The return of the prodigal son made his mark on the league again after Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace on his second home debut against Aston Villa. Didier Drogba’s long-planned successor finally returned home to Stamford Bridge and in the making, reminded fans how it feels to have a world-class striker in the squad.
After a distressing two weeks without club football, Chelsea hosted Aston Villa in what was the Blues toughest opponent at home yet. Thomas Tuchel made heavy changes to the side after several first-team players returned to training only two days prior. Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and new loanee, Saul all started against Aston Villa. While the latter had a poor debut, Chelsea’s graduates played well in a very physical match against the West Midlands side. Despite many headlines being about Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League, nothing stopped Lukaku from making his own. The Belgian striker notched two world-class goals and was deemed “King of the Match” by the league. Mateo Kovačić also had an outstanding showing marking an assist and a rare goal to the scoresheet. Let us quickly brief the events that transpired in our victory this past afternoon at the Bridge.
With a quick moment of silence for those who perished at the tragic 9/11 events 20 years ago, Chelsea and Aston Villa kicked off the Blues fourth league fixture of the season. From the whistle, Villa started the match with a strong intent to pressure Chelsea on the ball. Many predicted that they would sit back and allow the home side time on the ball. That never happened. Throughout the 90 minutes, Chelsea truly never were in cruise control.
Saúl’s anticipated debut did not go as planned as he struggled in midfield. The intensity and rapid pace of the Premier League clearly got the better of the renowned Spanish midfielder and therefore taken off at half-time for Jorginho. The first goal came from deep in our half after Mateo Kovačić was able to break out of pressure and deliver a well-precise through ball to Romelu Lukaku. After Lukaku was to control the ball he then cut to his weaker right foot as the Villa defender was closing in and blasted the ball past Jed Steer for Chelsea’s first goal. The goal never deterred the visitors as it only enhanced their desire to equalize. For the rest of the half, Chelsea were on the backfoot due to Aston Villa relentless pressure up the field. Countless mistakes from the misfiring midfield allowed Dean Smith’s side various opportunities to attack in transition. Their physicality was getting the better of Tuchel’s players until the second half.
The ruthless but understandable substitution of Jorginho for Saúl helped Chelsea have a better tempo on the ball. The Italian regista gave Tuchel’s side a more calming presence in midfield but it wasn’t enough to discourage Villa’s aim for a goal. Despite their efforts, Edouard Mendy and co. held their ground. The backline was as resolute as ever, stopping and deflecting countless shots from the Villa attack. Just as Aston Villa were knocking on the door, Mateo Kovačić caught Tyrone Mings slipping and capitalized on a ghastly error by the English center-halve in the opening minutes of the second half. And Just like that, the Blues were 2-0 up.
Things got a little heated along the way as Villa got more and more frustrated as the match progressed. They recorded four yellow cards to Chelsea’s one. The last goal came in stoppage time as Lukaku was able to bury the ball from just inside the box. With this win, Chelsea currently sit second behind Manchester United for the time being. Even it wasn’t Chelsea’s best of games, the Blues leave the Bridge with three massive points which help keeps the momentum going towards Tuesday’s Champions League opening group fixture against the Russian side, Zenit. Without further ado, let us share the thoughts and reactions of our fellow writers on Chelsea’s 3-0 win against Aston Villa.
Vivek ( @CFCVivek_ )
Chelsea have tried a lot to replace Diego Costa and Didier Drogba in the past. What both men brought to the pitch made the team around them better when they would often score in moments when the team needed them to. This is the best way, to sum up, Romelu Lukaku’s performance last night who bagged a brace and also his first goals at Stamford Bridge in a game where Chelsea as a team didn’t have the best of games. This is the impact a world-class footballer can have on a team.
Mateo Kovacic among others had a stellar performance last night but it was one to forget for new man Saul Niguez who will definitely need time to settle into his new team. Thiago Silva Chalobah Rudiger and Mendy held the fort well when Villa looked like the more threatening team in the first half while Tuchel’s substitutions in the second half bringing in Jorginho and Azpilicueta restored a sense of control and calmness into the team. Overall a game with a mixed bag of performances but three very important points in the bag as we start our Champions League defense under the lights facing Zenit on Tuesday night.
Rey ( Rey_Blues30 )
Wow, what a game. Aston Villa gave us a game and we were lucky to come out unscathed. That luck was due to our resolute backline who made things tough for Aston Villa’s attackers. Edouard Mendy recorded six saves in the afternoon.
Villa were the most threatening in the latter parts of the first half but Chelsea was able to hold their ground well. My nerves were through the roof during that spell. I wasn’t expecting Saúl to have the sharpest of games but I didn’t expect him to have a mare in midfield. Hopefully, now he can learn from his mistakes and know that in the Premier League there are no extra seconds on the ball. The intensity and the pace definitely got to the Spaniard and it showed. His passes were awry in every direction and lost possession several times. Thankfully, for the sake of the team, he was subbed off at half-time. For the long term, I hope this was his one-off as we will need him to be sharp in the middle of the park.
Lukaku was brilliant in his two goals despite not having the best of service throughout the 90 minutes. What a way to return to the Bridge with two outstanding world-class goals. Kovacic was brilliant and probably could’ve had more assists if he was more precise in his passes. Nonetheless, the Croatian midfielder was by far the best player on the pitch. Now onto Zenit in the opening fixture in the Champions League! CMON YOU CHELS!
Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
We knew that Lukaku was good, really good, but perhaps nobody was ready for mentality impact he would have on this squad.
It is easy enough to imagine Chelsea playing this game this time a year ago and not only crumbling with inorganization and a lack of resilience, but also with the mentality frailties that were evident in the squad. Lukaku has effected that. He has now come back to Chelsea as a league winner and a truly world class striker, that helps everyone around him.
He only touched the ball 25 times, less than any other outfield player on the pitch, but his two goals helped Chelsea build a lead that edged them infront and then kill off a game and put some gloss on an otherwise unspectacular showing.
Chelsea’s ability to demonstrate another way to win against Aston Villa should prove scary for those around them, so far this season they have bulldozed Crystal Palace and Arsenal, fought doggedly, bravely and heroically with 10-men at Anfield and now battled through a tough encounter with a very organised Aston Villa. Winning ugly is important, but having the nature and maturity to get past opponents with a multitude of performances is perhaps even more important. Chelsea really do look like the real deal.
I think I need to add a new superlative to my lexicon: Lukaku. Two shots, two sumptuous goals. He score his first goal for Chelsea at Arsenal in the fifteenth minute. He scored his first goal at Stamford Bridge in the fifteenth minute. His hero, Didier Drogba, wore the number fifteen when he first joined Chelsea. A coincidence those statistics may be but it nonetheless adds a layer of beautiful poetry to Lukaku’s return to the club he has loved for so long.
Though there are so many player to talk about, I had to begin with Lukaku as he gives me that incomparable, excitable feeling I had when first watching my heroes like Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba as a young boy.
Regarding Chelsea’s performance on the day, it was clearly not indicative of the scoreline. The scoreline was rather emphatic, the performance was not. But that’s less down to Chelsea and more down to the quality shown by Aston Villa on the day. Dean Smith’s side were unrelenting in their treatement of Saúl and Kovacic, constantly bypassing them cleverly. This will stand as a warning to Tuchel going forward that there needs to be a level of security in midfield to cope with energy, pressing ability and a three-man midfield.
Saúl had a difficult afternoon but needs to be given time to acclimatise to the rigours of the league. Aside from Lukaku, Kovacic was absolutely brilliant going forward and, aside from his defensive lapses, provided the desired momentum for Chelsea’s attacks. Thiago Silva’s heroic block reminded me of John Terry. Trevoh Chalobah was outstanding and looked like he hadn’t missed two games at all. Similarly, I thought Callum Hudson-Odoi had a good game even if he was rather ponderous in the final third. His directness is always very refreshing.
It’s a very rewarding period to be a Chelsea fan and Thomas Tuchel has the team playing excellently even if we were below par yesterday. There;s a lot to be happy about and I look forward to the next matches!
Written by Rey, Tom, Dan and Vivek
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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