Chelsea 4-0 Aston Villa

Match reports

The Guardian, Jon Brodkin: “Anyone who imagined that Sunday’s defeat at Tottenham would have lasting implications for Chelsea was set straight by this rousing victory last night – one achieved without a whiff of confrontation with match officials or opponents. Their excellent second-half display was the type that ought to endear them to more neutrals, featuring three goals that swept aside a disappointing Aston Villa who never seriously threatened and could have lost more heavily.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “Having been knocked out by Charlton Athletic at this stage last season, and seen Manchester United get seasick in Southend on Tuesday evening, Mourinho took precautions against suffering an upset, fielding a formidable line-up. Those enjoying his fall from grace ”” and there are many in Milan ”” would have scoffed that Shevchenko’s selection was a sign of Mourinho playing his second string, but with an industrious performance, he has begun to prove his critics wrong.”

The Telegraph, John Ley: “Chelsea have been accused of many things but taking the Carling Cup lightly is not one of them. Having spent several days complaining about officials, they concentrated instead in moving closer to another trophy, easing themselves into the last eight of the competition at a canter.”

The Independent, Jason Burt: “In a competition that has so often failed to make a noise in the past, a result that will resonate throughout the rest of the Premiership – but also another worrying incident of an object being thrown at a player. In league terms four places separate Chelsea and Aston Villa but, last night, the gulf was vast. It was certainly far wider than the four goals that Jose Mourinho’s players rattled in and Martin O’Neill’s conceded.”

Daily Mail, Neil Ashton: “Chelsea were relentless and, although Michael Essien and Didier Drogba added to Chelsea’s tally with late strikes, Lampard was the driving force behind this victory.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Paul Mason: “Chelsea’s first four-goal haul of the season made it an easy passage to the quarter-finals as Premiership opposition Aston Villa had no answer to the strike power of Lampard, Shevchenko, Essien and Drogba.”

The good

  1. Chelsea’s dominance of the game. Sixteen attempts on goal to Villa’s one. Martin O’Neill is a shrewd manager whose teams are always compact and difficult to play against, but I’ve personally never seen a side under his command so comprehensively overwhelmed as Villa were last night.
  2. The midfield. Michael Essien was typically superb – £24 million, Mr. Aulas? It looks like you were robbed. And just ask Gavin McCann and the rest of the Villa midfield whether Ballack and Lampard can play together.
  3. The football. Style, guile and steel – what more do you need? Some of the passing and build-up play was as good as I’ve ever seen down at the Bridge. It’s just like watching Arsenal. Only with goals.
  4. Mark Halsey. A very creditable performance from the man in black; unfussy, cards to a minimum, great game of football. Can’t ask for more than that really.
  5. Seeing Petr Cech in the stands at half time. Although it isn’t unfair to suggest that Cudicini probably could have joined him for large chunks of the game.
  6. Randy Lerner providing the Villa fans with free travel down to the Bridge. And they got to see some great football too. Bargain!

The bad

  1. Objects thrown by Villa fans at the Chelsea players. On the whole they were fantastic in terms of their support, but there are always a few fuckwits around to spoil it.
  2. The home fans. Cheap tickets, full house, great football. You’d think that the combination might have encouraged them to make a bit more noise really.
  3. If there is one small quibble about the performance, it’s that we should use the full backs more; I lost count of the number of times Bridge and Geremi were stood in acres of space, begging for the ball. The situation improved in the second half as we started to dominate (Geremi’s contribution to Essien’s goal for example), but it would be good to see them getting forwards more often.
  4. Graham Poll, in the headlines again after another controversial decision? Surely not? How many more times?

Man of the Match

Frank Lampard. A great performance, but also because we’ll have to rename it the Michael Essien Man of the Match Award if the mighty Ghanaian carries on like this.

Final thoughts

This team is starting to look like something very special indeed. The same sort of emphatic performance against Watford on Saturday would be a great way to end a week which started in the worst possible way.

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