Cobham Commutes #8: Return of Romelu as Blues beat Aston Villa

In this series, I review my in-ground experience throughout the season, this time for Aston Villa away. It’s split into two columns, one for home games and the other for away days. I run through various topics from atmosphere to a overall match review and give my thoughts on the stadiums that I visitg

Journey to the game: Aston Villa away at Villa park

This was my first away day ever as a Chelsea fan which meant I was visiting a stadium other than Stamford Bridge. Having been to Stamford Bridge via coach and underground countless times over the years, yesterdays journey took a lot less time as the journey from home only took around two hours in car as I was then dropped off a few minutes way from the stadium.

Obviously the roads outside near the stadium are blocked off after games, which meant I had to walk for around 10 minutes to meet my parents who were outside in a car park. Overall, getting to the stadium and out of the stadium was fairly quick despite all the traffic. Wasn’t bad as I first expected.

Stadium Summary

I personally think the quality of Villa Park in and around the stadium was quite average, as expected. It was crammed and tightly parked once I’d got through the turnstiles and through to the concourse. But as we know, Villa Park holds a lot of tradition and history. However to me, it just felt like I was at another ordinary stadium.

I also saw a few Chelsea fans on social media a few days before the game mocking the stadium in terms of the quality. We know it isn’t a stadium that is modernly built in comparison to Spurs’ new ground or Brentford’s stadium but the quality really wasn’t great when I was walking around it. Maybe it’s harsh, but it did look like a Championship type stadium. I am quite surprised they haven’t refurbished/redecorated it in all honesty when you consider the quality of other stadiums in the Premier League and the money that they have.

Moving onto my seat, it was an amazing view. I was lucky to actually get two tickets where I was set next to my brother. The view was amazing. I got the perfect view of both ends of the pitch despite the away end being placed to the right corner of the stadium, known as the ’Doug Ellis Stand’. I was sat in the Upper Tier. The atmosphere was still great as was the view of the whole pitch in seeing all the action.

My view at Villa Park for Aston Villa Vs Chelsea
My view at Villa Park for Aston Villa Vs Chelsea

Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: Match Review

It was another one of those games where Chelsea were very slow in getting out the blocks and stamping our authority early in the game. It seems as if Thomas Tuchel’s team wait to go a goal down before deciding to actually play with intensity and purpose.

Aston Villa were creating better quality of chances in the opening half hour. Their goal also came from a Reece James own goal which really annoyed me. It was a pretty silly goal to concede and Chelsea were a bit lucky to have not conceded another if it wasn’t for Edouard Mendy coming out of his area to sweep up.

We did begin to turn up the pressure after we’d gone a goal down. I could see patterns of play beginning to evolve with huge emphasis on our wingbacks to get high and wide to get crosses in but it just wasn’t working. Especially with Pulisic playing as a false 9, it just wasn’t right. He was rarely involved in approach play and it was something that I always thought would have to change if we were to win this game.

But that being said, our lack of intensity wasn’t purely a tactical issue of playing Pulisic at false 9. As soon as Lukaku was brought on in the second-half, we played with a lot more directness and our ball retention was also a lot better. I ask myself why we couldn’t play like that in the first half. We went with Pulisic as false 9 against Juventus when we won 4-0 and he was faultless so I think it was also sloppiness and a lack of intensity playing a part much at fault as Pulisic playing at false 9.

But Lukaku coming on just changed the game. It definitely lifted the players around him. He was running in behind, coming short to help out defensively in transitions. But his movement for his goal and then the run leading up to the penalty was just bullish. His physical attributes to bully defenders is something that we’ve not had since the days of Diego Costa. He showed again yesterday why football fans and in particular, Chelsea fans, should never doubt his ability to produce when it matters.

Chelsea fans celebrating as Jorginho scores his 2nd penalty of the night and celebrates with the travelling fans.

Things you don’t see and hear on TV

It was a brilliant atmosphere. An atmosphere so good to the point where I couldn’t really hear Villa fans throughout most of the game. I watched the game back earlier on TV and noticed a lot more noise from the Villa fans. I don’t know whether that’s due to where they place the speakers but from where I was sat, it was electric.

We went through the whole playlist of chants going from ’Oh Roman do you know what’s worth’ to ‘Celery, celery, if you don’t’…you know the rest.

We also showed our support for Frank Lampard as we always ever do singing ’Super Frank’ at times throughout the game.

The most enjoyable one was about Gerrard, chanting ‘he gave it to Demba Ba, Steve Gerrard, Gerrard.’

For many years, I’ve always wanted to go to an away game. I’ve heard a lot about how good Chelsea fans are especially away from home and I can definitely say it lived up to the hype. It was incredible.

Written by Vikram Jajuha (@CFCVik)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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