Watkins strike beats 10-player Chelsea as Blues’ poor start continues

Watkins strike beats 10-player Chelsea as Blues’ poor start continues

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.

How Chelsea were beaten against at Stamford Bridge

Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins makes it 1-0

Ollie Watkins has now been directly involved in 20 goals in 30 Premier League appearances under Unai Emery for Aston Villa

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.

Team news headlines

  • Chelsea made one change to the team that drew at Bournemouth last weekend. Moises Caicedo returned from injury to replace Lesley Ugochukwu. Armando Broja was also back in XI for the first time since December.
  • Aston Villa have reverted back to the same Premier League XI that beat Crystal Palace. It means it is another five changes from the midweek Europa Conference League match at Legia Warsaw.

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's Malo Gusto looks dejected after being sent off by referee Jarred Gillett

Chelsea’s Malo Gusto was sent off after a challenge on Lucas Digne

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.

Player ratings

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.

Chelsea’s absentee list

Player Reason
Noni Madueke Muscle
Carney Chukwuemeka Knee
Reece James Hamstring
Christopher Nkunku Knee
Trevoh Chalobah Hamtring
Wesley Fofana ACL
Romeo Lavia Ankle
Benoit Badiashile Hamstring
Marcus Bettinelli Knee
Malo Gusto Three game suspension
Nicholas Jackson 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.

What’s next?

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.

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