The vibes heading into the final day of the season were eerily similar for Chelsea as they were last year. We were in a similar position, a win would guarantee a place in Europe’s elite, anything less and we could suffer. The tension amongst the fans was high but so was the optimism after a brilliant display against Leicester last weekend. There were 3 Chelsea Academy graduates on the pitch, 2 of them playing in Blue and 1 playing in Claret and Blue. However, it was the one playing against Chelsea that had the last laugh as Bertrand Traore helped his side to victory. A goal from the Burkina Faso international and a penalty from Anwar El Ghazi were enough for Aston Villa to run out 2–1 winners in the end. The Aston Villa fans were back in the stadium for this one and were buzzing since the first minute and their presence was made oh so abundantly clear every time Villa were attacking. The Blues were the better side for the vast majority of the first half. Mason Mount, playing his 150th game in English football, was at the center of our chances as he was combining well with Azpilicueta to carve out quite a few chances for us. As the game went on, we were in for something that has been the case for Chelsea for quite a few seasons now, a lot of chances but no one to finish them off. Towards the end of the half Villa were starting to sniff around the box and were beginning to trouble our defense and our hopes of a UCL qualification. Just before half-time, the former Chelsea boy, Bertrand Traore scuffed home from a well worked corner and we went 1–0 down at the break. More bad luck would follow as reports came out that Mendy had injured himself in a collision with the goal post which meant that we were forced to bring Kepa on at half time. Aston Villa began the half as they ended as it was the Midlands club who were at our throats and were looking to score another goal. Things went from bad to worse in the 50th minute when Jorginho fouled Traore inside the 18-yard box and Anwar El Ghazi slotted home from the resulting spot kick. 2–0 up and Villa were looking comfortable and far the better side as the half went on. Chilwell got a goal back for Chelsea in the 70th minute but we failed to build on it before losing Azpilicueta late on to a red card on Grealish and ended up on the losing side of the score line.
Villa started the game largely on the back foot with most of the game going on in their own half. As the half progressed, they started coming into their own and got a goal towards the end of the first 45 mins, pretty much against the run of play. However, the biggest moment for them was the penalty that was won by Traore as the second goal gave them some room to relax and increased the pressure on us as now we needed to score 3 to win the game. As El Ghazi slotted home the second goal from the spot, Villa got the breathing space they would’ve wanted and the rest of the game went out almost without a hitch for them. Even after conceding a well worked goal from Ben Chilwell, a victory never quite looked in doubt for the Villans and they eventually held on to deny Chelsea another goal and ended their season on a high. This was Villa’s first win over Chelsea since 2014 and one which would be cherished by them even more so as they were able to celebrate it with the returning fans.
On the contrary, Chelsea had a good opening spell, creating multiple chances, looking threatening throughout the first 40 mins but as usual, were lacking the clinical edge in the final third. As has been the case with us in all of our defeats under Thomas Tuchel, we were made to pay for missing all those chances as Traore scored from their only corner of the half. The key talking point for us is the same as has been for most games, we need to take chances when we get them as we’re guilty of missing so many clear cut opportunities. We had some good opportunities in the first half, with Timo Werner not connecting with a header from Azpilicueta’s cross and then swinging and completely missing another cross. Mount, even though was at the center of all the good attacking play did miss a few goal scoring opportunities and in the end the our only goal of the game came through left-back Ben Chilwell. With the UCL final in a week’s time, we really need to take a look at our productivity. Apart from the players being guilty of missing chances, the major takeaway was Mendy’s injury in trying to prevent Villa’s first goal as the keeper collided with the goal post. Mendy was replaced by Kepa at halftime and even though the Spaniard wasn’t at fault for anything this time, Tuchel would be sweating over Mendy’s availability for the Champion’s league final.
Aston Villa: Bertrand Traore
Traore was the major difference maker in today’s game for Dean Smith’s side as he was involved in both the goals, scoring one and winning the penalty for the other. Even before Villa had scored their first goal, Traore had the best opportunity to score for them only for him to hit it straight at Mendy. Traore was causing the Chelsea defense a lot of trouble and the defenders would’ve been relieved to see him walk off the pitch in the 73rd minute.
Chelsea: (Gareth Bale?) Mason Mount
Ideally, this title today belongs to Gareth Bale as he did more than any other Chelsea player to help them secure UCL qualification. Mount was the best player on the pitch in a blue shirt as he was the center of anything good we were producing but did miss quite a few opportunities where he could’ve given us the lead. Playing in a fluid front three, he was combining well with Azpilicueta to carve out opportunities for us, until he had to drop deeper to accommodate Havertz, 20 mins into the second half. Gareth Bale to Chelsea in the summer though?
Aston Villa: Emi Martinez(7), Ezri Konsa(6), Kortney Hause(7), Tyrone Mings(7), Matt Target(6), John McGinn(6), Marvelous Nakamba(7), Bertrand Traore(8), Jack Grealish(5), Anwar El Ghazi(6), Ollie Watkins(6). Subs: Carney Chukwuemeka(6), Jacob Ramsey(6)
Chelsea: Edou Mendy(6), Reece James(6), Thiago Silva(7), Antonio Rudiger(5), Cesar Azpilicueta(6), Jorginho(5), Mateo Kovacic(5), Ben Chilwell(6), Mason Mount(7), Christian Pulisic(4), Timo Werner(4), Subs: Kepa Arrizabalaga(6), Hakim Ziyech(5), Kai Havertz(6)
The 2020–21 Premier League season is done and dusted. Aston Villa finish their season with a win and will be heading into the off season with a win against 5 time Premier League Champions and their players would get some rest before they head to the bizarrely named ‘Euros 2020’ in 2021. Chelsea on the other hand, have a lot to introspect and have very little time to do so as they face Premier League Champions, Manchester City in the Champion’s League final on 29th May, 2021 in Portugal. Tuchel has a lot of questions to ask of this side after this last display, with the all important UCL final on the horizon as he looks to be only the second manager in Chelsea’s history to win it. If anything, this was a good wakeup call for Chelsea before arguably the most important game of their season. I certainly hope the Blue Flag is Flying High come the morning of May 30, 2021.