As Villa supporters, at least in the modern era, we aren’t inclined to be overly positive about the festive period. Further, our historic form at Stamford Bridge was dismal. However, once again Dean Smith’s side have made us sit up and realise just what potential it holds.
This was arguably one of Villa’s most impressive performances of a campaign that continues to deliver pleasing results.
Yes, the routing of Liverpool was a joy. Victories over Leicester and Arsenal excellent too. This away draw demonstrated the resilience of a Villa side to run one of the best resourced sides in the division close and without the benefit of strength in depth for rotation.
This was another stoic display that saw Ollie Watkins run tirelessly, John McGinn crashing a long range effort against the bar and Konsa/Hause providing reassurance that we can defend without Mings.
The only momentary blip came for Chelsea’s opener, with the otherwise impressive Bertrand Traore failing to shoulder his burden of defensive duties, with Matty Cash out-numbered.
The resulting cross was headed home with pin-point accuracy by the classy Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman has bagged nine goals in his last seven outings against us.
Villa sides of old (and more recently) would have folded. Instead, we picked up where we left off, with El Ghazi persistent and Grealish eager to drive the play on. Martinez also found himself under more pressure than normal, but underlined his qualities, plucking a number of dangerous balls from the icy sky.
El Ghazi was duly rewarded for his efforts, scoring a volleyed equaliser in the second half. The Dutchman is totally reborn and now has five goals in his last five appearances.
There was a late scare, with Ben Chilwell seeing a technically perfect effort sail just wide of Martinez’s post. That aside, this was a battling, determined and stoic display from Villa, who completely deserved the point at Stamford Bridge.
The games come thick and fast at this time of year and a trip to Old Trafford looms large on New Years Day.
EL GHAZI GOAL
Anwar El Ghazi scores Villa’s equaliser at Stamford Bridge:
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Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa
Villa battled hard in a determined display at Stamford Bridge that ended 1-1. The result lifts Dean Smith’s side to fifth in the Premier League.