Aston Villa’s Close Shave Becomes a Good Hindsight Point

Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 2

By Rob Carter

In a Word


‘Difficult to explain or understand‘ – Cambridge Dictionary

The Carter Report

As the home faithful poured into Aston and its environs, anticipation was high; a win would surely leave Villa with one foot in the Champions League.  In their way stood a young improving Chelsea side, expensively assembled but still looking to find consistency.  Which version of the London side would turn up? The one that hammered Everton 6-0, or the one that got shot down 5-0 by Arsenal?

In fact, both did.  Defensively weak, but capable of breaking hearts.

Despite a half of Chelsea domination (75% possession), the home side, incredulously, found themselves two goals to the good at half-time, courtesy of an own goal and another magnificent contribution from the gem that is Morgan Rogers.

The half-time drinks flowed on the concourses of the Holte End (well, for those that could get served), but there was a palpable nervousness, and a feeling that Villa had got away lightly in the first half.

The sight of Robin Olsen (not the world’s number two, despite the song from the Holte End), warming up at half-time, did not fill the home sections with confidence.  Emi Martinez had succumbed to injury, and that, coupled with the earlier withdrawal of Youri Tielemans, seemed to drain confidence.

Despite the two-goal lead, or maybe because of it, Villa made the cardinal error of sitting back and allowing Chelsea to have the ball.

Cut to 45 minutes later, and most Villa fans were relieved to be streaming out into the Aston night with a point, particularly in the context of an injury-time goals for the visitors that triggered angry reactions from departing Villans, before eventually being ruled out by VAR.

So what went wrong?

Villa have looked frail defensively for some time, and the lack of Boubacar Kamara in front of the defence has certainly made them less comfortable under pressure.  Una Emery clearly gave the visitors a lot of respect, but seemingly failed to grasp that, every time Villa came forward, they caused Chelsea problems.  A more ‘front foot’ approach may well have secured three points.

In the same way as Villa sat back when 2-0 up against Lille at home or when Spurs came to visit, the concession of territory came back to haunt them.

In the wider context, particularly after Spurs lost to Arsenal on Sunday, Villa still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands.  With winnable games against Brighton and Palace, and the potential to further ruin Jurgen’s Klopp’s farewell tour, Villa will kick themselves if they miss this chance.

You can’t help but feel that the best way to attack the remaining games of the season is to do just that – attack.  When Villa get it right, other teams cannot live with them – even the best.  Just ask Manchester City and Arsenal.

In Unai we trust.


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