Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea: 5 Things Blues Fans Learned as we are Saved by the Bale

In a match of the utmost importance, Chelsea failed to do it their own way against Aston Villa and lost away 2-1. The Blues were down 2-0 and their Champions League spot for next year seemed to have slipped away. Although Ben Chilwell pulled one back from an assist by Christian Pulisic, it was not enough to get any points form this match. Too little too late.

But, thanks to Spurs (yes, you read that right) winning at Leicester City in dramatic fashion from a late brace by Gareth Bale, Chelsea finished in fourth place and secured Champions League football for 2021/2022. Here are the five things Blues fans have learned.

Top four is secured despite poor Aston Villa result

Despite the uninspiring performance, Chelsea clawed themselves over the line and finished in fourth place. Has getting there ever felt like less of an achievement? All credit has to go to Thomas Tuchel for his part in rescuing a season that was once in dire straits. It may feel like Chelsea limped their way into the fourth spot, and some may even suggest that Chelsea are not deserving of getting that place because they did not win on the final day. But, this is not a playoff system. This is a points system based on a collective body of work over a 9 month, 38 game period. Whoever finishes wherever at 38 games is more than deserving of their final spot. It may feel like Chelsea some had a fluke to get there, but that discredits all that was done in key portions of the season against top level competition from elite clubs, as well as overly credits the collapse that Leicester City suffered to end the season.

The Foxes lost to Newcastle, Chelsea, and Spurs to end their season and firmly lost out on the top four finish because they could not handle their business. Despite Chelsea losing two of their final three league games, Chelsea better handled their matches and positioned themselves to be able to afford to drop points and still get fourth place. If Chelsea fluked their then it equally applies that the same reasoning should be used for Liverpool, Leicester, etc on their final league position. A club does not fluke a final league standing over 38 matches, so all credit needs to be given to Chelsea for this achievement from a standpoint where the top four once looked like mission impossible. There is a much larger picture to the season now despite losing on the final day. Enjoy Champions League football next year and move on with it.

Ben Chilwell scored Chelsea's only goal of the game against Aston Villa.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Ben Chilwell scored Chelsea’s only goal of the game against Aston Villa. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Blues suffer collective issues again

Chelsea displayed many collective issues again at Villa Park. The defense again seems to be the strength of the team despite conceding two goals to Aston Villa, although one of which was a penalty kick. The collective issues showed themselves in the form of the midfield and the attack, but mostly in attack.

The lack of a physical presence in the centre of the pitch has become a major issue for a team that cannot break down low blocks and is hit by counter attacks left, right, and centre. However, despite this concern, the most glaring concern is the mishmash of individuals who all have similar profiles or limited profiles in attack. The consistency is the issue with the attackers, and how Tuchel begins to solve this issue becomes an increasingly larger enigma each successive match post-Madrid.

Fans may want to point to blame one or two players in attack but the truth is that the collective fit and function of the attack is not cohesive. This includes everyone’s role. Collectively, much more is required from a standard output involving goals. Jorginho was the leading scorer in the Premier League for Chelsea. Kurt Zouma has hardly played for months and is barely trailing Timo Werner for goals scored. That is frankly a damning statistic and points to the issue not being one player in attack, but points to a collective issue. However, fans seem to not want to engage in that discussion and instead focus on one player. The path of least resistance is usually the easiest to take from an argument perspective, and the Chelsea online fanbase is making this quite obvious in their analysis of the issues in attack.

The squad needs to show more composure

One sticking point during the Aston Villa match was how the squad responded to going 1-0 down on the scoreboard. The players began to seem angry but in a bad way. The response was to get more chippy, complain, commit bad fouls, and receive bookings. This was objectively a poor response and this is what many fans may want to see change. The dropping of the heads at 1-0 down should not be happening when there are 65 minutes left to play in a crucial match. Instead, that anger needs to be better channeled into motivation to win matches. This was personified with Cesar Azpilicueta getting a red card later in the second half as Chelsea were chasing the match. Although it shows fight and bitterness of how the result was going, it shows that it is not being used appropriately.

Overall, there is a trend for this to happen where the squad seems to not be up for clawing back results once they begin to go south. Whatever the reason, it is a far cry from the past years and legends the club once had. Not every team is the same and it is futile to expect that to be the case, but overall more fiery emotion in the right ways needs to be exerted before, during, and after the Champions League Final if this group wants to put the past behind them and lift a trophy on May 29 and furthermore into the future.

Chelsea need to find a Champions League level

The Chelsea squad was in electric form leading up to and slightly after the Real Madrid ties in the Champions League Semifinal. That seems like months ago now. The form has drastically declined, mostly underpinned by the collective issues in attack that were previously discussed.

If Chelsea aspire to lift the European trophy in the near future they must begin to rediscover what they once had. However that is accomplished is irrelevant, but it must be accomplished nonetheless. This squad know they can beat Manchester City. They have done it the past two meetings against City, both of which were not played at Stamford Bridge. This squad knows they can take it to the best of teams. This squad knows they can score goals and have a defensive backline made of steel. But that seems to have massively faded in recent matches and Tuchel must conjure up all the inner belief and tactical prowess he can to ignite that brilliant form once more before the match on May 29, 2021.

Being the underdog has always seemed to suit Chelsea well. There is no reason to believe that will suddenly change before the Champions League Final.

Last time out against Manchester City. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Marcos Alonso claimed Chelsea’s winner against Manchester City. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Player FC and abuse reaching new lows following loss to Aston Villa

One thing we absolutely learned, if you go online to interact with fans after the Aston Villa match, is how depressing the level of “support” has become for the club we all purport to support. Players were abused, agendas were pushed because of a bad performance, individual players were dug out, the mentality of the squad was questioned and worst of all, Jorginho received many death threats on his Instagram post after the match. If you do any of this, I have to ask: are you a supporter of Chelsea FC or just a consumer looking to pick and choose were your metaphorical dollar of support goes? Is it impossible to critique in isolation these days? Is it impossible to say a player had a bad game and end it there? Or is that just not rational enough and violates the online trend of trying to push falsities for attention? Quite frankly, it is sickening. It is embarrassing. It is shameful. If you play a sport with other teammates, I sincerely hope the way these “fans” interact online to their own club’s players having a bad day is not the same way they interact on the pitch when one of their teammates is struggling.

The point trying to be made is that the virus of Player FC supporters has infected many and spread its toxic effect among much too many fans. We can all do better and should do better. Call what I am writing high and mighty, but I will agree to disagree. I have seen enough to know that Chelsea fans should learn after yesterday that I am not being high and mighty, but instead asking for a better collective standard for behavior, especially as the club and all of its players are about to enter their biggest match in the last nine years of Chelsea’s history. Being kind cost nothing, but there is a personal cost to abuse and death threats. Imagine being Jorginho and waking up to see the people who claim to support the club are wishing you dead? Miss me with all of that: enough is enough. Call it out if you see it because the standard for support is currently at morally appalling levels.

Written by Travis Flock (@Crossroads_CFC)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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