Chelsea held the ball for the first five minutes, but did nothing with it. Villa were more than happy to sit back, compact and watch us pass it around in midfield, not making any meaningful progress while waiting for opportunities on counters and set pieces.
And it was indeed from one of those that they took the lead against the run of play ... only for VAR to (correctly) rule out Douglas Luiz’s goal for handball. Thank you, VAR!
That bit of fortune seemed to galvanize our creativity, and we started to turn possession into actual goal-threat. Unfortunately, we continued our maddening habit of being extremely wasteful.
Cole Palmer failed to convert yet another gift in the opposition penalty area (making yet another interception with amazing anticipation), while Noni Madueke, Raheem Sterling, and Benoit Badiashile all wasted more than presentable chances. Villa barely had a kick of the ball, but we headed into halftime scoreless.
The second half was more of the same at first, but Villa started to make more of a game of it. And after Palmer missed another glorious gift in the final third, Chelsea seemed to suddenly run out of steam. Villa had come in on two weeks rest, we had two days — and that certainly showed in the final 15-20 minutes.
But we managed to hang on, with Petrovic called into action for a massive save in the 74th minute to keep things level, while McGinn missed the goal for Villa by inches late on.
To the replay we go.
- Three changes from Tuesday, with Chilwell, Mudryk, and Broja dropping out (Chilwell due to fitness, the other two tactical). Colwill’s injury in warm-ups then forcing another change, moving Badiashile to left back and Gilchrist coming it at right back.
- Chilwell on for the final 25; Broja & Mudryk on for the final 15. Chukwuemeka a few token minutes at the end.
- A whole lot of effort, for a whole lot of not much.
- Next up: Liverpool away at Anfield on Wednesday