lots of long balls up to him and fellow work horse Heskey.
68′ Just as the match was getting very scrappy, Villa get a great chance to equalise. Agbonlahor nodded the ball down to Barry who found himself in acres of space just outside the box. He welts an effort towards goal which forces a diving save from Cech.
63′ Chelsea break quickly and a headed clearance finds Lampard lurking on the edge of the box. His effort is blocked and is deflected behind for a corner.
60′ Ashley Young races down the left and sends a cross towards the near post. Cech catches it with ease and neither Heskey nor Agbonlahor were anywhere near to challenge for the ball. The match has gone off the boil a little.
55′ The much-maligned Deco comes on to replace a largely ineffective Kalou.
53′ Agbonlahor is giving Alex a torrid time down the left. He brushes aside the Brazilian defender and bares down on goal. He attempts to curl the ball in but Cech parries it away brilliantly for a corner. Milner looks to half volley in from six yards but desperate Chelsea defending block the effort behind for another corner.
52′ Carlos Cuellar is the first player to be booked following a late tackle on Anelka.
49′ Terry sees another good headed effort saved off the line. A Chelsea corner is met perfectly from a standing position by Terry and the ball looked to be heading straight for the top corner with Friedel well beaten, until Petrov headed the ball off the line.
48′ Agbonlahor easily beats Alex for pace but he gets his cross all wrong. It’s a shame because Heskey was waiting in the box for some decent service.
46′ Chelsea get the second half underway. No changes have been made to either side.
Half Time. Chelsea looked as though they could run away with it after some sublime play by Lampard and Drogba resulted in the opening goal. However, full credit to Villa who managed to weather the storm and had some very good chances of their own in the latter stages of the half and came very close to levelling the score. Chelsea deserve their lead at the break but Villa are not out of this by a long shot.
45+1′ Chelsea work the ball down the right with Drogba and Lampard. Drogba delivers a good ball into the box which Ballack is close to making contact with a stooping header.
41′ It’s the home side who are finishing the first half strongly. Alex pulls Ashley Young’s shirt and gives away a free kick which Young delivers brilliantly into the box. Davies is inches away from getting his head on it and again Chelsea survive.
38′ Villa get another good chance and again Ashley Young is involved. The flying winger sends in a dangerous cross towards Agbonlahor who almost gets on the end of it. Chelsea’s defence were nowhere in sight but the ball disappointingly bounces out for a goal kick.
33′ Heskey goes down very easily from a non-challenge by Alex just in front of the D. Ashley Young curls an effort towards the top corner and he is very unfortunate to see it clatter off the underside of the crossbar. Peter Cech was well beaten and Villa could have easily been back on level terms.
31′ Another super chance for Chelsea who are having it all their own way. Lampard swings in a corner and Terry is given license for a free header at goal from six yards out. Friedel reaches out a hand to palm the ball behind for another corner.
28′ Chelsea should be 2-0 up. Drogba breaks free of Cullear and he heads for the byline. He doesn’t see either Lampard or Anelka who are both free in the middle and with Friedel left with no option but to try and close the striker down, a simple cutback would have given either of them an open goal. However, he passes it straight to Knight and the ball bobbles up into Friedel’s grateful arms. Lampard is visibly annoyed with the chance that was wasted.
26′ Lampard again finds himself in acres of space. He attempts a one-two with Drogba on the edge of the Villa box but it comes to nothing. Villa are unsurprisingly able to break quickly on the counter attack, such is the pace in their team but Chelsea are marshalling them well in defence.
24′ Mikel gets away with a warning for a “striker’s challenge” on Heskey on the touchline. Petrov swipes hopefully at the ball just inside the Chelsea box but it’s well wide.
19′ Goal! Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 1. Absolutely stunning by Chelsea. Frank Lampard showed magnetic ball control and left Davies and Petrov for dead before playing Nicolas Anelka into the penalty box. The striker wasted no time and dinked the ball over the advancing Friedel to break the deadlock. The finish wasn’t half bad, but what about the set up by Lampard? Wonderful stuff by Chelsea who are well worth the lead.
14′ Lampard thunders a free kick straight into the wall but Chelsea manage to work the ball into the box. Kalou goes and spoils a half decent move by clambering all over Davies and giving away a free kick.
12′ It’s the away side doing all the pressing. Kalou slipped the ball through to Anelka on the left but the Frenchman could not deliver an accurate cross into the box. Villa are not looking very assured at the back.
9′ Chelsea are being given free reign at Villa Park. Nobody closes down Lampard who is allowed to advance and he sees a long range effort go just over the bar. Friedel looked to have it covered, though.
8′ Villa are making a meal of seemingly harmless situations. A long ball was not dealt with and Knight had to launch the ball over the bar from 25 yards out with Kalou lurking.
3′ Chances at both ends. Drogba fires a tame shot at Friedel from inside the box and moments later Cech spills a cross in the six yard box which Agbonlahor tees up for Heskey only for him to send the ball into Row Z.
1′ It’s Villa who kick off. A victory here could end Chelsea’s interest in the Premiership and establish Martin O’Neill’s side as genuine title contenders. Exciting times indeed at Villa Park.
0′ We’re just a few minutes away from one of the Premiership-defining games of the season. New Chelsea boss Hiddink looks to buck the trend by partnering Anelka and Drogba in attack for only the second time this season. Surely it didn’t take a drastic change of manager to decide to play the best two strikers at the club up front together?
An excellent result for Guus Hiddink on his first game in charge. Chelsea went to a very good Aston Villa side and ended their recent unbeaten home run. The Blues dominated the match for large parts of the game and were unlucky not to score more than one goal. The goal which settled the match was magnificent, with creator Lampard showing just why is one of the best midfielders in the Premiership, if not the world. Villa were unlucky not to equalise through Ashley Young’s free kick, but overall Martin O’Neill’s side lacked the cutting edge which was required in such an important match. The result sees Chelsea leapfrog their opponents into third place and perhaps ends Villa’s fading hopes of winning the Premiership this season.
Man of the Match
While Nicolas Anelka got the winner, the goal was all about Frank Lampard. After dominating the midfield, he showed great skill to shift the ball from one foot to the other and take Davies and Petrov out of the game. The ball played into Anelka was inch-perfect and the finish sublime. Lampard was a threat from set-pieces all afternoon and he delivered two excellent corners to John Terry in the box, with the defender unlucky not to score from either of them. Lampard could have also got on the scoresheet himself, if Drogba had spotted him unmarked in the box during the first half and he would have had an open goal to aim for.