Premiership review: Aston Villa 0 – 0 Chelsea

Match reports

Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “The club of jaw-jaw have become the club of draw-draw and none of those publicly upbraided by Mourinho over the weekend, namely Salomon Kalou, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Andrei Shevchenko, redeemed themselves here. The galvanising presence of John Terry and penetrative wing-play of Arjen Robben cannot be restored quickly enough; Chelsea should be a more formidable unit when they next resurface in the Premiership, against Wigan Athletic on Jan 13.”

The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “Chelsea may enter the market place with a greater desperation because, after all, they have higher aspirations than Villa. Some well based rumours claim Mourinho will try to buy a forward as well as a defender this month. Considering how little aid Drogba was given by Shaun Wright-Phillips and Salomon Kalou before they were withdrawn, that is a rational objective. It is consoling for Mourinho that his squad should, in any case, be close to full strength when Premiership action resumes. He believes that John Terry will be able to return just over a fortnight after back surgery in the league match with Wigan on January 13.”

The Independent, Sam Wallace: “Goalless draws at Villa Park on a cold Tuesday night in January was not Roman Abramovich’s idea of fun when he decided to throw £300m at an English football club but Mourinho still has a sense of the wider picture. Chelsea’s last three games have been United’s chance to bayonet the champions, as it is, the gap is still just six points and the wounds are not fatal.”

The Times, Matt Dickinson: “Sir Alex Ferguson will dismiss it as cheap talk but José Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, was making a fair argument last night when he expressed his delight that the deficit to Manchester United was only six points. Chelsea might have expected to be twice that far behind after the worst run of form since the Portuguese first swaggered down the Fulham Road.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Neil Barnett: “When the final whistle went Villa celebrated like they had won. Chelsea just seemed pleased this period of games is over.”

The good

  1. First half performance. Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Didier Drogba all played really well, and the defence held strong. Aston Villa offered very little and were there for the taking, and as the half progressed it felt like it was just a matter of time before we opened the scoring and quite possibly the floodgates.
  2. Lampard, Essien, Carvalho and Drogba. Lampard made Michael Ballack’s recent efforts look positively lethargic. Sky named him Man of the Match and on his first half performance they were correct, but second half he wasn’t quite so influential. Didier Drogba was his usual magnificent self, both in attack and defence, and Ricardo Carvalho was simply everywhere, as was Michael Essien who never stopped running, tackling, defending, attacking, shooting… he was outstanding.
  3. A clean sheet. After shipping 8 goals in four Premiership games, it was somewhat encouraging that a defence weakened by the loss of Khalid Boulahrouz to a knee injury (medial ligament damage; out for at least six weeks) after half an hour held out for 90 minutes.
  4. Strategic bookings. Both Drogba and Carvalho picked up a fifth yellow card which rules them out of the League Cup semi-final against Wycombe Wanderers next week. One wonders whether Jose Mourinho goes so far as to decide how the players get themselves booked in these situations?

The bad

  1. The result. Frustrating to say the least. Even with all our injuries we should have been good enough to take three points off a team that had lost their last four games and their last three at home. Not capitalising on Manchester United’s hiccup against Newcastle United on Monday may come back to haunt us.
  2. Second half peformance. Perhaps Martin O’Neill’s half time team talk galvanised Villa, and perhaps fatigue played its part, but we were pretty poor for the majority of the final 45 minutes.
  3. Salomon Kalou and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Both were ineffectual. Kalou is young and new to the Premiership, so can just about be forgiven for his lack of composure in the final third of the pitch. But Wright-Phillips has no excuses. Devoid of ideas, sharpness and confidence, the only factor that may prevent him from being sold in the current transfer window is our injury list.
  4. The injury to Boulahrouz. He is a bit hit and miss, but at least he’s a specialised centre back. John Terry’s imminent return makes it easier to bear his loss.
  5. Lampard’s miss at the very death.

Men of the Match

Didier Drogba and Michael Essien.

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