Since the turn of the millennium, Chelsea have won more domestic titles than any other English club, as overseen by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Gifting Villa four more signings at the start of Abramovich’s second decade in charge, the tables have dramatically turned.
In a past transfer market few and far between, Aston Villa shipped out both Tony Dorigo, George Graham, Tony Hateley and John Phillips to the Blues over the course of 23 years, from 19964 to the late 80’s. It was an era of respective domination for Villa in stark comparison to Chelsea who for flirted with the second division for half of Villa’s successful decades at the top.
A couple of Division 1 titles, League Cups and a European Cup was the collection Villa amassed before Chelsea more recently caught up with their then second city idols.
Loan deals for Ryan Bertrand and Tammy Abraham were fed to Villa in their desperate years of need. We all know football can change very quickly but the difference in 50 years between Villa and Chelsea could not have been clearer.
A £5 million deal to replace Gareth Barry with Steve Sidwell was a sign of things to come for Villa, who would embark on unprecedented years of misery and pain. Chelsea would claim their own Champions League title four years after shipping out their midfield flop.
Ryan Bertrand started in Chelsea’s very own European win against German giants Bayern Munich before signing on at Villa Park on loan for a year, months after dominating Arjen Robben at the Allianz.
It was the deal everyone wanted, a goalscorer to kick start a season that promised so much after NSWE took control of the club in 2018. Tammy Abraham. The man who was guaranteed 25 vital goals in a league he ripped up for fun. Dean Smith knew he was onto a losing battle to take Tammy back after reaching promotion, but keeping hold of the striker in the midst of a few turbulent winter months last year under the nose of our noisy neighbours was golden.
It’s taken a while but here he is.
JT. Captain, leader, Villan.
It wasn’t to be for JT as he laced up his Nike Magista’s for the final time in an unrivalled career that spanned over 20 years. Wembley heartache was the tonic for such a character to come back one better next year as he begins a new chapter in management.
It’ll no doubt be an emotional return for Terry who won 18 titles with the Blues. An extraordinary return for a footballer who lead his first club though two decades of Premier League and Champions League football.
Terry’s partner throughout the primer of the former Villa centre half’s years was indeed that… a former Villa centre half, and an underrated and undervalued one at that. It was Martin O’Neill that released Gary Cahill to Bolton before four years later signing on the dotted line for Chelsea.
Cahill made just 28 appearances for Villa, but then went on to make almost seven times more for Chelsea, scoring on 13 occasions. Though the one goal he got for Villa was worth more than any other, acrobatically winning the second city almost 13 years ago.
Carlton Cole and Andy Townsend made up the six players that have direct made the switch from the Bridge to Villa Park.
Six loan moves after Chelsea gave Scott Sinclair the platform to professional stardom, the current Celtic winger left for Swansea before eventually joining Paul Lambert’s Villa on loan in 2014. With a view to a permanent move, Sinclair rarely settled at one club, but he made his impact at Villa guiding them to an FA Cup final after West Brom were swept away under the Villa Park lights.
Another well travelled pro, Joe Cole was seemingly bound to cross the to second city, capital borders at some stage. Whilst his involvement on the pitch was limited at Villa, his experience off it was another learning experience for current star Jack Grealish as he made his first steps in Premier League football.
Villa’s relegation struggles could well have been the making of Grealish, according to the his battle-hardened mentor. The then 33-year-old midfielder saw enough in a young Grealish to predict a stellar future for the now Villa skipper.
Looking to continue his goalscoring from against Chelsea, Grealish will lead Villa out at Stamford Bridge tonight.