It was an emotional afternoon at Villa Park yesterday afternoon following the news that broke late Friday afternoon that Stiliyan Petrov had been diagnosed of acute leukaemia.
All protests against the manager and the board were cancelled and rightly so but you couldn’t help but think Petrov’s illness has once again saved the manager from feeling the full brunt from angry fans.
Before someone jumps on my back – I have always been a big fan of Stan – since the first time I watched him play for Celtic
I won’t lie – I got very excited when he moved to us from the Glasgow giants and I have always praised his work rate and what he offers for the club. There have been times when Stan has made mistakes on the pitch – but you could never fault the man’s effort towards the Claret and Blue course.
Before I go onto yesterdays game, Once again I wish Stan and all his family the very best in his road to recovery and I am sure he knows that he will always have the backing of the Aston Villa faithful.
Now onto the game – Lets be honest if was never going to be an easy fixture. Chelsea are a different side under Roberto Di Matteo to the one we beat 3-1 at Stamford Bridge under Andreas Villas-Boas.
And it wasn’t long before the Blues got hold of the game when they took the advantage inside ten minutes.
Salomon Kalou cut inside from the left and found Juan Mata, who was denied by Shay Given. The rebound fell to Mata’s Spanish team-mate Fernando Torres, who was then denied by a last ditch tackle from full back Stephen Warnock, but former Aston Villa trainee Daniel Sturridge converted the loose ball.
Branislav Ivanovic doubled Chelsea’s lead 6 minutes after the break when he turned the ball past Shay Given from another set piece.
James Collins then gave Villa a lifeline when he pulled one back for Villa just as they looked dead and berried. Eric Lichaj sent in a long throw (Rory Delap style) and the Welsh defender headed home – as Petr Cech had no chance in the Chelsea goal.
A few minutes later Villa were then back on level terms (not that we deserved it), but in the spirit of the day, you couldn’t help but think the Gods were watching over all those in Claret and Blue.
Marc Albrighton crossed a dangerously low ball across the Chelsea six-yard box and Lichaj made no mistake at the far post.
But then a Chelsea side who never looked like they got out of 2nd gear all afternoon, turned up the gear and with 8 minutes left on the clock Ivanovic headed past Given from a Florent Malouda cross.
Villa did push to get back into the game, but it was to be there downfall when Chelsea caught them on the counter attack when Sturridge broke with the ball before finding Torres who put the ball into the back of the net in true Fernando Torres style.
Still Not Good Enough!
Despite coming back from two goals down yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that it covered up another very poor performance from us and if we are to be playing Premiership football next season, things need to improve.
Yes it was a inexperienced side, but these players have to step up and be counted if they want to have a future at this football club. A lot of these so called younger players are no longer young, and should of made an impact on the first time by now if they was going to.
Once again we defended poorly from set pieces, and in turn wasted our own chances. James Collins had at least 2 free headers from corners in the first half and put them over the bar – and he needs to really take these chances.
Alex McLeish, in my opinion made the wrong decision in not starting with Marc Albrighton, but credit were it is due to the manager – he sore that Chris Herd had no impact on the game, what so ever (once again in my opinion), and took him off for the winger witch did wake Villa up to at least have a go at Roberto Di Matteos side.
We have 8 games left and I have pinpointed the four games against Stoke, Bolton, West Brom and Norwich as games we need to be looking at taking something from.
I believe 6 points will keep us in the league – but it wont be easy as all four teams will want to pick up points against us, because lets be honest – we are the big team in this relegation fight and most clubs would love nothing more than to see Aston Villa’s name in the Championship next season.