Before today’s game, I tweeted that I felt a clean sheet was almost as important as three points today for Aston Villa.
Villa have conceded 12 goals on their travels this season in four games which has made picking up wins on the road difficult. Chelsea have their troubles despite spending over £1 billion in the last 12 months but despite this, today was never going to be straightforward.
A win takes Aston Villa up to sixth in the Premier League with four wins from six games and there was a bonus today, Ollie Watkins is underway with his goals in the league for this campaign.
Another way to look at our away form this campaign so far is that we have now visited St James Park, Anfield and Stamford Bridge this season. I can guarantee none of them are looking forward to their visits to Villa Park!
Both sides were cagey in the opening 45 minutes, they both had the look of sides who didn’t want to lose.
Chelsea had the first chance inside 5 minutes when Moisés Caicedo unleashed a shot from the edge of the box but it was nothing more than catching practice for Emiliano Martínez.
Villas’s first chance came through Lucas Digne when a Douglas Luiz corner was cleared to the French international and he caught with a sweet strike to force a fingertip save from Chelsea goalkeeper, Robert Sánchez.
In a battle of the goalkeepers, it was the turn of Martínez. Mykhailo Mudryk picked out the run of Nicolas Jackson who tried to chip past the Villa keeper but the World Cup winner was able to save at the near post.
Then it was the turn of summer signing Nicolò Zaniolo but his headed effort was tipped over the bar by Sánchez.
The home side did have the ball in the back of the net just before half-time through Axel Disasi but it was rightfully chalked off for being offside.
The second half started the same way the first half ended with both sides carving out chances but both keepers equal to anything thrown at them.
Just before the hour mark, the hosts were down to 10 men when Malo Gusto was given his marching orders. The Frenchman lunged into his fellow countryman, Digne and although referee Jarred Gillett (who was poor all game) only pulled out a yellow card, a VAR call overturned it to a red and rightly so.
The visitors began to control the game and soon took advantage with the winning goal through Watkins. Moussa Diaby picked the ball up on the halfway line before releasing Watkins to his left. Chelsea defender Levi Colwill was able to block the forward’s first effort but Watkins made no mistake with his second to make it 0-1.
The chances kept coming for both sides with Ben Chillwell and Cole Palmer forcing saves out of Martínez for the hosts while Diaby and Jacob Ramsey came close for Villa.
But in the end, the single goal was enough to give Aston Villa all three points in the Capital.
“For us, it’s very important in the beginning to try to keep being consistent in Premier League. We needed to be stronger than we were against Newcastle and Liverpool.
“Today was a tough match, but we competed very well. We tried to start at the beginning with control of the ball and being stronger defensively and we did it.”
“We need to grow up like a team, not only in an individual way. A player like Nicolas (Jackson) is so young and is feeling (into) the Premier League and learning.
“He needs time, and in this type of game, we are competing and want to win. But the players, when they are young, need to learn with experience and make a mistake.”
Aston Villa will welcome Everton to Villa Park for the second time this season on Wednesday night when the two sides meet in the League Cup. Brighton will then be the visitors next Saturday at Villa Park in the Premier League.
Chelsea host Brighton at Stamford Bridge in the League Cup mid-week followed by a West London derby against Fulham a week Monday.