Chelsea – Aston Villa: Olivier Giroud’s early goal was canceled by Anwar El Ghazi after the break as Aston Villa stayed above Chelsea on the table with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Chelsea had 63 percent of the ball and a healthy edge in shots but Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez made four saves to help the visitors to a point.
[ MORE: Pulisic Watch from Chelsea – Villa ]
Villa and Chelsea both remain on 26 points, the visitors remaining in fifth place on goal differential. Villa’s played two fewer matches than the Blues.
Chelsea falls to 1W-1D-3L in its last five league outings and Frank Lampard should be feeling a little uncomfortable given the big summer spend and his failure to get much from Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Villa is unbeaten in five matches with three wins.
Three things we learned from Chelsea – Aston Villa
1. More Giroud-Chilwell-Pulisic chemistry delivers opener: Giroud’s ninth goal of the season was his eighth since Nov. 24. Left-sided pace merchants Ben Chilwell and Christian Pulisic have been involved in plenty of Giroud magic this season and were again Monday when the American winger took a heel pass from Giroud and met Chilwell’s run into the box. The left back crossed as Giroud charged toward the near post and powered a header past Martinez, who was plenty good on the day.
2. Grealish works wonders: There’s something so special about Villa captain Jack Grealish, whose long dribble and big switch set up Matty Cash’s assist to El Ghazi. He must recharge when he hits the turf because the oft-fouled England international appears indefatigable. Grealish had two key passes and won nine-of-14 duels while drawing four fouls.
3. Pulisic goes deep again: As detailed in Pulisic Watch, the USMNT star started his fourth-straight game. In starting, it shows that Frank Lampard didn’t count the American amongst the “lazy” Chelsea players who infuriated him in the 3-1 loss to Arsenal on Saturday. In going the distance, he played his most minutes in a two-week stretch since Project Restart.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Martinez
There was no one huge standout in the match. N’Golo Kante, Giroud, Chilwell, Matty Cash, Grealish, and El Ghazi merit mentions but Martinez made the difference in the result.
Chelsea – Aston Villa recap
Chelsea won two early corner kicks but couldn’t get the ball on goal.
Villa’s first chance came from Jack Grealish, whose curling shot was parried by Edouard Mendy for a corner kick that produced a redirected shot to the stooping keeper.
The wide duel between Matty Cash and Christian Pulisic was fun to watch, though there was little enjoyment of Pulisic’s bicycle kick to a lunging Cash’s head after N’Golo Kante chipped a cross into the box. The Villa right back was able to return to the match after significant treatment from trainers.
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Chelsea’s breakthrough included a hockey assist for Pulisic, who took a backheeled layoff from Giroud and held the ball deep into his dribble toward Grealish before slipping the ball wide to Chilwell. The resulting cross is powered home by Giroud. The Giroudisic chemistry remains very real.
Villa answered five minutes after halftime, an unmarked El Ghazi at the back post to snap a big cross from between the legs of Mendy. Grealish did much of the work set up the play.