Reaction to Ramires red card – Getty Images
Aston Villa 1-0 Chelsea
Saturday 15 March 2014
Chelsea’s title charge was damaged when they fell to defeat against Aston Villa. To make matters worse, their manager Jose Mourinho was sent off, along with two of his players. Willian was the first to go for two yellows and Ramires went for an ugly challenge on Karim El Ahmadi that could have broken his leg. It was one of the worst tackles of the season without question and it angered the Villa bench. That led to Mourinho being dismissed by referee Chris Foy who has now sent off six Chelsea players – and now one manager – in his last eight games with the Londoners. Willian might argue his second yellow was harsh but Ramires simply had to go.
Regardless of how they did it, Villa got a huge win thanks to a cheeky goal from the man of the match Fabian Delph. The Special One suggested that Manchester City – who picked up a fine win with ten men away at Hull City earlier in the day – are poised to claim top spot should they win their games in hand. Mourinho himself failed to win at Villa Park which is somewhat of a bogey ground for him. He’s picked up three losses and three draws at the stadium, which for such a great coach is unbelivable.
Chelsea – as well as with the red cards – felt hard done by as Nemanja Matic’s effort was disallowed for handball. Chelsea had the early superiority in the game but it was Villa who nearly made an early mark as Christian Benteke headed over, after a quick break from Gabriel Agbonlahor. Chelsea responded by nearly creating a chance for Torres but Eden Hazard’s cross went over the Spainard’s head. Willian was next to threaten when his great feet opened up the space for a shot from distance, but that hit the side netting with Guzan streching.
Paul Lambert’s positive approach which is designed to counter fast was working well as Karim El Ahmadi blazed over and Christian Benteke went close to meeting Andreas Weimann’s pass. Chelsea dominated possession but Villa’s quick breaks forced Chelsea back, so they could only threaten sporadically. On one such occasion, Oscar’s pass sent Torres away, only for the forward to run wide and delay, allowing the outstanding Delph to cut out his cross.
Villa’s confidence appeared to be growing and they were not phased by Chelsea’s firepower, working hard and closing down, allowing no space for the blues to create easy openings. Torres was given another chance to shoot only to be met by a wall of claret and blue shirts. Benteke went very close at the other end. Villa broke and the ball fell to the big Belgian whose scissor kicked vollied the ball past Cahill and Cech, only for it to go just wide.
Chelsea believed they had got the opening goal when Matic scrambled the ball into the net from a corner but it was correctly ruled out. Chelsea might disagree with the decision but it certainly seemed to be a clear handball by the Serbian midfielder. His Portugesse manager was frustrated again soon after that incident, when Ramires was hacked down by Joe Bennett. Mourinho Wanted a red card but didn’t get one. Oscar could only put the resulting free kick into Brad Guzan’s hands.
Later in the game, Villa were being forced back and their defending became desperate with both Vlaar and Joe Bennett just hoofing the ball away only for it to come straight back each time. Chelsea were now on top but the Villa defence continued to stand firm. The away side’s frustration grew further when another Torres shot was charged down. Villa broke away with Benteke, Weimann and Agbonlahor combining but as the goal appeared to arrive, Benteke steered his shot narrowly wide.
Mourinho made a couple of changes. He took off Oscar and the woeful Torres. However, it was a decision made by referee Chris Foy that would make the ultimate difference. Willian was shown a second yellow card for a nudge on Delph as he ran at the Chelsea goal. Mourinho looked shocked and Chelsea now faced a tough test. Despite being town to ten men, they nearly had a great chance to pass that test when Andre Schurrle was brought down by Ron Vlaar right on the edge of the Villa box. Unfortunately for them, he was clearly outside. The situation did not need John Terry running fifty yards to protest.
Chelsea were then shocked to the core as Delph broke away, passing to Marc Albrighton who crossed for Delph, to deftly flick the ball past Cech for the winning goal in injury time. Cech deflected another effort from the outstanding Delph onto the bar before Ramires was given a straight red card for a truly terrible stamp. That was the cue for chaos on the touchline, as the Villa bench appeared to be very unhappy about the tackle, and protested as such. Mourinho was sent to the stands for coming onto the pitch.
It was a big loss for Chelsea. Maybe Jose is right, maybe it is Manchester City’s title to lose. His side certially did not look like Champions in this game.
Man Of The Match: Fabian Delph produced an outstanding display, full of energy, tackling, good positioning and leadership, as well as a great goal. He should be considered a late contender for the World Cup squad.7
Thanks for reading,