Close only counts in horsehoes and possibly some other game that doesn't correspond to a cliche. Alas, it does not count in football and Aston Villa don't get any points for not losing 8-0 to Chelsea. There are some positives that can definitely be taken from this match, which Aaron will cover in greater depth when he writes the detailed match report, but for now, here's a quick summary of the Villa perspective:
Antonio Luna can add another goal to his tally; alas, this time it's an own goal. Just like on Saturday, Villa found themselves behind before ten minutes were up. A poor clearance gave Eden Hazard a chance to shoot, but Brad Guzan managed to beat the ball away. Unfortunately, it rebounded off Luna and into the back of the net.
Unlike last Saturday, Villa weren't able to pull themselves immediately together. Blame it on a Jose Mourinho team: their main goal was to play a bit of keep away. Each time Villa got into the final third, the organized Blues were able to quickly break down the attack. A lack of precision, too, meant the visitors looked not at all threatening.
And, of course, it wouldn't be a Villa match without the inevitable head injury to a center back. This time Ciaran Clark drew the short straw, his head getting slashed by Demba Ba's boot. Blood gushed everywhere and, with more than five minutes to go in the half, Paul Lambert had no choice but to replace him with Jores Okore.
Then, amazingly, incredibly, Villa scored just before the halftime whistle. Gabby Agbonlahor came to life, rushing down the left and managing to slip behind Branislav Ivanovic. Christian Benteke squeezed around John Terry, paused, composed himself and send in a controlled shot, sending it off the post and around Petr Cech.
That man is God, isn't he?
After the restart, Chelsea piled on the pressure, but somehow, the Aston Villa defense stood firm. It had a lot more to do with the protective band across the back line, however: Karim El Ahmadi, Ashley Westwood and Fabian Delph are looking solid, both individually and together, and it feels like we might be able to finally say Delph is playing like we'd always hoped.
Or it's possible I just jinxed it by saying that. Sorry guys!
Chelsea very nearly could've ended up in the same predicament as Arsenal, as Branislav Ivanovic elbowed Christian Benteke in the head. Kevin Friend decided to go with yellow, though, and then...yes. Yes of course. Chelsea had a corner and Ivanovic got his head on Frank Lampard's cross to put Chelsea ahead again. And then Ivanovic elbowed Benteke again, and this time, the Serbian got nothing. Sigh.
Andi Weimann very nearly managed to rescue a point with five minutes remaining, catching a pass from Benteke and striking on the half-volley. Unfortunately for us Villa fans, Cech managed a great save and...yeah. Then, deep into stoppage time, Terry raised his arm to block a header from Agbonlahor. Villa shouted for a penalty but alas, Friend appears to be fairweather, and nothing doing. Brad Guzan was booked after the whistle for complaining, by the way.
But let's not waste all our breath whining about the referee, ok? Villa didn't lose 8-0, we still have three points and our goal difference remains in the positive. So yay!