Aston Villa hosted Chelsea in a crucial Premier League fixture on Sunday. This was the Blues' first game since Premier League started again, whereas, Aston Villa had already played a game against Sheffield United in mid-week.
Chelsea looked to continue their quest to qualify for next year's Champions League. The game was a good opportunity for the Blues to further establish themselves in the top four as most of their rivals dropped points this week. Villa were looking to get anything from the fixture as they look to survive relegation.
Chelsea started the game brightly. They had the majority of the possession and passed the ball around quickly. However, they struggled to break down Villa's defense.
The Blues came close on a couple of occasions through Mason Mount and Willian, but it was Aston Villa who opened the scoring. Kortney Hause broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute after a good first save from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first half. Chelsea dominated proceedings as they pushed forward to find the equalizer. However, the Blues were not able to apply the finishing touch despite creating several goalscoring chances.
Frank Lampard made his first changes of the day when he bought on Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovačić early in the second half. The substitutions paid off when Pulisic scored the equalizing goal in the 60th minute of the game. The Blues completed the turn around two minutes later when Olivier Giroud scored the match-winning goal.
Frank Lampard's side held onto their lead for the rest of the game. The result helped them increase their lead over Manchester United to five points, whereas Villa remain in the bottom three. On that note, let us look at the hits and flops from the game.
#5 HIT: Olivier Giroud
Frank Lampard started with Olivier Giroud in place of Tammy Abraham in the attack, and the experienced striker justified his manager's decision.
The striker had a quiet first-half as he did not get the service he needed from his teammates. He struggled to make an impact as the Villa defenders marked him closely. However, he showed his experience when he scored from the first clear opportunity he had in the game.
Giroud showed his class with a lovely turn and finish in the second-half to put Chelsea ahead in the game. He was close to leaving the club in January but stayed after Lampard gave him assurances. The Blues will hope he is able to continue scoring goals as they look to finish in the top four.
#4 Flop: Ezri Konsa
Ezri Konsa struggled throughout the game against Chelsea's wingers. The hosts were pushed back into their own half for large parts of the game. They rode their luck into the half-time with a slender lead.
The second half saw Chelsea storm back to lead the game, and both the goals came down Villa's right-hand side. The defender was guilty of ball watching for both the goals. First, it was Pulisic who ghosted in to score the equalizing goal as Konsa failed to look over his shoulder. Seconds later, Azpilicueta was given plenty of room to pick out Giroud, who turned and scored.
Konsa endured a torrid second half and was tormented by the Chelsea attackers as the game progressed.
#3 Hit: Mason Mount
Mason Mount did not end up on the score sheet but his influence on this Chelsea side was visible throughout the game. He sets the tone for Chelsea's pressing, and this game was no different. He was at the center of everything good the away side did throughout the game and constantly pressed the Villa backline to win back possession for his side.
Mount looked dangerous throughout the game and produced the game's first shot on target from distance. The Englishman was constantly drifting out wide and causing problems to Villa's backline and came very close to creating Chelsea's first goal.
The 21-year-old continued the good work in the second half and was involved in the match-winning goal. Mount teed up César Azpilicueta, whose cross was latched onto by Giroud and slammed into the back of the net.
The Blues have been strongly linked to Kai Havertz in recent weeks but Mount's performance reminded everyone how good a player Chelsea have amongst their ranks already.
#2 Hit: Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish has been the stand out performer for Aston Villa this season. The attacker has been in inspiring form this season and is often tasked with creating chances for the Villains. However, he struggled to make an impact against Chelsea.
The skipper struggled to get himself involved in the game and was closely marked by the Chelsea defenders. He played a role in the goal scored by the hosts but was fouled multiple times by the away side whenever he tried to run with the ball.
Grealish was visibly frustrated towards the end of the game and was also involved in a war of words with Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger. Villa would hope that this was a one-off game for their skipper, as they will need him at his best to stand any chance of avoiding relegation this season.
#1 Hit: Cesar Azpilicueta
César Azpilicueta put in a captain's performance for Chelsea in this game. The away side dominated the game which meant that Azpilicueta spent more time in the opposition half.
The full-back was constantly making runs down the line for the away side and always made himself available to receive a pass. Additionally, he provided two assists in the second half, as the Blues produced a stunning turnaround to record a much-needed victory.
Azpilicueta delivered a delicious cross for the equalizer scored by Christian Pulisic, as Chelsea pegged level. Moments later, he assisted the match-winning goal by finding Olivier Giroud in the box.
Frank Lampard will hope that his captain continues to build on this performance in the coming weeks, as Chelsea look to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Published 22 Jun 2020, 02:09 IST