Chelsea finishes fourth despite 10-man loss at Aston Villa
Chelsea’s top-four dreams came true, though they can claim little credit for the final bit after a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday.
Ben Chilwell scored Chelsea’s only goal after Villa built a 2-0 lead on goals from ex-Blues prospect Bertrand Traore and a penalty from Anwar El Ghazi, the Blues finishing with 10 men after Cesar Azpilicueta’s rash swing at Jack Grealish.
Seventy-two percent possession and a 23-6 advantage in shots did not deliver a win to Chelsea, but Tottenham’s 4-2 defeat of Leicester CIty means that Chelsea finishes fourth with 67 points.
Villa finishes 11th with 55 points, Grealish’s return showing just how important he is to the Villa Park set.
As for “Pulisic Watch,” the USMNT star started and had his moments, flashing a header off target and hitting a bicycle kick that was caught by Emiliano Martinez. The Villa goalkeeper was quite good in the win.
Three things we learned from Aston Villa - Chelsea
1. Chelsea-developed ghost haunts Blues: Bertrand Traore was a threat during the first half and his goal just before halftime was against the run of play but a deserved marker. Traore joined Chelsea’s academy in 2013 and played for the Blues 10 times in the PL, scoring twice, but also going on loan to Ajax and Vitesse. HIs move to Lyon saw his star rise, and he’s now scored seven times for the Villans and also won the penalty that El Ghazi scored to make it 2-0. Traore did not celebrate his goal that put Chelsea’s UCL hopes in jeopardy, but Leicester and Liverpool sure did.
2. When it rains, it pours: Not only did the Blues lose, they lost their goalkeeper as Edouard Mendy flew into the goal post trying to get a hold of Trarore’s opener. Then Timo Werner had Chelsea back within one just before the hour mark but hold on -- the freeze-frame of VAR saw Cesar Azpilicueta offside by a couple of toes. And as Champions League opponents Man City ruthlessly ran past Everton.
3. Mendy mending? Yeah, you read that correctly above. Mendy’s hard collision with the goal post means Kepa Arrizabalaga -- he of the up-and-down journey at Chelsea -- could be between the sticks for the Champions League FInal, which is the Blues’ only hopes of going back to the UCL. Wild.
Man of the Match: Jack Grealish
Traore was very good and his goal sensational but this Grealish kid... he’s incredible, and his health shows just how important he is to everything Villa. Now will they be able to keep him for another year?