This seems to be an ongoing theme this season...Chelsea were the better team for the majority of this one but their opponents were brutally efficient in punishing them for several glaring individual errors. Villa set up in what's been a very typical opposition formation today, going with a lone striker and packing bodies into the box. Chelsea dominated possession early on and jumped on top when Didier Drogba and Ramires combined on some nice interplay which resulted in Drogba being fouled in the box. While the ensuing penalty wasn't Drogba's best effort, it still found the back of the net to put Chelsea up a goal.
The lead would be short lived though as Paulo Ferreira did his best impersonation of a matador in allowing Charles N'Zogbia to waltz by him setting up the Stephen Ireland equalizer. Chelsea would continue to be the better team throughout the remainder of the first half but struggled to create much in the way of chances. The clear lack of a creative presence in the central midfield can be masked with excellent crossing from the wings, but neither of our fullbacks looked particularly dangerous today.
The second half came and it was more of the same early on. Chelsea controlled possession but failed to create much in the way of real chances. Villa would occasionally counter but Petr Cech looked up to the task today. Then in the 83rd minute Villa took a foray into the Chelsea end and another individual error struck. Stilan Petrov decided to make a not so dangerous run between the center backs, but when John Terry decided to let him go and David Luiz decided to move away from him he was left with acres of empty space to run into. The ensuing goal didn't take much skill to finish as the defense left Cech woefully exposed.
We weren't done gifting Villa goals yet though. Frank Lampard clearly felt left out of this one, so he played a simple little pass to Stephen Ireland to leave Petr Cech to face two attackers alone. Ireland slid the ball to Bent who fired away. The ball found the back of the net again despite Petr Cech gettting a leg on it, and 3-1 it would finish.
Congratulations are in order for Didier Drogba who reached his milestone 150th goal today, but that's about the only positive that we can really take from this one. This is the third time in the last four games where our lack of a catalyst to break down clubs parking the bus has been obvious. Luckily for us we're at a point in the season where that can be addressed, and this disappointing run of results could certainly have come at a worse time than the last four games prior to the opening of the window. We're clearly going to continue to struggle against these types of tactics this season if we don't find a more lethal passer to play against these types of clubs, and it will be interesting to see how we approach the window now. I'm not happy with the loss at all, but I'll be ok with it if it causes us to go out and buy that compliment to Mata that we so clearly need. No MotM poll for this one...