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Brighton & Hove Albion
West Ham United
31 December 2011
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: M. Halsey
• Attendance: 41332
D. Drogba 23'
S. Ireland 28'
S. Petrov 83'
D. Bent 86'
90' + 5'
That's it for Goal.com's LIVE commentary on this game. Join us in 2012 for what is sure to be a cracking second half of the Premier League season!
90' + 4'
And the game ends Chelsa 1-3 Aston Villa! Hardly the result many would have predicted before the game but Alex McLeish's men certainly deserve their win. Andre Villas-Boas will rue not using the home match to catch rivals Manchester United after their home loss earlier today. Goals from Stephen Ireland, Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent put the hosts to the sword despite Didier Drogba giving them the lead from the penalty spot.
90' + 2'
We are two minutes into four minutes of stoppage time at Stamford Bridge, but it will not make a difference as Chelsea looked resigned to defeat. The home fans are flocking out of the ground. Not a great New Year's Eve performance from their boys.
Chelsea have well and truly thrown it away today. Plaudits have to go to McLeish and the Villa side though, who have defended brilliantly and counter-attacked more than effectively. It will be of no consolation to Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas that the club's four-match streak of 1-1 draws has come to an end.
Assist Stephen Ireland
Goal Darren Bent
It is now 3-1 Aston Villa! Can you believe this? Lampard gives the ball away to Ireland who breaks forwards into the empty space behind the Chelsea back four, before passing to his right for Darren Bent to shoot off-and-over Cech to score the third of the game for the visiting side.
Assist Ciaran Clark
Goal Stilian Petrov
2-1 to Aston Villa! Well the visitors were just denied a penalty when John Terry looked like he brought down Bent in the Chelsea box, but the away fans will feel justice has been restored with a goal less than 30 seconds later. Ciaran Clark powers at the Blues' defence on the left-hand side of the pitch and slots between Bosingwa and Luiz through for Stiliyan Petrov to put Villa ahead!
Torres attempts to lob over the Villa defence but there are no Chelsea runners to intercept his pass and the ball bounces harmlessly to Brad Guzan in goal.
McLeish finally makes his first substitutes: Darren Bent on for N'Zogbia, and Premier League debutant Gary Gardne, 19, on for Albrighton. What a match to make your debut in.
Torres heads over from the resulting corner; arguably, the Spain international should have done better but the striker was being pressured by Villa defenders all around him.
Substitute Jose Bosingwa strikes with his left foot after cutting inside from the right and nearly beats the Villa goalkeeper, forcing the American into a diving save the keep the powerful shot out of goal.
With only 16 minutes remaining, the hosts really need to kick into gear or risk a fourth straight 1-1 result. Torres does well to put Drogba through but the 33-year-old puts it wide of the near post on Guzan's right.
Villa have yet to make a substitute today but Petrov is down and may need treatment after a collision with the referee. Ha, a fan has invaded the pitch during the break in play. I obviously does not condone streaking or pitch-invading of any sort, but it is fairly amusing to see the stewards grapple them back into the stands.
At the opposing end, Albrighton forces a save from Cech low the his left when the winger capitalises on David Luiz and Ashley Cole's dithering on the edge of their own box.
Yellow Card Carlos Cuéllar
Cuellar comes charging in on the right of the Villa box and is yellow carded for his slide tackle on Drogba. The defender, playing at right-back today, clearly thinks he has won the ball - and replays indicate he has - but his follow through did wipe out the Ivorian.
Wow, what an introduction to the game from the £50 million striker: Torres turns his man outside the box and blasts his right-footed effort onto the Villa crossbar. The home support are bhoyed by the striker's shot but that will be of little concern to Torres, who will be gutted such an ambitious attempt did not rustle the back of the net.
Fernando Torres comes on with a littl under a third of the match remaining. I sincerely hope the Spaniard's New Year resolution is to start scoring, for Chelsea fans' sakes.
Mata really is one hell of a player, is he not? The Spaniard weaves down Chelsea's left wing into the box and dinks a ball over his nearest man onto Sturridge's head, but the striker has no success and Warnock clears for Villa.
A lull in play here in west London, but it is Chelsea who are in control of the match. That does not mean Villa are out of the game in the slightest though; their counter attacking has been penetrating the Blues' back-line all day.
And just as I insinuate the Blues' passing has not being clinical enough, Meireles lofts a delicate ball through to Sturridge but the Englishmen cannot make contact with the ball and Guzan collects it gratefully. It is Oriol Romeu who leaves the field of play for Lampard, by the way.
Frank Lampard & Fernando Torres are warming up on the sidelines, with the England midifelder looking nearly ready to enter the fray as he receives last minute instructions from manager Villas-Boas. Chelsea have missed his clinical passing today.
Agbonlahor has just missed a one-on-one opportunity with Petr Cech - well, Cech saved the shot to his left but the striker should have done much, much better when poked through on goal by Marc Albrighton. A chance to take the lead at Stamford Bridge wasted.
Villa centre-back James Collins nearly chests the ball into the Chelsea net at the back post when Stephen Warnock's looped free-kick from the Villa right is looped in and ricochets off the defender and marginally wide of Cech's left post.
Dunne has a rampaging little run into the Chelsea half but there are no immediate options for the defender and the run fizzles out.
Daniel Sturridge had not really had much of an impact in the first half but the forward nearly latches on to Juan Mata's low cross in the Villa area but the Spanish winger places the ball behind the striker and Villa can clear their lines.
Villa kick the second half off in wearing their sort-of-white-but-sort-of-grey tops. Can they cause an upset and beat Chelsea at their own ground? Or will Andre Villas-Boas' side orchestrate a win this afternoon?
45' + 3'
The half-time whistle blows and puts an end to a competitive fixture between these two sides. McLeish's men were solid in defence until Richard Dunne carelessly brought Didier Drogba to the ground in the box. The Ivorian scored the penalty with ease but Chelsea' lead did not last long as Stephen Ireland scored for Aston Villa only five minutes later. The tie could honestly go either way and both managers will need to inspire their players to come out the better side in the final 45 minutes.
45' + 2'
The last chance of the half comes from Mata's free-kick from the left of the Villa box, but the referee gives the away side a free-kick for pushing by Chelsea attackers.
My, my, my. Warnock does love putting Guzan in a bit of bother. Earlier on he nearly lobbed his own keeper with a pass back to the American, and now he cuts his pass to the shot stopper short and Guzan has to quickly hoof it out of play to prevent Drogba from pouncing on the loose ball.
Referee Mark Halsey deems Stiliyan Petrov to have fouled Oriol Romeu and the Blues have another free-kick, this time from only 25-yards out. Drogba's effort skids off the side of the wall for a Chelsea corner.
Drogba skies a free-kick attempt from 35-yards out. Five minutes until half-time here at Stamford Bridge.
It is impossible to tell which way the game will go right now. With nearly 40 minutes gone both teams are showing fight - the wingplay especially has been impressive and the game will likely be won or lost on how defenders deal with the opposing team's wingers.
Bit of confusion in the Chelsea half when the referee cannot decide whose ball it is when the ball looks like it has gone out for a throw. Eventually he gives the decision to Chelsea after looking as though he was going to do a drop ball, and the choice is greeted by ironic cheers from the home support.
Drogba is through on the left for Chelsea and crosses a swift ball in which Guzan parries forwards. Mata is at hand to shoot from the rebound but his efforts to score are thwarted by Villa defenders throwing their bodies in the line of fire.
Yellow Card John Terry
Agbonlahor is hacked down by Terry on the halfway line and is promptly yellow carded for his recklessness. Further replays indicate the Blues centre-back might not have handballed it by the way, but it is not completely clear. Either way, the Chelsea skipper is in the referee's book now.
Assist Charles N'Zogbia
Goal Stephen Ireland
Goal to Aston Villa! Well I said they had seen most of the ball since Drogba's goal, and their response has been maginificent. Ireland turns his marker on the Chelsea right and through balls it to N'Zogbia who sprints towards the bye line and slots it through for Ireland. The midfielder smashes it but sees his first effort blocked but manages to score with his second. Replays show the first shot was blocked by Terry on the line with his hand - the England captain is lucky the referee did not see that. Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa.
No response yet from Villa but they have seen the majority of possession since the opening goal at Stamford Bridge. Plenty of movement in midfield from the visitors.
Penalty Goal Didier Drogba
And he scores! Drogba scores his 150th goal for the club by calmly slotting the penalty low and underneath Guzan, who had dived to his left. That makes it six goals in 12 matches for the striker and gives a 1-0 lead to Chelsea.
Penalty to Chelsea and everyone in the ground must accept it is a stonewall decision. Dunne dives in on Ddier Drogba goes down the collision. Drogba will take it...
Drogba has two attempts on goal within the space of about a minute-and-a-half. His first shot is from the left edge of the Villa box and goes a couple of feet over the bar from 20-yards out. His second is from the opposite side of the pitch and a similar distance out, but this time to Ivory Coast international drags his shot low and wide of Guzan's left post.
This game could really do with a goal at either end to liven up the game. Stephen Irelands sprints forwards down the middle and it is three-on-three at the Chelsea end but the Irishman's ball to N'Zogbia is behind him and it is an opportunity wasted.
Alex McLeish is out of his dugout barking orders at his Villa side. The former Scotland man must be relatively satisfied though with the way his defence has dealt with the Chelsea threat with 17 minutes gone.
Ashley Cole whips an excellent ball in from 35-yards from the bye line and it takes an acrobatic clearane from Stephen Warnock clears the dangerous cross.
Another corner comes to nothing - this time Raul Meireles power-blasts his shot miles over the bar from the headed Villa clearance.
Daniel Sturridge lofts the ball into the box towards Brad Guzan's right upright and the American fumbles the high ball, carrying it out accidentally for a corner. It is hard to tell if the ball was a shot or a deep cross to be honest, but either way the home team have their fourth corner of the match.
An eye-boggling 57 per-cent of goals conceded by Villa have been from set pieces but Alex McLeish's side have dealt well with the aerial threat posed by Chelsea so far. Another corner is cleared by the visitors and the ball returns the middle of the park again to be passed around by Villas-Boas' men.
Albrighton whips a tantalising ball into the back post from the right edge of the box but Agbonlahor is unable to get his glancing header on target and it is a goal-kick to the home team.
Agbonlahor turns David Luiz on the right Villa flank and beats the defender before being brought down by the Brazilian. That lad is always teetering on the edge of a yellow card whenever I have seen him play but nothing is shown by referee Mark Halsey.
Chelsea are enjoying a nice little spell of possession at Stamford Bridge but they have yet sliced open the away side's defence since the first minute of the match.
Ramires, who was absent for the Boxing Day derby with Fulham, hustles Villa centre-back Richard Dunne off the ball and wins a free-kick when the Republic of Ireland international gets back up and fouls him. The free-kick comes to nothing and Villa counter-attack and win their first corner of the match.
Chelsea kick us off and they have corner after less than a minute when Mata controls Oriol Romeu's through ball but James Collins blocks the Spaniard's effort.
The teams are out on the field and the match is only moments away. John Terry is captaining Chelsea for the 400th time today, can he mark that statistic with a win? Or will the visitors cause an upset at Stamford Bridge?
Only five minutes or so left until the game commences. Let me know in the comment section what you think the final score will be. With Manchester United faltering above them and Liverpool surging beneath them after their win at home to Newcastle United last night, the Blues will want to bag three points to celebrate the upcoming New Year in style. Villa are struggling for goals at the moment but surely at some stage McLeish’s men will need to scoring.
If Chelsea pull their socks up and perform today then stand-in Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan will need to be alert and ready for a probable bombardment of shots. Chelsea’s three forwards (Daniel Sturridge, Juan Mata & Drogba) are a formidable trio and Stamford Bridge’s home fans will be urging them onwards no doubt. At the other end of the pitch, Gabby Agbonlahor will be operating as a lone striker, with promising England Under-21 winger Marc Albrighton and former Wigan Athletic attacker Charles N’Zogbia flanking him.
Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas will be desperate to silence his critics and end a run of three consecutive 1-1 draws. With Manchester United having lost 3-2 at Old Trafford to Blackburn Rovers only moments ago, surely the coach will want to inspire his team to decrease the deficit between his side and the reigning champions. The last four matches between these two sides have produced 24 goals; would I be jinxing it by suggesting we are in for a New Year thriller?
Three changes to the Chelsea team that drew 1-1 on Boxing Day with Fulham – Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Jose Bosingwa making way for Ramires, Didier Drogba and Paulo Ferreira respectively. Villa boss Alex McLeish gives Stephen Ireland the vote of confidence in his only change from their goalless last match away to Stoke City. Darren Bent is only fit enough to make the bench but one can only imagine he will feature later in the game.
Aston Villa starting XI: Guzan; Clark, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; N’Zogbia, Petrov, Cuellar, Ireland, Albrighton; Agbonlahor. Subs: Marshall, Hutton, Bannan, Gardner, Bent, Delfouneso, Weimann.
Chelsea starting XI: Cech; Ferreira, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Romeu, Meireles; Sturridge, Drogba, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Hutchinson, Lampard, Kalou, Torres, Malouda.
Welcome to Goal.com’s LIVE! coverage of Chelsea against Aston Villa. The match kicks off in 15 minutes and I – Miles Chambers – will be bringing you pre-match details and coverage doing the game of everything that happens. Full team news coming your way imminently.
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