Soccer

Chelsea vs Aston Villa result: Five things we learned as both teams miss chance to go fourth


Chelsea were held at home by Aston Villa in the Premier League on Monday evening.

The home side had the better of a fairly dour first half and were rewarded for some enterprising wing play when Olivier Giroud headed in the opener.

Villa came out in the second half with a more adventurous style and quickly found an equaliser, Anwar El Ghazi finishing smartly following Matty Cash’s cross.

READ MORE: Premier League fixtures and table – all matches by date and kick-off time

There were chances for both teams to take the points as John McGinn smacked the crossbar from range and Callum Hudson-Odoi seeing a shot saved, but the eventual 1-1 scoreline leaves both sides tied on points with Spurs, Man City and each other.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Rotation results

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Chelsea opted for rotation in this game – no doubt a consequence of both a poor result last time out and the short time between fixtures.

It’s fair to say there were winners and losers from the home side’s altered line-up; Callum Hudson-Odoi played well and was hugely involved in his team’s best moments in the first half, while of course Giroud netted another goal after being reinstated in attack.

At the back it was a different story though, with neither Antonio Rudiger nor Andreas Christensen really making a compelling case to replace Kurt Zouma on a more regular basis.

Likewise, dropping and then utilising Kai Havertz and Timo Werner off the bench didn’t really produce a big response which Frank Lampard would have hoped for.

Villa away form

Heading into the match, Aston Villa had won five and lost just one of their six away games in the league this season.

That form on the road has contributed greatly to them being just outside European spots, but they were unable to quite produce enough to take a big three points here.

On the flip-side, Villa had not won a point this term when trailing in a game at any point – so coming from behind to take a draw is a positive step for Dean Smith’s side.

Call on Giroud

The big French forward loves playing Villa.

His goal was a tremendous one, a really well-taken header which required him to stoop low and direct his effort into the bottom corner – and it continued his fine run against the Villans.

Giroud now has scored in his last seven against the Villa Park club and nine in total against them.

Meanwhile, despite lots of rotation in the centre-forward position for Chelsea, Giroud is now the club’s top scorer for the season with nine in all competitions – averaging a quite incredible goal every 66 minutes on the pitch.

Watkins’ wait

While Giroud seems to celebrate every time he gets on the pitch, Ollie Watkins is in a rather different run of form.

He’s hard-working, involved in build-up play, runs the channels and links nicely with the runners from deep, but the goals have dried up for Villa’s first-choice striker.

It’s now seven league games without one for the former Brentford man, and while there’s no suggestion the manager is displeased with his performances or he’s in danger of being dropped, a tap-in or two would no doubt be extremely welcome right now.

Watkins has had 22 shots in that time, including a massive nine in his last game against Palace, so perhaps the old adage of ‘getting into the right positions’ is ringing true despite a lack of a clinical touch.

Top-four chase in a cluster

Either one of these would have moved into fourth place with a victory, given Man City’s game against Everton later in the evening has been postponed.

A draw might feel a missed opportunity for both, then, but it also still keeps them both firmly in the mix where teams all around them continue to drop points of their own.

Just one point separates fourth-placed Manchester United from eighth-placed Man City now, with Villa and Chelsea both leapfrogging City on goal difference this evening.

Add in Southampton just one point further back – and Everton and Leicester just two points ahead of United – and there remains an almighty scramble for European spots this season… and maybe the enticement for at least one team to achieve far more than would usually be thought possible.

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