By Kieran Lovelock
Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea
Chelsea failed to capitalize on Manchester United dropping points by drawing 0-0 away to Aston Villa on Saturday. The Blues entered the game knowing that a win would take them seven points clear at the top of the table but ultimately failed to get past a stoic Villa side, who recently came under the new management of former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier.
Chelsea started with an all French frontline with youngster Gael Kakuta continuing to deputize for Didier Drogba. Frank Lampard was also still out and this was the first time in nearly a year that the two hadn’t started together in a league game for Chelsea.
Chelsea had most of the possession with 54% and also had more shots on goal with 13 compared to Villa’s 11, but there was doubt that they missed the influence of their most potent goal scorers.
Villa lined up 4-4-1-1 with Ashley Young playing in behind John Carew up front and it wasn’t the first time this season that Chelsea had failed to break down a well organized and defensively minded side.
Instead of starting the game with venom and zest Chelsea had the look of a side that was relaxed in the knowledge that a draw would see them maintain their commanding position in the table and after the game manager Carlo Ancelloti thought that a draw was a fair result. “We played well in the second half but in the first half Villa did very well. All in all a draw was a fair.”
Villa almost won it however in the final seconds when Chelsea youngster Josh Mceachran was dispossessed in midfield with just seconds remaining. Nigel Reo Coker burst through the Chelsea backline with only Petr Cech to beat, only to put it tamely wide when it mattered the most.
Aston Villa can pleased with the result however as Chelsea had scored a mammoth 24 goals before the game started and anyone who prevents them from scoring. Afterwards Gerard Houllier claimed that it was his side’s spirit that had earned them a point. “We had some important players missing today but the ones that filled in did very well and our spirit saw us through.”
Even before the game started however it has been a good week for Chelsea despite them not even playing a game. With Liverpool being in turmoil through their takeover and with all not being right Manchester United through the frivolous activities of Wayne Rooney one must think that should Chelsea simply keep focused that the title will be theirs.
Villa (4-4-1-1)- Friedel; Warnock, Beye, Dunne (Clark 13), Collins; Downing, Petrov, Reo Coker, Ireland (Sidwell 84); Young; Carew (Delfouneso 74)
Chelsea (4-3-3)- Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Ferreira (Bosingwa 75), Cole; Essien, Mikel, Ramires (McEachran 76); Malouda, Anelka, Kakuta (Zhirkov 46).