If the last 100 days made us forget about Chelsea football, the team did a fantastic job reminding us of the major issues throughout the season: inefficiency in front of goal, too slow and too predictable too often in passing, lapses of concentration in defense and set pieces. All the possession, none of the goals.
After half-chances for Mason Mount, César Azpilicueta, and a couple nice low crosses from Willian, Villa grabbed an opportunistic goal against the run of play just a couple minutes before half-time. Kovačić nearly equalized just before the break, but his sweet volley missed by inches.
The second half began much the same way as the first half ended, but then Lampard made some changes and the game changed for the better as well. Pulisic and Barkley made almost immediate impact, as Chelsea scored two goals in two minutes just past the hour mark to take the lead.
Chelsea’s defensive lapses almost gifted Villa a late equalizer, but we survived in the end.
- Chelsea start in a 4-3-3, with RLC as the nominal third midfielder. A more defined 4-2-3-1 after the first set of changes, with Barkley and Kanté sitting deep and Pulisic going wide left.
- Like-for-like in Abraham (for Giroud) and a late defensive sub in Reece James for Willian completed the changes. Would really like to see us take better advantage of the 5-sub rule, of being able to use more fresh legs more often. We’ve got the quality!
- Two assists for Azpilicueta! A goal each for Pulisic and Giroud.
- Chelsea open up a five-point advantage over fifth-place Manchester United. Only three behind Leicester City in third now.
- Next up: Manchester City at the Bridge on Thursday, before the FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday. Busy!