11/09/2021 5:30 pm
Referee: Stuart Attwell
|Lukaku (15, 90+3), Kovacic (49)|
After the nonsense that was the September international break
fiasco that leaves many Aston Villa fans feeling cheated as we tried to do the right thing by Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia only to see international associations crumble, well, it’s fair to say it hasn’t been the best preparation for today’s late evening clash with Chelsea.
Minus the Emi’s as they hole up in Croatia, head coach Dean Smith’s selection was what most expected to see and we got two up top for a change in a defensive 532 or an optimistic 352.
As we started it seemed an optimistic 352 with Cash and Targett certainly pushing on, and it was a lively start from both, although it’s fair to say Chelsea looked more comfortable than we did but that was to be expected. We settled though and Chelsea definitely knew they were in a game, but almost out of nothing Tuanzebe gave Lukaku way too much space and we were punished with only 15 on the clock.
We kept pushing though, heads didn’t drop and Watkins almost had us back on level terms but saw his effort well saved, and we certainly weren’t out of it. In fact, the best chances were coming our way and for want of a better decision, just hitting the ball or a slice of luck, we could’ve been in front by the 25th minute. To be honest, Watkins should’ve had an eye on a hattrick as we moved towards the half time break.
Ramsey was our clear standout but that’s not to do anyone else down, that was a proper showing and Chelsea will have wondered how they went into the break ahead, as they should’ve been at least 3-0 down.
With a competent referee the first half may well have been a lot different.
Whatever had clicked within the team (even allowing for the obvious lack of understanding with the new system), we could only hope it continued as we were an entirely different proposition.
And we started the second half on top again and then totally shot ourselves in the foot as Zebe and Mings messed around and Steer wasn’t sharp enough off his line – 2-0 it was.
The game was more balanced at this point but we were far from out of it. We got another glimpse of what Bailey could do as he totally embarrassed Alonso. We even saw the ref finally book a Chelsea player which was nice, but with 25 minutes remaining on the clock you just couldn’t shake the fact that with better finishing and less dopey defending, this really should’ve been a comfortable victory.
3-0 in the end.
Much improved spirit, determination, bite and this formation has to be stuck with as it gives us options and it’s worth letting the players get used to it properly. Plenty of positives and lots to work on despite the massive frustration.
This is the way forward though and it has to be built on.
Chelsea get MotM today – Stuart Attwell take a bow, you can be proud.