Match report and free highlights as Chelsea were again wasteful with their chances; Malo Gusto was sent off for a crunching challenge on Lucas Digne; Ollie Watkins finished from a tight angle to see Aston Villa win back-to-back league games against Chelsea for the first time in 30 years
Monday 25 September 2023 06:12, UK
Chelsea's poor start to the Premier League season continued as Ollie Watkins' fine strike saw Aston Villa to a 1-0 win against the 10-player Blues.
It is the first time Villa have beaten Chelsea in back-to-back league games in 30 years, while Mauricio Pochettino's side have made their worst start to a top-flight season after the opening six games since 1978/79.
But as has often been the case this season, Chelsea had their chances to score, with Emiliano Martinez making a string of fine saves, but were once again unable to find the net. They have now failed to score in their last three Premier League matches.
Aston Villa too had a raft of chances, but eventually made one count when Watkins (73) fired home from the tightest of angles after a fine break with Moussa Diaby.
It came 15 minutes after Malo Gusto was shown a straight red card. It was initially a yellow after a crunching challenge on Lucas Digne, but upgraded by referee Jarred Gillett after he consulted the pitchside monitor.
The result sees Chelsea languishing in 14th place with just five points this season. Aston Villa, meanwhile, showed no signs of fatigue from their midweek return to European football and move into sixth, just two points off the top four.
Chelsea began brightly at Stamford Bridge - where they have won just one of their last 10 Premier League games - with the returning Moises Caicedo unleashing a dangerous shot from range in the fifth minute, but it was ultimately some early catching practice for Martinez.
One of Aston Villa's best openings of the first half came 15 minutes later. A Douglas Luiz corner was cleared into Digne's path and he caught it with the sweetest of strikes, but Robert Sanchez made a fingertip save to keep him out.
And anything Sanchez could do, Martinez could pull out at the other end. It was a fine pass from Mykhailo Mudryk that found the run of Nicolas Jackson. As Martinez came out to meet him, the forward tried to chip past the World Cup winner, but the goalkeeper made a fine stop at the near post.
And the chances for both sides kept on coming. Enzo Fernandez lifted over from 12 yards, before a Nicolo Zaniolo header from a corner was tipped over the crossbar superbly by Sanchez, who once again showed off his quickfire reactions.
Chelsea thought they had scored just before the break, but Axel Disasi was a yard offside as he nodded home. The reaction was muted with the offside flag already up.
Chelsea: Sanchez (7), Gusto (6), Disasi (6), Silva (7), Colwill (7), Gallagher (6), Caicedo (7), Sterling (6), Fernandez (7), Mudryk (6), Jackson (6).
Subs: Chilwell (7), Ugochukwu (6), Palmer (6), Broja (6).
Aston Villa: Martinez (7), Cash (7), Konsa (7), Torres (6), Digne (7), Kamara (6), Luiz (7), McGinn (6), Diaby (7), Zaniolo (7), Watkins (6).
Subs: Bailey (7), Ramsey (7), Tielemans (6), Dendoncker (n/a), Duran (n/a).
Player of the match: Emiliano Martinez.
Chelsea went close again in quick succession early in the second half - but again missed their chances. Martinez was out again to keep out a Raheem Sterling effort, before Jackson nodded wide at the back post.
But the Blues were soon down to ten after Gusto lunged into a challenge on Digne, catching his fellow Frenchman on the ankle. He was initially shown a yellow card, but after a VAR review, it was changed to a red.
He will now miss Chelsea's next three domestic fixtures, while Jackson will miss next weekend's Premier League game against Fulham after picking up his fifth yellow card in only six league matches. It adds to Chelsea's already extensive injury list.
|Three game suspension
|One game suspension (PL only)
Aston Villa made their extra man count too as they scored a superb winning goal. Diaby picked up the ball on the halfway line and powered down the field, before passing to Watkins on his left. Levi Colwill blocked the initial effort, but Watkins made no mistake with the rebound, slotting home into the far corner from a tight angle.
As had been the case for much of the game, the chances kept flowing from both ends, but neither could score another. Ben Chilwell saw an effort saved, while Cole Palmer's effort was blocked by a last-ditch Aston Villa leg. Diaby and Jacob Ramsey were also denied by Sanchez at the other end as the Midlands side came away with all three points.
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino:
"We need to grow up like a team, not only in an individual way. A player like Nicolas [Jackson] is so young and is feeling [into] the Premier League and learning.
"He needs time, and in this type of game, we are competing and want to win. But the players, when they are young, need to learn with experience and make a mistake.
"That is why we feel disappointed because we are paying [for] too many situations like this. Things like this is another small detail and in the end, we are losing the game. We are in a situation we need to change as soon as possible."
On Gusto's red card, Pochettino said: "It was in front of me but I didn't see and I still didn't see [after the game]. I cannot say it wasn't a red card and then we need to trust referees and VAR. Then we cannot come back on the decision and it's difficult to challenge because I didn't see.
"It is the players' responsibility. We cannot blame the VAR or the referee. In this situation, we need to act different in a different way.
"I'm not going to blame or say anything against Malo Gusto because sometimes, some situations happen in football. This type of situation affected the game and the team in a negative way."
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery to Sky Sports:
"For us, it's very important in the beginning to try to keep being consistent in Premier League. We needed to be stronger than we were against Newcastle and Liverpool.
"Today was a tough match, but we competed very well. We tried to start at the beginning with control of the ball and being stronger defensively and we did it.
"They had some chances, we needed the goalkeeper, but at the end, we had our chances to score. When we had one player more, we tried in those moments being offensive to try to make the difference and we did.
"Then we kept the result, kept possession and tried to score a second goal. It's difficult to win here and through clean sheets, through a struggle sometimes and through the goalkeeper saving us.
"Those three points are very important for us to try to keep the balance in the Premier League and keep the balance after playing in the Europa Conference League.
"We are building the team, there is still work to do, but today was good to use different players. We need to add the players and build a stronger squad, then try to keep it going forward, working on the things we have to improve.
"It's always important for the striker to score. I am very happy because he [Watkins] is working with big behaviour, [the] commitment to his team-mates is amazing. If he's scoring, it's better for us and him."
Chelsea host Brighton in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday at 7.45pm before the Blues return to Premier League action on Monday Night Football with the West London derby at Fulham, kick off 8pm.
Aston Villa host Everton in the Carabao Cup third round on Wednesday at 7.45pm before Brighton are the visitors to Villa Park next Saturday at 12.30pm in the Premier League.