Villa Park hasn’t been the fondest hunting ground for Chelsea over the years but yesterday that was all changed. The blues won the game 4-2 after seeing their initial two goal lead pegged back. Goals from Sturridge, Torres and a brace from Ivanovic were enough to ensure victory. Pre-game, both sets of fans showed their support for Aston Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov. The Bulgarian midfielder was diagnosed with Leukaemia and thoughts are with him.
Chelsea threatened early on after a very bright start. David Luiz, played in Fernando Torres but the striker was denied by Given. It wasn’t long after that the deadlock was broken. Lampard’s ball into the box was flicked on by Mata into the path of Torres, his shot blocked by Stephen Warnock fell kindly to Daniel Sturridge to tap into an empty net, who scored his first goal this calendar year. It was almost 2-0 when Torres played Mata in this time, only for Chelsea’s number 10 to see his chip over the keeper hit the post and Torres’ rebounded attempt again get blocked, this time by James Collins. Petr Cech was on hand to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor a goal, brilliantly saving the striker’s attempt with his foot as the ball hit the bar and went out.
Second half and Chelsea doubled their lead when Mata’s corner was prodded home by Branislav Ivanovic, the right back finding a rich vain of form in front of goal. Aston Villa were handed a life line when James Collins headed in a throw in and it only took a matter of minutes for Villa to equalise through Licht, as Albrighton beat Ivanovic down the right hand side and his cross was met by Villa’s right back.
You wouldn’t blame Chelsea fans for fearing the worst when the scores were levelled, even the introduction of Emile Heskey was being feared by some. However they shouldn’t have had any worries as another corner, this time taken by Florent Malouda was again knocked in by Ivanovic. Victory was ensured on the counter in the dying minutes as two rare events coincided to give Chelsea their fourth goal. Daniel Sturridge opted to pass the ball into Torres as opposed to shooting himself and the Spaniard found the back of the net with a brilliant finish as opposed to missing the target.
A few notes from the game:
Fernando Torres was again looking more and more like the player who £50million was shed out for. He isn’t quite there still and will need more performances like that on a consistent basis to warrant his price tag yet but it is an improvement. The striker has 5 assists and 3 goals in his last four games for the club.
Branislav Ivanovic must wonder what he must do to get a sending off like Torres, the right back scored the winner against Napoli and scored two yesterday and now has 3 goals in his last 3 games, only to see Torres receive the fans praise at the end of the game. Mind you, it was justified.
Mikel’s control in the midfield and dictation of tempo was superb yesterday. Defensively he keeps the team in shape and has really improved that side of his game. What impressed me most about his performance yesterday was his composure when he was being pressed, which has usually been his undoing in the past. A man of the match performance in my eyes.
Juan Mata saw a greater influence in yesterday’s game than that of which he has had in previous matches. The team were able to give Mata the ball as he constantly found holes in the Aston Villa defence and was unlucky not to find himself on the score sheet.
Anyone spot Jacob Mellis in the away end? Villa fans suffering from small club syndrome as they let off a smoke grenade when…equalising. Terrific stuff ladies and gentleman. The away support was as usual great, pandemonium in the stands when Torres scored was a brilliant sight.
An injury note, David Luiz was subbed just before half time and the Brazilian centre back is suffering with ankle ligament problems and is doubtful for the midweek game against Benfica.
Finally, the win was a vital one in Chelsea’s attempt to finish in the Champions League places and the players showed great fight to win the game after losing their lead in the first place.