Aston Villa's ability to combine self-destructive tendencies with horrific luck reared its ugly head yet again on Saturday afternoon as Villa dropped to a 2-0 defeat against an uninspiring Chelsea side that didn't have to work for the three points at Stamford Bridge.
While Villa had some decent spells and created a few chances, the two Chelsea goals were reminiscent of many of the goals Villa have conceded this season; one was gift-wrapped on a platter for Diego Costa, and the other was a fluky deflection off Alan Hutton for an own goal.
In a match that never really boiled over and lacked flash points, there was still plenty of good and bad moments from the Aston Villa players to analyze. Here are the Villa player ratings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best:
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 2
I'm sorry that it's come to this, but Guzan needs to be dropped -- at least momentarily. For not the first time this year, the American inexplicably turned comfortable Villa possession into an easy goal for the other team. His decision to pass the ball with pace to an under-pressure Lescott defied logic or reason. That moment put Villa behind and killed the confidence of a team that was playing well and taking the game to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Enough is enough, Brad.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 5
The unlucky own goal aside, Hutton had a solid match with minimal errors and solid defending throughout. He had a few crossing chances that Villa fans will wish he could've done more with, but his work rate and energy helped him get into those positions. Also, as I saw a few fans point out during the match, Hutton's aerial presence in defending crosses is miles ahead of Leandro Bacuna, which is a big reason why the Scotland international deserves to keep his place in the side.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 5
Four interceptions and seven clearances from Richards as he played reasonably well. However, yet again it needs to be mentioned how Richards continues to pull himself out of position two or three times per match chasing pointless causes up the pitch. The best defenders in the world know that the real danger is usually behind them -- not ahead of them. Richards obviously has the physical traits to be great, but his reading of the game and decision-making can still improve.
CB: Joleon Lescott, Rating: 3
Dominated in the air with 6-for-6 in aerial duels and had a few nice blocks and interceptions, but Lescott continues to be error prone, as shown by his poor touch that allowed Chelsea to score any easy opener. The brunt of the blame goes mostly to Guzan for making a stupid and needless pass, but Lescott easily should've recognized the danger and played a one-touch pass back to Guzan or just straight out of play. No need to try to take a touch there.
LB: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 4
Typical Kieran Richardson performance at left back. Not terrible but not inspiring either. Richardson contributed here and there, and it wasn't really a shock to see him replace Jordan Amavi in the starting lineup with Villa needing an assured defensive performance in this match. But Richardson isn't -- and never has been -- a long-term answer at left back.
CDM: Ashley Westwood, Rating: 3
Westwood was really disappointing in this match. His 76-percent passing mark was the worst I can remember from the midfielder, and he set the tone early on for a sloppy Villa performance. Westwood poorly misplaced three passes in the first 15 minutes and never regained his confidence on the ball. For someone that is more of a tempo-setter than a play-maker in the Villa engine room, Westwood's role in the team doesn't allow for the type of lackadaisical play he showed on Saturday at times.
CDM: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Rating: 6
However, much of Westwood's struggles were covered up by a very impressive outing from his midfield partner. Gana thrived with 94-percent passing and added six interceptions and five tackles as he not only broke up Chelsea's play but also started some Villa attacking moves. I dare to say it was a Fabian Delph-like outing for the Senegalese midfielder, and one that shouldn't go unnoticed because of the errors of his teammates.
RW: Carles Gil, Rating: 4
Gil didn't do enough for me in this match, but he wasn't bad by any means. The Spaniard had some neat passes here, some nice touches there...but he never really threatened to open up the deep Chelsea defense. Gil was very bright in the opening half hour but tired and lost out far too many times on challenges in the second half before becoming completely anonymous -- other than his very poor corner kicks.
CAM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 4
It was a similar tale for Grealish, who started well and drifted away after Villa fell behind. He drew five fouls and completed four successful take-ons -- all in the first half -- before just disappearing in the entire second half. This has become a worrying trend for the talented Villa youngster, but hopefully it's something that can be resolved with more training and experience as he plays more in the Premier League.
RW: Jordan Ayew, Rating: 5
Ayew certainly looked better than his first couple matches in the league this season. He set up perhaps Villa's best chance with a nice run and cut back to Gestede towards the end of the first half. And the Ghanaian even defended pretty stoutly when it was required. But on the whole, in a match against the defending champions, Ayew had minimal opportunities to deliver on Saturday. He probably deserves another full run-out next week against Swansea.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 4
Gestede won 12 aerial duels, which was still less than he lost, but he struggled as a result of limited service at Chelsea. The striker had one good chance to score that he scooped over. He spent most of the match holding up the ball and letting Villa's midfielders run off him. It wasn't a concerning outing for the Villa striker by any means, but he needs to score his chances in matches like this -- and, at this point, all matches really -- to help his team get much-needed results this season.
LB: Jordan Amavi, Rating: 4
Didn't really have an impact after coming on. His crossing was unusually poor and he struggled to find space against a Chelsea defense content to sit back. Amavi should likely start next week in a must-win match for Villa against Swansea though.
RW: Adama Traore, Rating: 4
It's time to see whether Mr. Traore can cut it in the Premier League or whether he's just going to be an occasionally-used sub. He was again a mixture of exciting and selfish during his cameo on Saturday, but the explosive young winger needs to be given a full start in the league soon to truly see what he can do for 90 minutes.