Aston Villa showed his best performance of the season when he shot himself in the foot. Twice …
Aston Villa lost on the road for the second time this season and again conceded three goals. But Dean Smith will have far more courage from this defeat than the gloomy opening day in Watford.
A 3-2 result flattered Villa on Vicarage Road, they were so bad, especially in the first hour. at Chelsea, The narrow defeat doesn’t reflect Villa’s contribution to a highly competitive game, but it does underscore the work that Smith has ahead of him to get the most out of the exciting squad at his disposal.
His most urgent task: curb the Villans’ appetite for self-destruction.
The European champions won’t need many helping hands at Stamford Bridge this season, but Villa offered hers far too willingly. Early goals in each half were totally avoidable, with two of Smith’s three center-backs being responsible for Chelsea’s advantage.
Axel Tuanzebe will flinch when Smith shows his players the video of Romelu Lukaku’s prelude. Returning from Manchester United on another loan, Tuanzebe made a number of mistakes before watching his former team-mate score the goal.
First, he allowed Lukaku a free run at Mateo Kovacic’s pass on the mistaken assumption that Jed Steer was sweeping behind Villa’s high line. No matter who was in the Villa goal, it was never the goalkeeper’s ball. Then Tuanzebe lunged in a desperate attempt to correct his mistake to fend off a shot that never came. Instead, Lukaku cut inward with ease and set the Villa defender down for a perfect look at a clinical right-footed finish.
When Villa made it too easy for Lukaku’s first gate at Stamford Bridge, Tyrone Mings wrapped Kovacic’s as a gift.
Mings’s mistake – an annoying habit of the English defender – was as complex as Tuanzebe’s. First, to prevent Lukaku from getting Callum Hudson-Odoi’s throw-in, he let the Chelsea striker run behind him. Tuanzebe offered some cover before offering the ball to Mings. But the central defender’s posture was hopelessly wrong. When trying to move him and belatedly to search his surroundings, he let the ball run over his body in the direction of Kovacic. Mings stretched, undercutting his back pass, and allowed the Chelsea midfielder an easy finish on the again exposed bull.
Lukaku’s second goal, Chelsea’s third, was also avoidable. But by then the game was over. Villa would have regained parity between the hosts’ first and second goals.
Chelsea (1.35) 3-0 (1.37) Aston Villa
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Ollie Watkins was contested by Edouard Mendy and then Thiago Silva, while the Chelsea keeper also kept Mings and Ezri Konsa away. In the first half, Mendy was arguably the best player in the blues.
Was so concerned Thomas Tuchel over what was happening before him, Chelsea manager Saul Niguez grabbed half of his blues debut so Jorginho could restore order before the hosts defense. But the villa opportunities came anyway.
They tried more shots than Chelsea – 18-12 – and managed two more shots than the Blues four. In no game this season have Villa created more scoring chances than in the backyard of the European champions, and only five times in all of last season. But where Villa was lavish, Chelsea was ruthless.
Despite the mistakes, this was Villa’s best performance of the young season. Smith will expect his new line of strikers to tighten at Villa Park, but defense remains an issue. All four of their games were individually and as a unit riddled with errors. Only when they stop shooting themselves in the foot can Villa develop their apparent potential.