Tammy Abraham

Chelsea too much for scrappy Aston Villa

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Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount helped Chelsea snap a 3-match winless run with a 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The Blues improve to 29 points, six better than fifth place Wolves. They out shot the visitors 25-9, putting nine shots on target.

Trezeguet scored in the losing effort for 15th place Villa, who makes three teams just a point above the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Chelsea’s dormant Mount erupts: It had been a while since the Blues’ youngster scored, but Mount made it count. Aston Villa allowed Willian ages on the right side of the 18, and the Brazilian’s cross to Abraham wound up with Mount. He tore into the shot for his fourth goal of the year.

2. Villa finds its level: Dean Smith‘s men have the quality to stay up in their first season back in the Premier League, and are definitely more talented than many of the sides in the relegation mix. But they are now 1D-5L in their first meetings with the “Big Six.” It’s commendable that the Villans already look a mid-table side, to be sure, but that extra something special isn’t there against the top clubs.

3. Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s “Captain America” went 85 minutes in the win, subbing off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. He wasn’t a part of the goals, but was again tidy in tight spaces and a good part of Chelsea’s possession. Pulisic forced a save out of Heaton that Abraham couldn’t finish, and nearly cashed in on a free kick rebound in tight. He finished an 88 percent passer with five shots (three blocked, one on target), winning 10 of 18 duels and making one tackle.

Man of the Match:


Chelsea was lively early, with Mason Mount getting two chances before Abraham put the Blues on the board.

Reece James whipped in a cross that Abraham headed over Tom Heaton, the ex-Villa loanee neglecting a celebration for his 11th of the season.

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Mount put Chelsea ahead after the break, his first in seven league matches, when Abraham trapped Willian’s cross and Mount was there to take in the spoils.

Heaton denied Willian’s free kick near the 80th minute, and Pulisic couldn’t quite win the race to a rebound chance.

AT HALF: Dele conjures clever equalizer for Spurs; Saints up 2

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Six Wednesday matches are underway, with all but one at the break.

That hasn’t stopped the sixth from getting in on the action, as Divock Origi has undressed Jordan Pickford after a delightful pass from Sadio Mane on the counter attack.

Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Tammy Abraham scored against his former club, who got a 41st minute answer through Trezeguet.

Wolves 1-0 West Ham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Leander Dendoncker is the man on the score sheet, as Wolves seek sole possession of fifth place.

Manchester United 1-1 Tottenham – NBCSN [STREAM]

Marcus Rashford scored a goal and forced an outrageous save out of Paulo Gazzaniga minutes later, but the highlight of the day is this clever goal from Dele Alli.

Southampton 2-0 Norwich City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Danny Ings — who else? — continues to keep Saints’ hopes afloat, scoring another big goal at St. Mary’s. Ryan Bertrand‘s added one, as Southampton is flying against the grounded Canaries.

Leicester City 0-0 Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Interim boss Hayden Mullins has the Hornets alive against the dangerous Foxes, who saw Jamie Vardy booked for diving.

Liverpool 1-0 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Just underway in the Merseyside Derby, and Origi has already found the score sheet.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. West Ham

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  • Chelsea sit in 4th place, two points back of Man City
  • West Ham sit in 17th place, three points above the relegation zone
  • The Hammers have lost four of their last five matches. Chelsea meanwhile is looking for win seven in its last eight Premier League games.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 home Premier League meetings with West Ham (W9), last losing to the Hammers by a 3-2 scoreline in September 2002.

Chelsea look to keep pace in the top four and get back to winning ways as Frank Lampard‘s side hosts a London derby against struggling West Ham United (Watch live, 10:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com).

Chelsea dropped a 2-1 scoreline last week to Man City, and then was compounded with a wild 2-2 draw with Valencia in mid-week UEFA Champions League action. Defense has been an issue, as Chelsea has allowed two or more goals in three of its last four matches.

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Saturday’s match could be a big boost of confidence for Lampard’s men though, as West Ham comes to Stamford Bridge. The Hammers are in horrendous form recently under former Man City title-winning coach Manuel Pellegrini. Defensively the team has been all over the place, especially without Winston Reid, though Reid is back in training. However, based on current form, even a Chelsea team without Tammy Abraham, out with injury, should be just fine, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic running havoc along the wings.

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT – Tammy Abraham (hip)

West Ham: OUT – Issa Diop (suspension), Winston Reid, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere (all injured)


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Kepa – Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson – Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic – Pulisic, Batshuayi, Willian

West Ham: Roberto – Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell – Felipe Anderson, Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko – Haller


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on facing a struggling West Ham: “I expect West Ham to bring passion and effort. They are in a difficult place because of their recent run, and sometimes that can bring out the best in players. You look at people in their team like Mark Noble and Declan Rice, players that care for the club, and they want to react to a manager who is a top manager so I am expecting a reaction from them. We know they have individual quality in forward areas so I am taking the game nowhere near lightly. It is a tough match.”

Mark Noble on improving West Ham’s defense: “We have to defend better as a team but that side of the game does seem to have become ‘uncool’,” he observed. “The philosophy of football seems to have changed. Maybe it doesn’t look that great if the ball is near the touchline and you run over and smash it into the crowd so your team can get back into shape. Instead now, you maybe try and step over, pass it back to the ‘keeper who kicks it straight up in the air and results in a 50/50 challenge. The teams who defend best normally do well.”


Prediction

West Ham faces Chelsea at arguably the worst time. For a team in need of a pick-me-up, to have to go to Stamford Bridge and face one of the quickest, most dynamic attacks in the Premier League will leave some West Ham players with serious nerves in the tunnel before taking the field. Chelsea should have no issues, and though it’s a London derby, the hosts should take all three points.

Chelsea 3-1 West Ham

Lampard issues verdict on Chelsea draw; Abraham speaks post-injury

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is accentuating the positives after his Blues tossed aside a late lead and the chance to qualify for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with one match to spare.

[ RECAP: Valencia 2-2 Chelsea ]

Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic answered a 40th minute Valencia marker, but Daniel Wass scored in the 82nd minute to send likely both sides behind Ajax (The Dutch side leads 3-0 in Lille with a quarter-hour to play as of this article’s post time).

Chelsea hosts Lille on the final match day while Valencia is away to Ajax, who will have 10 points to the others’ eight.

From Football.London:

“It’s a positive that it is now in our hands. We both had incredible chances. We had numerous ones in the first half. I don’t feel fortunate. I didn’t love the match. It can happen in football. It is about if you can get through the game.”

Lampard said that Tammy Abraham‘s hip injury “might not be as severe as we first thought,” as the scary incident has many fearing a long-term injury following his upending in Spain. Lampard called it a “bang on the hip.”

Abraham told Chelsea TV that he feared the worst at the time, saying it was a knee to his hip area and he hopes it’s just bruised.

Chelsea draws Valencia despite Pulisic goal

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The Chelsea defense was shambolic, but Valencia’s finishing was worse, and it seemed that Christian Pulisic‘s goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s penalty save would be enough. Then Daniel Wass produced a moment of sheer brilliance good enough to keep the Spanish side’s Champions League hopes alive.

Valencia missed a host of big chances that should have won them the game, but in the 80th minute Wass arrived to deliver a goal worthy of points from acres away to secure a 2-2 draw.

Valencia were on the front foot the first 30 minutes, but they were left empty-handed as Maxi Gomez missed a blinding chance on 20 minutes that left the home fans stunned. A wonderful cross form Rodrigo on the break fell right to the feet of Gomez, but the Uruguayan completely whiffed while sliding in awkwardly at the far post, a surefire miss of the season candidate.

Gomez again was left begging on the half-hour mark as the cross from Dani Parejo was too far for Ferran Torres but reached Gomez at the far post where his effort was saved by a charging Kepa Arrizabalaga despite the goal gaping.

Chelsea began to push after that, and worked a pair of chances with N’Golo Kante firing over the bar and Tammy Abraham forcing an exceptional save from Man of the Match Jasper Cillessen who tipped his poke over the bar. Just as the Blues were getting going, Valencia finally found the back of the net. From the right flank Rodrigo delivered a fabulous lofted cross into the middle of the box and Carlos Soler volleyed it home past Arrizabalaga.

The Blues responded right away, with Mateo Kovacic delivering a speculative turn-and-shoot from the top of the box that squirted inside the left post past a diving Cillessen for the Croatian’s first Chelsea goal. He nearly had a second before halftime as he rifled in a silky Pulisic delivery from the far post and Cillessen saved. Chelsea suffered a blow just before the break as Tammy Abraham landed awkwardly and was in serious pain, holding his left hip. Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi upon the second-half restart.

Just moments after the whistle blew, Pulisic put Chelsea in front 2-1 as he nodded home Kurt Zouma‘s header with a toe poke. It was initially ruled out for offside, but after an extremely long VAR review, the goal was given as technology proved Pulisic was just level with the defender. Ezequiel Garay was booked for dissent after the goal was given, appearing to argue that he was fouled by Zouma on the aerial challenge.

Yet again the Chelsea defense was let off as Valencia should have scored, but Torres missed over the goal with a chip attempt as the Blues scrambled and Arrizabalaga was out of his net. Chelsea again allowed Valencia through as Jorginho was harshly whistled for a penalty in a clash with Jose Gaya, but after VAR allowed the call to stand, Arrizabalaga made a spectacular save to maintain the lead.

The game remained wide open as Chelsea nearly doubled the lead through Willian whose feed from Batshuayi left him alone with a charging Cillessen who saved well. Valencia began to pour on the pressure, and ultimately it bore fruit. A feed to the right by Parejo was dummied and left to Wass whose cross (it was absolutely a cross) stunningly found the top corner and into the back of the net off the woodwork.

Chelsea nearly found a winner thanks to a massive deflection on a Batshuayi shot, but Cillessen somehow managed to make a kick save despite already having gone to ground to meet the initial hit. For good measure, Valencia missed a sure winner at the death, with Rodrigo mishitting at the far post from a Gaya cross along the face of goal.

The two points lost for Chelsea were valuable ones in a crowded Group H, with the trio of Chelsea, Valencia, and Ajax all coming into the day level on seven points. With the Blues still to play Lille while Valencia has to take on Ajax, they will still believe to be holding the upper hand, but it will all come down to the final match day.