Aston Villa conceded two-goals in quick succession to make it two games without a win since football restarted as they lost 1-2 to Chelsea this afternoon.
During the summer many fans of opposition football clubs asked me how I thought Villa and Dean Smith would do in the Premier League this season. My response was that it would be a long hard season but I felt we had enough in the squad to survive. I also said that we would take some complete batterings due to Smith’s attacking tactics but I equally expected us to destroy a few times also. How wrong could I have been?
One comment on social media today got me thinking…
— Gary Swain (@gazswain) June 21, 2020
He has a point, doesn’t he? Yes, we were playing against a well-established side good enough for the Champions League however we were at home. I thought at the start of the season that these kinds of games, we wouldn’t shy away or become negative but 26% of the ball today would suggest otherwise.
Lady luck on our side?
Previous managers have been slated for far less. Given the fact Smith got us into the Premier League he deserves every chance to keep us there but when he comes out with comments that he couldn’t have asked for any more questions will be asked.
Chelsea dominated the game from start to finish if we are being honest but created very little in the first half. There best chance came when Mason Mount found himself free on the edge of the box but was denied by a routine save by Ørjan Nyland.
Anwar El Ghazi had a similar opportunity on 33 minutes put Kepa Arrizabalaga denied the former Ajax winger. In a few minute spell that Villa were on top, they came close again. El Ghazi picked out John McGinn with a lovely cross from the left. The Scottish midfielder made one of his typical bursts to beat Antonio Rudiger to the ball only to waste the chance and head the ball wide.
Jack Grealish spent most of the first half playing like a right-wing back but just before half time he received the ball for one of the few times in an attacking position. He offloaded Douglas Luiz who sent over a searching cross towards the back post. Kortney Hause saw his first effort booked by the Chelsea keeper but he was first to react by shunting the ball over the line to give the home side the lead.
Despite being so negative in the first half, there was hope that Smith was seeing what everyone else was and would encourage his players to push forward and try and keep the ball a little better in the second half instead of consistently hoofing up the field.
It wasn’t to be though and it was only a matter of time before Chelsea would score. Frank Lampard sent on reinforcements as Ross Barkley and Christian Pulisic were sent on and it was to the latter who would get Chelsea back on level terms.
Cesar Azpilicueta sent over a guided cross on the hour mark where Pulisic arrived at the back post to score from close range via the underside of the bar.
In typical Aston Villa fashion this season, two minutes later the game had completely been turned on its head. Once again Azpilicueta crossed from the right but this time it was Olivier Giroud who was given the time to turn on the ball the penalty area and covert from 10 yards out.
The game died out in the final 28 minutes with very little troubling Chelsea’s lead.
I am not one for knee jerk decisions but I do fear for Smiths future. I don’t for one minute believe the board have any plans to sack the former Brentford boss regardless of the outcome this season but I do fear for his relationship with the supporters.
In his post-match comments, he suggested that he couldn’t have asked any more from his players. Even Alan Smith (Sky Sports commentator) suggested around 25 minutes into the game that had Villa fans been in the stadium, they would have been quick to let the players and manager know about the lack of fight on show. In the past, the turning points for previous managers have been when the managers have tried to pull the wool over the supporter’s eyes.
Most Villa fans may have been optimistic going into the game with Chelsea but would have known deep down that it was going to be a hard game. But the problem is and not for the first time this season, against a top side we were far to negative playing like a non-league side against a top side in the FA Cup Third round.
I can’t help but feel that the game against Newcastle on Wednesday is a must-win for both the players and the morale of the fans. I dread to think about the reaction if we fail to pick up three points after that game.