GOAL! Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 0 (Giroud 33)
Ah that is brilliant from Giroud, the movement could be taught in schools. Pulisic in the ten hole, vision to send it on out to Chilwell on the outside left, he crosses and Giroud just holds and times his position to be the right extravagantly bearded man in the right place at the right time and shows lovely athleticism to dip and dive for the header. Nice play, nice finish.
He has scored ten in ten against Villa! He’s a destroyer.
29 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Chance for Aston Villa – El Ghazi centres and Mendy has made a mess of this. Cash could and maybe should have tucked that away.
26 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Kante fouls McGinn
Excellent freekick in from Villa… Hause rises above all rivals and maybe, having leapt so majestically to get there, might have wished to do better with the header.
22 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Kante chips it into the box. Oop, the physio is in the game here. He plays it into the box for Pulisic, chest high. Pulisic, as is his right, goes for it with an overhead kick and has crunched Cash. The sort of injury that, thank god, we take more seriously these days but they still basically give him the once over and he’s back on.
20 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Better qualified people than me I know have discussed this, but I don’t see why you want Kante and Jorginho in the same midfield three. They are not the same player but they are both basically sitters. Kante a busy sitter, I know. But he’s a battling DM 6, and Jorginho is a poor man’s Busquets.
18 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Grealish with a lovely mazy dribble down the inside left channel, cuts the ball back and that’s bad luck that nobody gets onto it. Yet another corner.
15 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Mount cuts it back, Pulisic is arriving hot and heavy…. BRILLIANT diving block from McGinn stops the shot. Another corner. Good, busy, open game so far.
Chelsea players have responded to Lampard. They are hunting down everything.
13 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Fourth corner of the match and Villa’s second. Grealish. Curler. Straight down the pipe of Mendy.
11 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Big chance for Chelsea! Grealish has given the ball away, terrible bit of play from him,. Running back towards his own goal, he plays a blind pass straight into the centre of the pitch! He could not have picked out Pulisic better had he tried! The Chelsea man races clear and smashes it into the side netting. He should have done better.
9 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Training ground corner from Villa, Grealish to Anwar El Ghazi in the Teddy Sherringham role, peeling off and hitting the ground ball about 15 yards from the first post. No joy on this occasion, but well worked.
5 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Grealish fouled and gives Stuart Attwell a volley for not giving him a freekick. Pulisic gets a similar experience from the ref.
No complaints from me if he wants to let the play run. Jim Beglin: “Grealish is a fabulous footballer but he does not always to stay on his feet.”
Another corner, Rudiger manages to get a toe on it and Martinez stops it.
4 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Hudson-O with a nice diagonal for Chilwell, but good covering from the Villa attackers as they track back to help their colleagues. Corner for Chelsea, delivered in by Mount.
1 mins: Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0
Villa in white shirts, but it is Chelsea in their blue who are attacking as we start, down the right.
No such worry between the sticks
for Villa. Martinez proving to be one of the steals of the year.
Mendy in nets
for Chelsea, he owes his manager a performance.
The one concern I guess for Villa would be the form of Watkins up front, he could do with a goal. Smith says he’s happy with the lad “and you won’t find any of our players moaning about him”.
Super John McGinn takes his place behind Grealish. What a player that boy is.
He looks relaxed, up for it. Lovely player. Be good to see him have a proper game.
“My players have all looked in me in the eye and told me they are ready and up for it. I have yet to see a player carried off the pitch with exhaustion! So we are ready.”
They shoot wing-backs, don’t they? I’d pay to see Dean’s Exhaustoball.
Graeme Le Socks
is doing punditry with Andy Townsend. Retro. Two very good chaps.
“Frank came here with his eyes wide open, he knows what is expected at Chelsea,” says Le Saux.
“We haven’t had time to train. Changes were going to come irrespective. I expect a reaction on the pitch.
“I’ve got competition with Tammy and Ollie, they both bring different things on the pitch. Ollie brings his goalscoring and his personality in the pitch.
“Villa really difficult, defensively sound. But this is Stamford Bridge if we get our level and our intensity right then we should be alright.”
Players are out on the pitch
Crisp evening in West London.
Darrell Currie is doing the Amazon Prime coverage of this, and he’s now thrown it to Gabby Logan who is the woman at Goodison.
She relays the news about the cancelled Man City match earlier. It’s as reported by Chris here.
City;s next game is against… Chelsea, on January 3.
Lampard looked blinking annoyed
with his players after the Arsenal match, and he has wielded the axe. Six changes:
Ben Chilwell is the only survivor of the back four from Chelsea’s 3-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen all into the rearguard.
Jorginho replaces Mateo Kovacic in midfield. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Olivier Giroud start up yop.
Timo Werner, goal-less in 10, gets the Spanish archer.
Villa, who only played about 49 hours ago, make just the one change and that one forced: sure sign of a side in form and flow. Ezri Konsa steps in for the suspended Tyrone Mings.
If more news emerges
about the City postponement, we will keep an eye on that, hope all the players and staff etc are not too poorly.
In the meantime, let’s zero in on the Chelsea match, an opportunity for Frank Lampard to shut up some critics, and an opportunity for Villa to continue their good run, especially away from home.
Teams for Chelsea vs Villa
Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Chilwell, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Pulisic, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi. Subs: Arrizabalaga, Thiago Silva, Abraham, Werner, Tomori, Kovacic, Gilmour, Havertz, Emerson Palmieri.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi, Watkins. Subs: Heaton, Taylor, Hourihane, Nakamba, Engels, Guilbert, Elmohamady, Davis, Ramsey.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)
Wow – the Everton and Man City game later
While we await the team news
A little bit of something from the news wires about a great Chelsea player of recent vintage.
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa missed training on Monday because he is considering his future with the La Liga leaders, a club source said.
Costa, who helped Atletico win their last La Liga title in 2014, has struggled to make an impact since returning to the club from Chelsea in 2018. The 32-year-old has six months left on his contract.
The Spain international’s second spell with Atletico has been repeatedly disrupted by injuries and he has recently returned from a spell out due to deep-vein thrombosis.
Welcome to our live blog of Chelsea vs Aston Villa, we will have all the team news for you at 4.30pm UK time and the kick off, shown on Amazon Prime, is at 5.30pm.
There have been few more popular and admired players in my lifetime of covering football than Frank Lampard, the sort of player who even if he was playing for your rivals, always seemed like a pretty decent bloke and certainly made a wonderful career for himself. I’ve noticed that football journos of my vintage (44) and a bit older really seem to like the guy and want him to do well; he’s probably had a pretty easy ride from the media so far, and obviously he has massive credit in the bank with Chelsea supporters.
This, as football folk often like to say, is a results business and neither Roman Abramovich or the Chelsea support will be too hamstrung by sentiment unless he starts to deliver a winning team soon. It might not be at crisis point yet but the Boxing Day defeat against Arsenal, and also the way that he didn’t really defend his players after it, look like clear warning signs. Chelsea sit on 25 points from 15 matches, with three defeats in the last five, and if it begins to look by say the end of February that they are not going to get in the Champions League spots… well, Roman has a problem. And if he has a problem, Lampard has a problem. I’m not saying this is a good state of affairs or a just one, but I think it is the reality.
Lampard has demanded a reaction from his players in the wake of that 3-1 defeat by Arsenal. he said that his guys “lacked energy and desire” after that. They face a tough assignment in that aim this afternoon, in the shape of ston Villa.
Up in the Midlands, Villa boss Dean Smith and his guys seem to be in a good moment.
“These are exciting times. We have been playing well these last five games and we are really pleased with the performance levels from the players.
“Whether it is Chelsea, Southampton, Brighton or West Brom we are playing, we don’t mind. We are just enjoying our football and we will continue to do that. A lot of hard work has gone into it.
“Tactically now they are really clued in and there is a growing maturity in what I believe is the youngest team in the league in terms of average age. It bodes well.”
Villa have ten points from the last 12 game, and only two conceded on the road this season, a young and hungry Aston Villa side (with a Chelsea legend in the dug out!) are exactly the sort of prospect that Lampard could do without. We will see the XI he names to meet them soon…