Wow. Just wow. The ending to this game typified the kind of late drama we see in the Premier League week in, week out, and it was an ecstatic start to this new year of football.
This season has been a roller coaster for both teams, most notably Carlo Ancelotti’s men. One win in seven since Ray Wilkin’s departure, these were looking like turbulent times at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea’s dismal form seemed to have been halted following their gritty 1-0 win over a high flying Bolton side but a late leveller from Irishman Ciaran Clark, shared the spoils. Gerard Houllier has been under pressure ever since he took the reign from northern Irishman Martin O’Neill. Aston Villa had laid 16th previous to this encounter, and showed determination and grit from the off as they looked to tackle Chelsea’s poor form and release a bit of pressure off under fire boss Houllier.
Aston Villa started the better of the two, and were unlucky not to go ahead as Chelsea continued to show that abysmal form that sees them trapped in 5th spot.
Unfortunately it was the Blues who took the lead through a controversial Frank Lampard penalty. Lampard had flicked a ball into the box and James Collins inadvertently used Florent Malouda as a climbing frame, before the Frenchman stumbled and fell over, leaving Lee Mason no choice but to award a penalty. Frank Lampard calmly stepped up and fired it past Friedel, who was having an excellent day at the office.
18 minutes later and the score was all squared. Hesitence in the Chelsea defence led to Essien taking out Nigel Reo Coker just inside the box. Ashley Young volunteered for the penalty and repeated Lampards penalty, placing it beyond Cech’s reach.
|Ashley Young Celebrates|
We reached half time with the scores level at 1-1 and miraculously there were six Aston Villa players on bookings. Two were for dissent, four for poor tackles, so the Villains had to be extra careful in the second half.
We had barely reached three minutes into the second half when Aston Villa took a surprise lead through Emile Heskey. Stewart Downing raced past Ashley Cole on the wing and floated in a deft ball, and Heskey met it, towering above Chelsea debutant Jerffery Bruma to head home and give Villa the slimmest of lead.
Cue the dominance from Chelsea, as Aston Villa decided to defend for the entirety of the second half. Chelsea’s top guns had been misfiring all day but that was all about to change in the 89th minute. A resilient Aston Villa defence was broken and Drogba was the perpetrator. Drogba pounced on a loose ball inside the ball, rounding the keeper and shooting between three Villa defenders to get Chelsea that much sought after equaliser, after Friedel had endured a wonderful afternoon prior to that second goal, saving well from Malouda and Kalou on separate occasions.
But it didn’t stop there. 5 minutes later Villa crumbled and Chelsea took the lead. Albrighton had lost the ball on the wing and Essien raced past him, delivering a cross that was met by the head of Drogba, which was saved well by Friedel. However, the ball found its way to captain John Terry, who side footed home, for what seemed a likely winner. Alas, it was far from over.
Villa, having been dominated by the Blues for the whole second half, had had barely a shot since Heskey’s goal, but an Albrighton cross made it’s way over to youngster Ciaran Clark who nodded home, stunning Stamford Bridge.
Lampard, Terry & Co. were flabbergasted and yearned for yet another goal but the Villains held out for a memorable draw, leaving Chelsea in 5th place, a point behind London rivals, Tottenham.