Chelsea took advantage of their rivals dropping points by scoring two goals in as many minutes to claim all three points against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
As has been the case in many games since the Premier League’s resumption, there was little in the way of intensity as both teams tried to find their feet after nearly three months without competitive action.
Chelsea did, however, enjoy large swathes of possession, and looked the most likely to score with Mason Mount drawing a superb save from Ørjan Nyland. But despite this, it would be Villa who’d go into half-time with the lead with defender Kortney Hause bundling home after Kepa Arrizabalaga had got down well to save Anwar El Ghazi’s close-range effort.
The second-half started in much the same fashion as the first, with Chelsea camping themselves deep inside Villa’s half and after the introductions of Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley, the pressure soon told. Cesar Azpilicueta picked the ball up before whipping a delivery into the path of the onrushing Pulisic, who hammered home the ball to bring Chelsea level.
Within just a minute of equalising, Frank Lampard’s men took the lead when Azpilicueta once again picked up the ball, this time on the left-hand side, before picking out Olivier Giroud who turned and finished albeit via a deflection.
The result gives Chelsea breathing room in the race for a top-four finish, whilst Villa continue to struggle for form as they look to ensure survival this season.
Here’s how we rated the Chelsea players.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 7
Made some vital saves amidst all of Chelsea’s possession. Despite not keeping a clean sheet, the Spaniard can be pleased with his performance.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 8
Whether from the left or the right, Azpilicueta grabbed both assists as Chelsea completed a quick fire turnaround at the start of the second-half. He offered a constant threat down the flanks, although his lack of pace hindered him when Chelsea looked to break.
Andreas Christensen - 5
Christensen looked lost at times, struggling to anticipate balls into the area. Was also guilty of losing his concentration when mistiming a clearance to allow Jota a free shot on goal.
Antoio Rudiger - 5
Despite being one of the senior names on the team sheet, Rudiger looked wildly out of his depth. Conceded some needless fouls and lacked composure in possession. Chelsea have a real dilemma at centre half and as such, it’s of little surprise that they’ve only kept one clean sheet away from home.
Marcos Alonso - 6
Took up some fantastic positions and trapped the ball well, but like Azpilicueta, he was let down by his lack of pace when carrying the ball. His deliveries also lacked pace and accuracy.
N'Golo Kante - 8
Looked right at home when restored to a deeper role. Marshalled Jack Grealish extremely well, and only looked to concede fouls high up the pitch or to compensate for a teammate’s mistake.
Mateo Kovacic - 6
Looked void of ideas when presented with the ball. His passing was passive and ponderous, and with little work to do off the ball he struggled to impose himself on the game.
Mason Mount - 7
Has started to add consistency to his game that’s been lacking throughout the season. Whilst not actively involved in either of Chelsea’s goals it was his work in pressing the ball high up the pitch and quickly recycling possession that helped bring purpose to The Blues’s attacking play.
Willian - 7
Chelsea’s main attacking outlet, Willian was constantly popping up in pockets of space. Whether creating overloads in wide areas or driving at the heart of Aston Villa’s defence before looking for a shot. His performance will likely be overshadowed by Christian Pulisic’s involvement off the bench, but nonetheless the Brazilian proved his worth.
Olivier Giroud - 8
Struggled to get into the game as Chelsea’s attempts to cross the ball into him were dealt with impressively by the Aston Villa backline. Giroud has now scored in each of his last six appearances against Villa, and his turn and finish, whilst taking a rather fortuitous deflection, highlighted the sort of killer instinct that had deserted Chelsea for much of the game.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek - 5
It’s fair to say that after more than a year out of the game, Loftus-Cheek was bound to find it difficult to acclimatise to life back in the Premier League. He was loose in possession and lacked any real intensity in his pressing. Withdrawn early in the second half, there’ll be plenty more opportunities for the Englishman to shine.
Ross Barkley – 6: He was tidy in possession, but where Kovacic lacked the physicality to compete with Villa’s low block, Barkley added that bite in midfield which was lacking before his introduction.
Christian Pulisic – 8: Made an almost instant impact with a superb run to the back post to equalise for The Blues. Offered a threat in and out of possession. He will surely be given more minutes following his return from injury.
Tammy Abraham – 6: Provided little more than fresh legs, taking just six touches in all.
Reece James – 5: A pretty awful cameo appearance from the youngster. He gave away possession three times despite only being on being on the pitch for six minutes. Luckily, Chelsea held out for an invaluable three points