Despite a relatively even contest at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s cutting edge at both ends of the pitch gave us a comprehensive 3-0 victory as Aston Villa fell victim to another impressive showing from Romelu Lukaku.
The visitors made life difficult for the Blues with their relentless pressing, restricting us to a handful of opportunities and creating openings of their own.
However, Lukaku continued his exciting start to his second spell with Chelsea by latching on to Mateo Kovacic’s quick through ball, turning inside Axel Tuanzebe and firing us into a first-half lead with his first goal at the Bridge.
After the break, Kovacic got his name on the scoresheet by capitalising on an underhit back pass by Tyrone Mings, before Lukaku made it three with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, while on the few occasions Villa found a way through the Blues defence they were thwarted by the imperious Edouard Mendy.
It is a clear sign of how clinical Chelsea, and Lukaku in particular, were against Aston Villa that, despite our opponents having more shots, 18 to our 12, and shots on target, six to four, we ended the match with three goals, while they had nothing to show for their efforts.
That figure of three goals from just four shots on target was an impressive tally from the Blues, but Lukaku went even better with a total of two shots and two goals, giving him a 100 per cent conversion rate. That also meant that while Villa players had more shots overall, with Ollie Watkins having six on his own, nobody on either team bettered Lukaku’s two shots on target. Strikers don’t get much more efficient than that.
The theme is continued in the rest of the Belgian’s stats too, as he ended the match with 100 per cent pass completion, despite being under heavy pressure from the Villa defenders throughout, and wasn’t dispossessed once, while no other Chelsea player won more than his three aerial duels. And all of that despite only second-half substitutes Cesar Azpilicueta and Timo Werner having less touches on the ball than Lukaku’s 25.
The Shed Wall
It would be wrong to think our superior efficiency in front of goal was all down to Lukaku’s clinical finishing and Villa’s wastefulness, though, with our defenders and goalkeeper deserving plenty of credit for keeping our opponents out.
The fact that nine of Aston Villa’s 18 shots were blocked by Chelsea defenders before they even reached Mendy was a clear sign of our resilience, with Watkins looking particularly frustrated as four of his six efforts were charged down.
Thiago Silva, making his first start of the season, had big role in that with his four blocks the highest on the pitch, followed by half-time substitute Jorginho with two. The former also made the joint-highest number of clearances, six, along with Antonio Rudiger.
Of course, Mendy did his bit to earn the clean sheet too, making six saves compared to four by Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer, as well as successfully dealing with three crosses to Steer’s one.
Just like Lukaku, Kovacic scored his first goal at Stamford Bridge, with both his previous strikes in a Chelsea shirt coming away from home, at Valencia and Everton, both in 2019. This was also the first time he registered a goal and an assist in the same game since joining the Blues.
With N’Golo Kante absent through injury, Jorginho rested for the start and Saul making his first-ever appearance in English football, the emphasis was on Kovacic to lead by example in midfield, and he didn’t disappoint.
In addition to his impact with a goal and an assist, the Croatian played more passes (74) and had more touches of the ball (91) than any other player, while his five successful dribbles was also the highest tally for Chelsea.