Chelsea let more points slip against a struggling team, coming from behind against Aston Villa but then allowing Gerard Houllier's team a share of the spoils thanks to an injury time goal by Ciaran Clark. I'll be honest - I didn't wake up for the game and instead caught a replay at a pub, which isn't exactly conducive to a good game recap or analysis. Instead, general thoughts:
The game was littered with bookings but a few players went unpunished. Ciaran Clark should have been sent off after making two yellow-card tackles in less than five seconds, and Michael Essien pulled some sort of weird rugby tackle move on an unsuspecting Ashley Young and emerged without seeing a card somehow. I think the ref had booked 80% of Villa's team by halftime so it wasn't as though he was afraid of reaching for his pocket, so I don't know why some tackles were going unpunished and some were being clamped down on. Affected both teams, of course, but it wasn't good officiating.
Chelsea's attack did fairly well, I thought. I missed most of the first half but the second should have seen more than the two Chelsea goals - there were excellent attacks by Ramires, Frank Lampard, Florent Malouda, and Salomon Kalou as well as the Didier Drogba and John Terry goals. Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel was in excellent form though, and pulled off some rather astonishing saves. It's hard to say we were undone by bad luck after scoring three times, but I think that Friedel's form paid a huge role in not winning by, say, eighteen.
Meanwhile on the other end Chelsea's defence could be charitably described as lackadaisical. Debutant Jeffrey Bruma was absolutely mauled by Emile Heskey for Villa's second goal, Paulo Ferreira was at least as responsibly for the penalty as Michael Essien, and I don't even know how to explain the second goal other than a very specific warp in space-time that froze every blue shirt in the box as soon as Marc Albrighton crossed the ball. Totally unacceptable unless something supernatural happened (Villa scoring thrice may be considered a supernatural achievement, actually).
Anyway, I think the league is done. It was a great start to the season and I don't think we played badly, but at some points results matter and we've wasted too many games. If we can claw our way back, great, but it's time to think about simply maintaining top-four status and hitting the Champions League with all we've got. Depressing, but that's what I took away from yesterday's match - which despite the rather disastrous result was pretty enjoyable throughout.