Sat 11 May 2013 12:45 (Attendance: 42,084)
The final Saturday game of the season is nearly upon us. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton take a close look at a meeting in the Midlands with high value for both sides…
The disappointing draw with Tottenham preserved our proud unbeaten home record against them, stretching back to 1990, but handed our other London rivals Arsenal a Champions League lifeline.
The Blues require three points from the remaining six available at Aston Villa this weekend and home to Everton next to secure a top-four finish. On Sunday Spurs travel to Stoke, where they lost twice last season in league and cup.
Arsenal were beaten 1-2 when Wigan last paid a visit but the endangered Latics have injury blows and an FA Cup final to navigate before that Tuesday meeting.
Villa are five points clear of Roberto Martinez's side but with a similarly poor goal difference (thanks largely to Chelsea) and the two clubs face each other on the last day of the season.
Martinez is the bookmakers' favourite to replace Manchester-bound David Moyes at Goodison; Everton are the Blues' final visitors of the season.
The race for the Champions League - Games remaining
|Aston Villa (a)||Wigan (h)||Stoke (a)|
|Everton (h)||Newcastle (a)||Sunderland (h)|
A win against Spurs would have allowed the Blues to relax a little ahead of next Wednesday's Europa League final. Our opponents in Amsterdam, Benfica, now find themselves in the same boat this weekend.
Having drawn at home to Estoril the Eagles are two points ahead of deadly rivals Porto at the top of the SuperLiga, with a visit to the Estádio do Dragão on Saturday. With one more league game to play after that Benfica dare not lose and will have to field a full-strength side.
The youngsters of Chelsea and Villa met on the banks of Lake Como back in April in the NextGen final for U19s. The Villans, coached by 1980s Blues midfielder Tony McAndrew, survived the Londoners' waves of pacy but profligate attacking to win 2-0 with two second-half penalties.
The Midlanders' roller-coaster first team season - they are still not quite mathematically safe from relegation - has been ascribed in part to them depending on a large number of inexperienced players.
Yet their NextGen success and a run of five wins from their last eight matches suggests that the investment in youth at every level may be fruitful. It did not look that way in December when they shipped 15 goals in three Premier League games without replying.
The first in that sequence was, of course, the 8-0 (EIGHT, for Teleprinter fans) defeat at Stamford Bridge (pictured below), which set a club record for Chelsea of seven different goalscorers. The game also featured seven of the same Villans involved in their recent 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland.
The definition of young is sometimes arbitrarily applied in football. There are no teenagers in that Villa septet of Baker, Bennett, Benteke, Guzan, Lowton, Weimann and Westwood.
The majority are 22 or 23 - the same age as César Azpilicueta, Ryan Bertrand, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses. Weimann is youngest at 21, the same as Oscar and Oriol Romeu. Rarely are Chelsea's players afforded the same indulgence for youthfulness as Villa's.
An era ended in English football this week. Fifteen different Chelsea managers locked horns with Sir Alex Ferguson over his 26 hugely successful years at Old Trafford:
Hollins, Campbell, Porterfield, Webb, Hoddle, Gullit, Vialli, Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo and Benitez.
No other opposition manager has faced Chelsea anywhere near as many times.
|Chelsea's record against Sir Alex Ferguson's teams|
We faced Ferguson's United in two semi-finals, losing in the 1996 FA Cup but delivering his first ever loss at that stage of a domestic competition in the 2004/05 League Cup.
We met in three finals: the FA Cup in 1994 and 2007, and the 2008 UEFA Champions League. Of the four penalty shoot-outs endured, Chelsea won one and Manchester United three.
He was often generous about Chelsea and the Blues will be the last team Ferguson lost to in the Community Shield, League Cup, FA Cup and, quite possibly, the Premier League, thanks to Juan Mata last weekend.
The Blues stretched our lead over other clubs for most wins against Manchester United in the Premier League. We now have 14 victories, 57 points and 56 goals against the Red Devils - all more than any rival.
The Pensioners have left Old Trafford with 25 points and six wins in the Premier League era, again the best record of any visiting team.
By small coincidence the first Chelsea player to score against a Ferguson side in February 1987 was a Hazard - but an English Micky, not a Belgian Eden.
That game followed a 1-0 win at Old Trafford that hastened the departure of Ferguson's predecessor, Ron Atkinson. United finished the season just four points ahead of the Blues and Ferguson was under pressure to deliver success.
In February 1990 when the Blues earned a 1-0 home victory to go sixth, it left United languishing in 15th position. The manager's future was secured that season by lifting the FA Cup.
Since then Ferguson has proved an anomaly: the unique example that longevity in the hotseat can deliver repeated success. Chelsea FC has wished him a happy and healthy retirement. United and football may never see his like again.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa v Chelsea 12.45pm Sky Sports
Stoke v Tottenham 1.30pm Sky Sports
Everton v West Ham 3pm
Fulham v Liverpool 3pm
Norwich v West Brom 3pm
QPR v Newcastle 3pm
Sunderland v Southampton 3pm
Manchester United v Swansea 4pm Sky Sports
Arsenal v Wigan 7.45pm Sky Sports
Reading v Manchester City 8pm Sky Sports
We are now just one short of the all-time goals tally in one season, set in the 2009/10 Double season under manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Most Chelsea goals in a season
142 in 2009/10
141 in 2012/13
121 in 1964/65
117 in 1960/61 and 2006/07
112 in 2011/12
110 in 2008/09
|Barclays Premier League table|
|Fear of the drop|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Robin van Persie 25
Luis Suarez 23
Gareth Bale 20
Christian Benteke 18
Demba Ba 15
Rickie Lambert 14
Romelu Lukaku 14
Dimitar Berbatov 13
Eden Džeko 13
Frank Lampard 13
Theo Walcott 13
The race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Joe Hart 17
Petr Cech 14
Pepe Reina 13
Asmir Begovic 12
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Who wants the points most? Aston Villa and Chelsea need them for very different reasons. Former Blue Clive Walker ponders what will decide their final destination.
'As a result of the draw against Tottenham, Chelsea are less able to rest players ahead of next Wednesday's Europa League final having not already secured the top-four place.
'So we have to play the best team we possibly can to assure that Champions League qualification and hope everyone is fit again to travel out to Amsterdam. Luckily Benfica are in a pile of difficult fixtures too.
'Against Tottenham midweek there may have been some signs of tiredness in a number of our players for the first time in a while. Regarding rotation it is now about those who have and haven't played too many games.
'Rafael Benitez has already announced Frank Lampard will return to the fray at Villa. He has a terrific scoring record against them - 12 goals for Chelsea - and they haven't kept a clean sheet in 20 league games. Frank is also one of those so experienced at closing out matches and finals at this end of the season.
'The reverse fixture this season was 8-0 to Chelsea. That will have hurt Villa and a scoreline like that can scar players for a while. They won't be looking forward to it but will want to put it right. However they need to strike a fine balance as they're still not safe and know better than most what we can do.
'They have improved a lot in recent weeks without really hurting a top side. It's difficult when you're a youthful team growing up in public. They've often played well for periods in games before losing their way.
'Chelsea have several youngsters the same age but we have a winning formula and they're alongside players who are very experienced. So there's that balance which is easier to assimilate into when you're starting out.
'The key to the revival Villa have had has been the form of their three frontmen. He gets caught offside more than anyone but Christian Benteke has continued to score goals and Gabriel Agbonlahor has come back to being the force he was a while back. I've always liked Andreas Weimann (pictured below), right from seeing him in their youth team.
'However they can often play as individuals rather than a threesome - there's not a great deal of chemistry or interaction between them. They're about pace and power, with the ball supplied from deep, often by Ashley Westwood in the holding role. They are always looking to play it to Benteke's feet or to the other two down the channels.
'They play 4-3-3 and are quite fixed in their roles, whereas some sides are far more fluid. They move forward in waves and can get stretched when they lose possession, trying to get back in position. Chelsea can be deadly in those situations.
'Villa's is a back four still trying to gel and maybe lacking a leader who will take responsibility. Chelsea have players who can exploit that but need to efficient in front of goal.
'We will be looking to profit at corners where they seem to concede quite a lot. Experience tells in those situations. We've seen Lampard and Juan Mata take well-worked corners and there's a communication with teammates - movement, blocking runs in the box etc - that maybe some youngsters have not come up against before. We were very dangerous at corners against Tottenham.
'The Villa midfield and defence often leave room for the opposition - as was the case in the 3-0 defeat at Man United - but right-back Matt Lowton is a player who has gradually found his way. He's a talent and had played every minute until he was substituted in the win at Norwich last weekend with a thigh injury, but they are hoping he may return.
'On a personal note I'd like to wish Stiliyan Petrov all the best on his retirement from playing and in his battle with acute leukaemia. I feel for him having to retire, especially the manner of it, but he's had a good career and is in remission - long may that continue.'
For Villa, Matthew Lowton faces a late test on his thigh. Defender Ciaran Clark (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (thigh) remain unavailable.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Last season's 4-2 victory at Villa Park was only our second there in 13 attempts - 14 if you include the League Cup tie in 2003. The other was a 1-0 victory in Guus Hiddink's first match in charge in February 2009.
Chelsea's most successful sequence at Villa Park was in the Nineties, when four successive wins were registered in the second half of the decade.
A few years earlier, on 2 September 1992, Ian Porterfield stewarded the Blues to a fine 3-1 victory in the Midlands over Ron Atkinson's side.
Kevin Richardson opened the scoring for the Villans after half an hour but Chelsea clicked soon after and to such an extent that £2.1m striker Robert Fleck poached his first goal for the Blues five minutes before half-time (pictured below). Two minutes later young midfielder Eddie Newton gave the Londoners the lead - his second in two league games - after a one-two with Fleck.
Within 15 minutes of the restart Fleck and Newton again combined to provide an opportunity for Vinnie Jones. His shot rebounded to Dennis Wise, who drilled the ball under Nigel Spink to complete a 3-1 win.
Our last 10 league meetings at Villa Park
2002/03 - Villa won 2-1
2003/04 - Villa won 3-2
2004/05 - Drew 0-0
2005/06 - Drew 1-1
2006/07 - Drew 0-0
2007/08 - Villa won 2-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 1-0
2009/10 - Villa won 2-1
2010/11 - Drew 0-0
2011/12 - Chelsea won 4-2
The reverse fixture this season
23 December 2012 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea..……..….…8 Aston Villa….……..……0
D Luiz 28
Ramires 75, 90+1
Oscar 78 pen
Chelsea v Aston Villa in all competitions
Games played 145
Chelsea wins 55
Villa wins 56
Head to head in the league at Villa Park
Games played 65
Chelsea wins 15
Villa wins 31
Biggest league win at Villa Park for each team
15/04/1952 - Aston Villa 7-1 Chelsea
17/09/1966 - Aston Villa 2-6 Chelsea
Chelsea failed to score in the Premier League: 76
Aston Villa kept a Premier League clean sheet: 154
Liverpool won the league: 8,407
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,912
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.
Chelsea have lost one of our last nine Barclays Premier League games.
The Blues have opened the scoring in 25 Premier League matches which is higher than any other club. We have gone on to win 18 games and draw six. Only West Ham have defeated us.
The Blues are 11 points better off compared to the corresponding 36 fixtures last season.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term. We have dropped 18 points from winning positions
We have dropped eight points in the Premier League this season from the 85th minute onwards (Swansea away, West Ham away, Reading away, Newcastle away and Liverpool away).
|Last six results|
|Apr 21||Liverpool (a)||D 2-2|
|Apr 25||Basel (Europa League a)||W 2-1|
|Apr 28||Swansea (h)||W 2-0|
|May 2||Basel (Europa League h)||W 3-1|
|May 5||Manchester United (a)||W 1-0|
|May 8||Tottenham (h)||D 2-2|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 13 (5 pens), Mata 11, Hazard 9 (2 pens), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 5, Ramires 5, Oscar 4 (1 pen), Terry 4, Ba 2, Cahill 2, D Luiz 2, Cole 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Sturridge 1, own goals 3. Total 71
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 1
An away defeat: 3
ASTON VILLA STATS
7 League championships, last in 1981
1 European Cup in 1982
1 UEFA Super Cup in 1982
7 FA Cups, last in 1957
5 League Cups, last in 1996
1 shared Charity Shield in 1981
Aston Villa's best season in the Premier League was runners-up in 1992/93 with 74 points, 10 behind champions Man Utd and two above third placed Norwich.
At home this term they have won 20 points from a possible 54 with five wins against Swansea, Reading, West Ham, QPR and Sunderland, five draws with West Brom, Norwich, Arsenal, Stoke and Fulham and eight defeats to Everton, Man Utd, Tottenham, Wigan, Southampton, Newcastle, Man City and Liverpool.
Villa are in their best form of the season winning five of their last eight games.
Aston Villa have not kept a clean sheet since the goalless draw with Stoke on 8 December, 21 Premier League games ago. It is the longest current run in the top flight.
Manager Paul Lambert
Days in charge: 343
|Villa's last 10 year Premier League history|
|Last six results|
|Mar 31||Liverpool (h)||L 1-2|
|Apr 6||Stoke (a)||W 3-1|
|Apr 13||Fulham (h)||D 1-1|
|Apr 22||Man Utd (a)||L 0-3|
|Apr 29||Sunderland (h)||W 6-1|
|May 4||Norwich (a)||W 2-1|
Premier League scorers
Benteke 18 (3 pens), Agbonlahor 9, Weimann 7, Bent 2, Lowton 2, N'Zogbia 2, Clark 1, El Ahmadi 1, Holman 1, Vlaar 1. Total 44.
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 2
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Lee Mason is refereeing his fourth Chelsea game of the season. The others were the 4-2 win against Reading in August, the 5-4 League Cup match against Manchester United and our 0-1 defeat to QPR all at Stamford Bridge.
There are no suspensions
Chelsea effectively sealed a top-four finish for the season and Frank Lampard made history in a dramatic game at Villa Park.
The Blues came back from conceding early on and going down to 10 men, the vice-captain netting twice in the second half to pass Bobby Tambling and reach 203 Chelsea goals - the all-time club record
The goals were fitting ones to reach such a milestone - a trademark, unstoppable smash followed by a right-place-at-the-right-time tap-in.
Both teams had a player sent-off - Ramires and Christian Benteke committing second bookable offences, both foot-high challenges, with the Chelsea midfielder dismissed just before the interval and the Villa striker midway through the second-half.
Chelsea were also denied a goal by a debatable goal-line decision but the two were enough to ensure that with our much superior goal difference, Tottenham are unlikely to overtake us in the table.
Villa were forced in to one change. Right-back Matthew Lowton failed a late fitness test so missed his first game of the season. His replacement was Eric Lichaj.
For the second game running the potential reward was the same - Champions League football next season - but it became clear early on that it was not going to be an easy final away league match of the season.
It didn't feel like May in the Midlands with drizzle falling on a cool early afternoon as the players exited a tunnel located in one corner at this stadium, and there was plenty of surface water as the game kicked off.
A couple of crisp tackles were engaged before Nathan Baker's third-minute scissor challenge on Juan Mata on halfway that earned Villa an early booking.
Agbonlahor tried to take on Terry with his first counter-attacking run but the Chelsea skipper read the situation and blocked off to earn his side a goal-kick.
Villa, though seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages, were finding it hard to play out of their own half without making unforced or pressured mistakes. Chelsea's early attacking threat was limited to a testing Hazard cross.
When the home side did take the lead on 14 minutes there were shades of the goal Emmanuel Adebayor had been allowed to score for Spurs midweek. Given the ball by Fabian Delph, Christian Benteke was allowed to run along way on the left-side of the pitch. There was no long-range shot this time. Instead the Belgian took on Gary Cahill and found the space for a shot that beat Cech just inside the near post.
Ramires was booked soon after for a foul on Benteke and Delph then skipped away from a challenge from the Brazilian and sent a shot skipping off the roof of the net. Chelsea needed to raise our game quickly.
Midway through the half Mata chipped one of his typical balls over the defence that Ba managed to bring down but found Brad Guzan right up upon him, allowing the keeper to block the shot.
There was hope for Chelsea in that Villa were looking to have a goal-costing mistake in them, and such sloppiness around their area led to Hazard winning a free-kick. This was Lampard territory and his low shot was initially parried by Guzan but rolled onto the post. The keeper recovered just in time to stop Cahill following up.
Azpilicueta was on the painful end of a swung arm from Benteke that earned another yellow card. Despite the Villa fans' protestations, it was an offence that on occasions would have been punished with a red.
The cards were coming thick and fast now, Terry the next recipient of a booking for tripping Yacouba Sylla who had just taken the ball off Ramires.
A minute before the break came the one that made the afternoon's task a whole lot harder. Ramires was whistled up for a boot-high challenge on Agbonlahor in the centre of the park and this booking was his second of the game.
The next 45 minutes for a now 10-man Chelsea would need a far better display than the first half if we were to seal the top-four finish before the final day of the season.
Rafael Benitez made a half-time change. David Luiz came on in midfield with Moses off and Mata moving wide. The shape was pretty much 4-4-1.
There were going to be spaces for Villa to sit back and counter-attack this half, as Agbonlahor demonstrated early on until Cahill eventually cut out a cross.
Weimann kicked air when well-placed to test Cech and Delph and Agbonlahor were wayward with shots. Joe Bennett went closer with a 54th-minute deflected effort.
It had been almost entirely Villa's second half but on 57 minutes fortunes changed again. Benteke's boot was high and straight into the chest of Terry. Referee Lee Mason had no choice but to be consistent and show a yellow card. It was the striker's second and player numbers were now even. Agbonlahor took over as centre-forward.
The momentum was back with Chelsea and it was history-man Lampard that took advantage, receiving the ball just inside the area and making space before hammering it with his left-foot past Guzan who had no chance. There were great celebrations but still a job to do with half an hour remaining.
We were fortunate when Lichaj's shot only just cleared the bar after deflecting off Hazard and Villa were having another good spell.
But then Chelsea came back strongly again and there was the closest of close goal-line calls that didn't go our way. Cahill's shot was initially blocked by Sylla right on the line and as Ba pounced, Westwood was adjudged to have cleared with millimetres to spare. That was all it could have been.
With quarter of an hour to go Terry was carried off on a stretcher having appeared to damage an ankle in a collision following a corner. The skipper was clearly in some pain.
The search for a winner went on without him. Lampard headed a clear chance over and Mata struck a free-kick wide. David Luiz fired a longer-range free-kick on target but Guzan palmed it out.
Cech saved well from Westwood before a moment that will be indelibly marked in the Chelsea history books.
Hazard and Cole were at their best inside the box to make the chance and when the Belgian fired the ball low across the goal, there was Lampard four yards out to slam it in. How that goal was celebrated in front of the travelling support! There were two minutes left on the clock with another seven added for stoppages.
Hazard before the end joined Terry as an injury casualty with what looked like a muscle problem - not good news ahead of Amsterdam.
Villa laid a mini-siege on the Chelsea goal but substitute Ivanovic did very well to head a Delph shot over the bar.
The final whistle blew and all the team gathered to congratulate each other before leaving the stage to Chelsea's No.8.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry (c) (Ivanovic 76), Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Moses (David Luiz h/t), Mata, Hazard; Ba (Torres 87).
Unused subs Turnbull, Ake, Benayoun, Oscar.
Scorer Lampard 60, 88.
Sent off Ramires 44 (second yellow card).
Booked Ramires 16, Terry 41, Lampard 84.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Guzan; Lichaj, Vlaar (c), Baker, Bennett; Sylla, Westwood, Delph; Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor.
Unused subs: Given, Gardner, N'Zogbia, Williams, Holman, Bent, Bowery.
Scorer Benteke 14.
Sent-off Benteke 58 (second yellow card).
Booked Baker 3, Benteke 35.
Referee Lee Mason