The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW30): Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Olivier Giroud was a big surprise in the Chelsea XI as the Blues play their first game in the Project Restart. Aston Villa were lucky to come away with a point in the 0-0 draw with Sheffield United earlier in the Gameweek, and Nyland retains his place in goal even after the blunder that should have been a goal for the Blades. Willian also starts for Chelsea with only nine days remaining on his contract.
The majority of the first half was an attack versus defence drill with Chelsea overloading their right-hand side with endless crosses to the back post that none of the Blues players picked up on. Chelsea’s best chance was from Mount who hit a powerful shot that was saved well by Nyland. The Villa goalkeeper was a tad shaky, which didn’t inspire confidence in the Villa defence, and the warning signs began to arise for Chelsea when El Ghazi forced a save from Kepa from long range. Against the run of play, Kepa made another save which fell to Kortney Hause who poked in the rebound to give the Villains a surprise lead into half time. Chelsea didn’t capitalise on their possession and were made to pay by allowing Villa to overflow in their box.
Going into the second half the first fifteen minutes was more of the same from Chelsea, but this time they brought on Pulisic, and he was finally one to see that the ball was going to the back post, and the American slotted away an equaliser. Pulisic was also the driving force only a few moments later which led to Giroud holding the ball up and getting fortunate with deflection to put Chelsea ahead. Pulisic’s arrival meant that Chelsea’s attack stream had a cutting edge.
The remainder of the game a gritty, competitive affair, which had three big moments of quality that decided the game.
Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic (CHE)
The American was only on the pitch for eight minutes before Chelsea were leading the match. Like many players this season, Pulisic has injected quality into his respective team. Chelsea needed someone to pick up on their routine attacks and provide some mobility to help break the lines of the Villa defence. Pulisic was involved in both goals scored and was the difference for Chelsea to get them over the line in this fixture. Frank Lampard will once again be reviewing his team selection for the next game in a busy period for the Blues.
AVL 1-2 CHE - Insight and Analysis:
This was a game with huge impact at either end of the table, and whilst the first half dulled my soul, the Hause goal awakened my interest in the game. Chelsea had so many crosses into the box and without anyone taking interest in them, which is why I can see why Lampard wants to add a natural finisher such as Werner to his ranks for next season. Villa had a real chance in this game to do themselves a favour ahead of a tight relegation race, but in the end, Chelsea deserved the result after harassing Villa for most of the match. The only thing that is certain is that Lampard still doesn’t know his best eleven, which is a priority to figure out for the rest of the season.
Ramifications for the relegation battle/top four race:
Aston Villa had the chance to get out of the relegation zone in this fixture to make a bad weekend even worse for West Ham. Chelsea’s win takes the pressure off themselves as the chasing pack were getting ever so closer. Villa were second best this game and getting their natural goal scorers into form is the priority. The Midlands club is the best positioned to mount a real challenge to escape the drop. West Ham will be relieved that their fellow London club did them a massive favour today.
Venue: Villa Park
Manager: Dean Smith
GK: O. Nyland
DEF: E. Konsa
DEF: K. Hause
DEF: T. Mings
DEF: M. Targett
MID: J. McGinn (Jota 87')
MID: D. Luiz
MID: C. Hourihane (Nakamba 70')
MID: M. El Ghazi (Trezeguet 70')
MID: J. Grealish
FOR: K. Davis (Samatta '57)
Reina, Taylor, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Borza, Samatta, Jota, El Mohamady, Vassilev
Manager: Frank Lampard
DEF: C. Azpilicueta
DEF: A. Rudiger
DEF: A. Christensen
DEF: M. Alonso
MID: M. Kovacic (Barkley 55')
MID: N. Kante
MID: R. Loftus-Cheek (Pulisic 55')
FOR: M. Mount
FOR: Willian (James 90')
FOR: O. Giroud (Abraham 80')
Caballero, James, Emerson, Zouma, Gilmour, Barkley, Pedro, Pulisic, Abraham
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