Villa fall short at the Bridge

Villa go down 2-1 at Chelsea. Dave Woodhall comments.

Villa’s games at Stamford Bridge are often action-packed affairs even if most of the action is usually at the wrong end of the pitch. In contrast, this one was a fairly routine game that won’t take up much space on any compilation of the season’s highlights. A team looking to finish in the top four beat a team aiming to stay out of the bottom three while barely breaking sweat; these things happen all the time.

Villa were looking to build on the draw at Old Trafford on Sunday but they were weakened by the absences of Frederic Guilbert and Anwar el Ghazi through suspension and injury respectively. I can’t imagine, though, that their presence would have made much difference because Villa were well beaten and the eventual single goal margin could have been far worse.

As Dean Smith said afterwards, Villa were competitive at times but not for long enough. Mostly they were far too pedestrian and flat, a far cry from Sunday’s heroics. I don’t know what the odds were on Tammy Abraham opening the scoring but they ton Villa and would have been the best value of the night because it was always fated that he would come back from injury to get at least one. he took his goal well, didn’t ceebrate, but was given far too much room by a Villa defence that yet again showed that they seem to have failed to grasp the big difference between this season’s opponents and last – at this level you get punished.

Then Villa managed against the odds to draw level when a cross from replacement right-back Ahmed Elmohamady was bundled over the line by Trezeguet, despite the goalscorer’s best attempts to clear the ball after his mis-timed header. Any hopes that Villa might be able to get something from the match were soon damped, though, when three minutes after the break Abraham created what proved to be the winner for Chelsea.

hey could have scored a few more, Villa never looked capable of a second equaliser. Jack Grealish was too far wide to be at his most dangerous, Wesley should have been dropped weeks ago if only there was anyone to take his place, John McGinn continues to be off his previous immaculate form.

All in all it was a communal off-night, and you’re never going to get anything against a team like Chelsea with so many players out of sorts. At least we can say that this was another game where Villa played one of the top sides and didn’t look out of their depth; Leicester on Sunday will be similar opponents and there has to be a massive improvement in form if Villa are going to get anything from that one.

One final point I did notice, though. Midweek kick-offs got put back from their traditional 7.30 start for increased safety and supporter convenience in the aftermath of Hillsborough thirty years ago. The week they’re back to the old time because of live coverage. It’s good to have more confirmation as to where the Premier League’s priorities lie.