Chelsea – Aston Villa: Muted Exchanges Followed By Fruitless Control (1-1)
A matchup between two teams, level on points, forty-eight hours after their last game was not ideal for both, but Chelsea and Aston Villa served up a feisty affair. Chelsea blew hot and cold, convincing combinations hand-in-hand with fruitless passes, whilst Aston Villa pressed effectively, without feeding their attack as much as they could have.
Tactical analysis and match report by Joel Parker.
Chelsea went into this game having won ten out of the last eleven against Aston Villa, but both clubs’ recent form resulted in this match being closer on paper than one would expect.
Recent score lines have not been very Christmassy for Chelsea. Frank Lampard’s team had lost three out of the last four, undone when facing decent defensive blocks. This was particularly the case in their most recent defeat, away at Arsenal, where they notched up twenty-seven attempted crosses in the second half alone. Their attack was stale, and Lampard’s decision not to bring on Olivier Giroud remains an odd decision days later.
On the other hand, Aston Villa can claim to be the Premier League’s most improved club in the current season. Eight wins out of thirteen meant Dean Smith’s side sat above Chelsea in seventh, and with the opportunity to leap back into the top four with a win. Their season can be credited to the meteoric rise of Jack Grealish and being involved in a team that suits his creative attributes so well.
Playing their second . . .