Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea – Foy the Villain

Manchester City revelled in our first defeat in 14 games. Liverpool and Arsenal celebrated. The outcome they craved finally arrived.

We had been beaten, with Chris Foy partially to thank for that. Our performance was itself not of the highest order, but Foy’s officiating certainly was horrendous.

Match Report

Prior to Willian’s second yellow card, the match seemed destined to conclude in a reasonable stalemate. Both sides were not worthy of all three points.

Our play was conservative, shorn of any incisive penetration and accentuating our lack of a consistent goal scorer, with Fernando Torres largely ineffective. It made our probing play somewhat useless as Villa’s organised defence resisted the pressure. The back four of Leonardo Bacuna, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Joe Bennett were excellently drilled, often catching us offside.

Below-par first-half performances have become the norm in recent weeks, only to brush our opponents aside in the second period, as proven by our victories at Craven Cottage and at the Bridge against Tottenham. But here, refereeing decisions played a significant role.

Minutes before the interval, Nemanja Matic was adjudged to have handled the ball whilst forcing it past Villa keeper Brad Guzan, with replays showing the Serb to have made contact with his arm.

Another significant decision swiftly followed as Ryan Bennett cynically fouled Ramires with the Brazilian charging into the box. Foy, wrongly it seems, decided Vlaar was sufficiently close to Ramires in order to deny him a free shot at goal. Bennett should have seen red.

Soon after the break, Jose Mourinho sensed the need of a boost of urgency and purpose as he, after some hesitance, replaced Oscar with Andre Schurrle as Demba Ba joined the fray at Torres’s expense. Jose had reportedly changed his mind at the last moment, instructing for Oscar’s withdrawal over his original choice of Willian, with Oscar failing to emerge from his recent winter slump. Jose paid for his disinclination.

Moments after surviving substitution, Willian, as demanded by Jose, tracked back and followed the run of Fabian Delph, with the Villa midfielder going to ground under the Brazilian’s minimal contact. The offence did not warrant a booking, let alone one which necessitated a red card. It was the game-changer.

Bennett had stifled a goalscoring opportunity in the first period with a mere booking the consequence. This time, Vlaar was the offender, the Dutchman poleaxing Schurrle with a forceful challenge on the edge of the box as the German broke into the area. Once again, Foy’s verdict was incorrect, producing a caution for the centre-half when red would have been the more appropriate outcome.

Since Willian’s sending off, Matic had covered a vast amount of ground but as he began to tire, space appeared for Villa to exploit with our back-line looking uncommonly porous.

Villa began to believe. Delph’s beautifully-executed back-heel past Cech sent the Holte End into raptures of celebration.

Ramires’s disgraceful stamp on Karim El Ahmadi compounded our misery as Foy reduced Chelsea to nine. And as Jose rightly protested Gabriel Agbonlahor’s grabbing of Ramires, he too was sent off.

Starting XI – Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Torres.

Subs – Schwarzer, Kalas, Mikel, Lampard, Schurrle, Salah, Ba (Cole and Eto’o were absurdly omitted from match day squad).

Man of the Match – Fabian Delph

No Chelsea player, besides the superb Matic, merited the Man of the Match accolade, but even the outstanding Serb was pipped by Delph’s wonderful display.

Apart from scoring a sublime goal, the Villa midfielder was fantastic throughout, his energy, work rate and assured passing sparking speculation over his England chances.

The 24 year-old has been largely consistent with his impressive performances this season and prompted me to question Roy Hodgson’s decision to include Tom Cleverley in his squad to face Denmark earlier this month, with the Manchester United midfielder turning out inept displays for his club.

Foy and Chelsea

When Foy is appointed referee for a Chelsea match, the chances of a player in blue seeing red is significantly increased. He has sent off Chelsea players six times in eight Premier League matches whilst producing only 23 red cards in his 232 games.


As I’m sure you are aware, we next face Arsenal in the league (after Galatasaray in mid-week) in a monumental encounter and will be without Willian, Ramires and Mourinho’s important presence on the touch-line. However, courtesy of our wealth of options, the likes of Schurrle and Mohamed Salah will be given an opportunity to impress. The Germany international will most likely replace Willian while Frank Lampard is the most preferable choice to replace Ramires.

Title Race Analysis

After Manchester City overcame Hull earlier in the day, our failure to secure maximum points means that City, who are yet to play their three games in hand, have the Premier League crown to lose.

However, I should mention their three matches include a trip to Old Trafford.


Regardless of Foy’s refereeing woes, we failed to play well enough to secure the points in a damaging defeat.

There are 8 comments

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  1. Edgar Robert

    Bennett could potentially have been sent off – but it wasn’t a clear goalscoring chance as Ramires was a short distance outside the box and Vlaar was relatively close. A yellow card was probably correct.

    The second yellow for Willian was extremely soft as there was minimal contact; surely an acceptable challenge. I have seen enough of Delph to believe he didn’t dive and wasn’t looking for any card – a costly mistake by the referee.

    Ramires most significant contribution was shameful and doesn’t deserve defending and Delph’s goal was, as you say, beautifully executed,

    I remember Lambert was annoyed Ivanovic didn’t get sent off in August against Villa and Terry’s handball was ignored so maybe this averages the decisions up. Aston Villa had to take it on the chin in August…

  2. WorkingClassPost

    Can’t agree with the Ramires red at all, it did look rough, but he didn’t instigate the incident.

    The other guy jumped in two footed against him, and all you can say is that Ramires should’ve done more to pull out of it; yellow perhaps, but by then it was all over so it’s just about missing him for three matches that really matters.

    Without going on about why we keep losing after we take our main striker off, one thing that struck me, was how jaded we were starting to look. We had plenty of nice positive possession, but after little more than half an hour nobody wanted, or was able, to make good early runs into the box, and particularly when Torres went wide, there was often no option for an early ball in front of goal.

    And all those offsides just made things worse. Surely Shurrle or Salah could’ve timed their runs better (there’s a Brazilian called Wallyson who does this to perfection too, but he seems to have issues with consistency).

    Didn’t Salah’s goals against us come when running from deep, or is it just that our offsides are so easily foiled?

    Whether we play a second striker, or let one midfielder defend less and play a more forward role, we must make a better commitment to attack in these sort of games.

    Having 60 or 70% possession, and then losing, is bollocks of the highest order, yet we’re becoming repeat offenders.

    Anyway, that’s my two p’s worth.

  3. Ramone

    Villa 1 – 0 Chelsea. Rambling thoughts.

    We chucked it away.

    I was watching the game live on T.V..
    When Jose brought Shirley on for Oscar he was obviously in two minds. Which Brazillian shall I pull ? Willian or Oscar ? Oscar or Willian ? Willian’s got a booking so let’s haul him off. Oh, second thoughts , Willian’s a sensible lad. He’ll not get booked again. Promise me you’ll not get booked again. Ok boss. Let’s get Oscar off. He’s been cr*p again. Done.

    Jose must be kicking himself. Willian betrayed his trust, took a chance he should never have taken and walked the red card trudge of Shame. I wonder what Jose said to him.

    And whilst Jose might be making a fuss about the ref (true, on another day Willlian may have got away with his second booking, and we may have not gone one down and Ramires may not have jumped on the bloke’s leg) he’s really just hoping that the next ref will be good to us vesrus the Arse.

    Ramires was a red card all day every day. An idiotic lunge from a
    frustrated player in a frustrated team with a frustrated manager and
    frustrated fans. We should never have lost this game. We threw it
    away. And we now carry the suspensions forward.

    Will we win the league ? I thought we needed to avoid defeat at Liverpool and Villa to be in with a chance and with Liverpool, Arse and Man C now out of everything we will be stretched – Tuesday victory assumed – whilst they will be lapping up the rest days.
    I am still hoping a lot. But not quite believing as much. We must beat the Arse

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