Chelsea haven't exactly been playing the best competition of late, but they continued their recent run of excellent form today when Aston Villa came to visit Stamford Bridge. Luckily the hosts felt like giving their fans plenty to celebrate on Sunday, treating them to some of the best looking football we've seen out of Chelsea in quite some time.
Rafa Benitez made headlines before the game kicked off, giving David Luiz his second start in a midfield role this season. Regardless of anything else that happened today, we were going to have plenty to talk about as we broke down his pivot performance. Also of note in the lineup today, Frank Lampard made his 500th start in the Premier League. Congratulations Frank, you'll always be a legend at Chelsea.
Fernando Torres was apparently feeling left out, with all of the pre-match talk focusing on our midfield pivot duo. He responded with several very nice runs as soon as the game got underway, earning Chelsea a dangerous free kick less than a minute into the game. Several minutes later, he'd finish one of those runs with one of the better headers I've ever seen him take. Just three minutes into the game, it was 1-0 Chelsea.
Chelsea kept the pressure on, winning corners and making Brad Guzan work with shots from the edge of the box. Fernando Torres continued his generally solid play with a run that should have resulted in a penalty, as Nathan Baker basically hugged him from behind and climbed over the top of him to prevent a headed attempt from six yards out.
Phil Dowd would find his whistle again in the 29th minute, giving Chelsea a free kick after Eden Hazard was hacked down just outside the box. A trio of Blues were interested in it, with Juan Mata, Frank Lampard, and David Luiz all standing over the top of the ball. Luiz would be the one to take it, and it resulted in a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, it was 3-0 Chelsea. Gary Cahill did a nice job bringing down a Juan Mata corner, and managed to fire a shot through traffic that Brad Guzan did well to get a hand on. Unfortunately for Guzan, he pushed it right to the unmarked head of Branislav Ivanovic, and the Serbian international made no mistake. The game went to halftime with the Blues leading by three, and generally making their fans feel good about the showing.
The second half kicked off with no personnel changes for Chelsea, and their was no real change in their approach either. Juan Mata forced a fantastic save just minutes after kickoff, and Frank Lampard made Guzan deal with a long volley from a corner. Lampard would end up finding the net just before the hour mark, celebrating his 500th appearance with the club's fourth goal. He'd come off moments later for Ramires to an absolutely fantastic ovation from the home support.
Chelsea were well in control of things, and brought on another pair of Brazilians as they continued to make Guzan work. Oscar came on for Fernando Torres, with Victor Moses moving into the center of the attack. Lucas Piazon then made his Premier League debut, as Juan Mata made way for the 18-year old.
Piazon would make his mark almost immediately, laying a perfect ball to the feet of Ramires. Ramires had a great look at the goal, and fired the ball through the legs of Guzan to make it 5-0 Chelsea. Within three minutes, Oscar was blasting in a penalty that he earned when Chris Herd took him down in the box. 6-0 Chelsea, and all three substitutes had already registered either an assist or a goal.
Eden Hazard must have been feeling left out, as he was yet register a goal or an assist despite creating absolute havoc all day. He'd take care of that by toying with the VIlla defense a bit before blasting the ball into the corner of the net. It was now 7-0, and there would still be more to come.
Lucas Piazon drew a penalty, and was allowed to step to the spot and look for his first Premier League goal. Unfortunately for the young Brazilian, Brad Guzan would make a solid save to keep the lead at just seven. He allowed his first soft one shortly afterwards though, when Oscar picked out Ramires who slotted it over the American to close the scoring at eight.
With the win, Chelsea have jumped back up to third on the table and given their goal differential a massive boost in the process. They also played far more directly than they have for most of this season, repeatedly creating a chance before Villa had time to get organized. As good as 8-0 looks, without Brad Guzan having a good day things could have looked an awful lot worse. Well done Chelsea,now keep it up against Norwich.