Chelsea picked up a much-needed win and cleansheet earlier today when they beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Stamford Bridge with a goal from Diego Costa and an own goal by Alan Hutton.
The big news in the Chelsea lineup was that Eden Hazard had been dropped to the bench and Ruben Loftus-Cheek got to start.
Loftus-Cheek only lasted 45 minutes, getting substituted at halftime and replaced by Nemanja Matic, still he put in a good 45 minutes, looked lively, and made a couple of good runs and passes. Hazard meanwhile replaced Pedro with less than 10 minutes to go.
Aston Villa started the game brightly and it looked like Tim Sherwood’s positive approach might pay off as Villa got forward, created chances, and caused problems for the Chelsea defence. It looks like Chelsea have lost that aura and fear factor about them and teams are no longer afraid to play them or go to Stamford Bridge which Villa highlighted perfectly with how they started the game.
Sadly all that good work by Villa was undone in the 34th minute thanks to goalkeeper Brad Guzan who played a wayward pass to Joleon Lescott who failed to bring it under control which allowed Willian to run in and pick up the ball. Willian then carried the ball into the area before squaring it to Diego Costa for a simple tap-in.
It was such a cheap goal to give a way but credit should be given to Willian for being ready to pounce on the mistake.
Chelsea were better in the second half and looked to take control of the game and you have to wonder how much of that was down to the change of Loftus-Cheek for Matic. Loftus-Cheek was getting forward-looking to create chances and get into the box which left gaps in midfield while Matic remained largely in midfield when he came on and screened the defence better, as a result Villa created few chances in the second half.
Once Chelsea doubled their lead less than 10 minutes in the second half they never looked like losing and seemed to just grow in confidence.
Cesc Fabregas played a lovely ball forward to Costa who brought it down but looked like he was trapped with nowhere to go took a shot that deflected off Alan Hutton and past Guzan. It was another poor goal for Villa to concede, Costa should not have been allowed to get a shot off from where he was.
With a 2-0 lead Chelsea really grew in confidence and began to look a little like the team that won the Premier League title last season. They restricted the number of chances Villa created and seemed to just create half chance after half chance for themselves and kept the pressure up.
Costa was lively all afternoon and was getting involved in everything, he looked a lot fitter as he chased down balls. Willian too as very impressive and looked to create a lot although he squandered a free-kick by squaring it to Kurt Zouma instead of going for goal. And Ramires had a very good game as well even if he was lucky to avoid getting booked for some of the challenges he made.
However Baba Rahman looked cagey in the first half but that can be forgiven on his first Premier League appearance although he did look a lot more comfortable and settled in the second half.
The key now for Chelsea will be building on this win mid-week in the UEFA Champions League against Dynamo Kiev before they face West Ham next weekend.
There will now be big questions asked about Sherwood’s future as Villa boss whose only win came on the opening weekend since when they’ve only picked up a point.