Aston Villa v Chelsea: as it happened
COMMENTARYKEY MOMENTSLIVE COMMENTINGWRAP: And, well, that's that. Chelsea stretch their lead at the top to five points, but Manchester City will cut that down to two if they beat Blackpool tomorrow. That really would inject some insulin into the title race. Villa look like they'll be safe in the hands of Gerard Houllier. You could argue they could even have won with the glorious chances they enjoyed at the very start and very end of the match. Chelsea were well below their best in the first half, much better in the second, and may well feel they could have sneaked a cheeky win. Truth is, though, they didn't quite do enough. Nick Pearce will describe the Merseyside derby for you tomorrow afternoon, which will be followed in short order by Ed Ballard taking you through Blackpool v Manchester City. Right, you can all switch over to The X Factor now. See you soon. Related ArticlesPremier League actionPremier League tablePremier League fixturesAston Villa v Chelsea: match previewTelegraph player raterSport on television19.26 I really am sorry if your enjoyment of this live text commentary was spoiled by, well, there not being any live text. I would blame gremlins in the system, but the truth actually is this. After the last technical glitch, for which gremlins were also blamed, we marched all the gremlins outside, put them up against the back wall, and shot them. We thought that would be the end of our technical problems, but their abrupt return has informed us beyond reasonable doubt that something besides gremlins must be responsible. It also makes us feel slightly guilty about what we did to the gremlins. 19.23 Reo-Coker still shaking his head as he shakes hands with the Chelsea players. He knows it should be his name plastered all over the front pages tomorrow. Instead, it's going to be some unworthy mandarin in a fluorescent top called Edwin van der Sar. On the whole, though, both teams look roughly equally satisfied. You don't turn your nose up at a draw against the champions, and you don't turn your nose up at a draw at Villa Park, either. So noses very much turned down on both sides. FULL TIME Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea And that's your lot. 90+2 min And Reo-Coker should have won it for Aston Villa! He should definitely have won it! Terrible error by Josh McEachran, stumbling giving the ball away in his own half, and all of a sudden Reo-Coker was away in the clear! Cech raced out, possibly surprising Reo-Coker, who ended up trying to dink it over the keeper and dinking wide. Glorious chance. 90+1 min Collins saves Villa's bacon! It was another fine cross by Bosingwa, and Collins strained every hamstring in his leg to nick it away from Anelka. 90 min Young's corner, and Cech can pluck that out of the air. 89 min Malouda's pass is cut out by Warnock, and he sets Delfouneso free down the left! On goes Delfouneso, and Ivanovic has to slide it away for a corner! Four minutes of injury time! 88 min ANELKA! From six yards! How did he miss? Ashley Cole's cross was perfect, and Anelka's header was horribly misjudged, going straight into the ground, kissing the post, and bouncing clear. That was the chance. 87 min Apologies, by the way, if your commentary feed has abruptly stopped working. We have some smart people working on the problem. Of course, if your commentary feed has stopped working, you're probably reading this on Sunday morning or something. 86 min Chelsea beginning to lay siege just a little. McEachran with a lovely dummy for Mikel, who rifles in a shot that's blocked. Ashley Cole is next to have a crack, but that's blocked too. 85 min Steve Sidwell's first act is to get himself caught offside. Well, it's one way of getting into a game, and the method most favoured by Sergei Rebrov, by the by. 84 min Anelka, who's done very little all afternoon, now runs the ball out of play in a promising position on the Chelsea left. 83 min And now McEachran gets booked, although that's a little harsh as he was actually trying to back out of challenging Young. Stephen Ireland makes way for Steve Sidwell, who comes on against his old club. Forgot Steve Sidwell used to play for Chelsea, didn't we? That was a surreal interlude in his life and ours. 81 min Smart work by Bosingwa again, tackling Young as he dances down the left touchline and winning the throw-in too. 80 min Foul by Ashley Young on Bosingwa, who's looked bright since he came on. Young earns himself a yellow card. The free-kick comes in from Malouda on the right, but it's blocked. 79 min And now Villa hit the post! Ciaran Clark tries to glance a header past Cech at the far post, but with Cech utterly flummoxed, the ball clatters into the woodwork! 78 min Free-kick to Villa as Ivanovic fouls Young. Young and Petrov are standing over the free-kick, which will come in from the left. 77 min CRACK! What a stunning header by Ivanovic! It smacks against the post before anybody - least of all Brad Friedel - can react. That's as close as Chelsea have come! Could that be the little bit of luck Villa need? 76 min Bosingwa with an awkward cross for starters. It bounces awkwardly in front of Beye, who can only flick it behind for a corner. 75 min Yellow card for Ciaran Clark for a whipping, late challenge on Anelka. And here come the Chelsea changes. Bosingwa replaces Ferreira - his first game in a year, when he injured his knee on this ground - and McEachran replaces Ramires. 74 min Malouda heads the corner away. Ireland tries to loft it back in for Young, but it's headed away by Terry, it looks like. 73 min Young, who's been one of Villa's best players today, tries to slither away from Ivanovic, and wins a corner. Meanwhile, it's a hell of a lot of paperwork for the fourth official. Delfouneso replaces Carew, while for Chelsea, Josh McEachran and Jose Bosingwa are getting ready to come on. 72 min It's headed on by Clark. Collins's shot has to fight its way through a sea of bodies, and doesn't make it. 71 min Meanwhile, the Chelsea bench is so young they've probably had a total of about eight driving lessons between them. Jose Bosingwa is the only remaning experienced option for Carlo Ancelotti. Corner for Villa. 69 min Villa would take a draw at this point, you fancy. And it appears John Carew is suffering from cramp, so Nathan Delfouneso is getting ready to replace him. 68 min Stephen Ireland is booked for an earlier challenge on Malouda that referee Lee Mason spotted but didn't blow for. 66 min Warnock with a long throw on the Villa left, looking for the head of Carew, but Chelsea clear and launch a lightning break! Anelka cuts in from the right, lines a shot up, and... slices it well wide. 65 min It just eluded the head of Essien! It flicks off Downing's back, but it's given as a goal-kick. Downing with that butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth-expression. Although to be honest, butter probably wouldn't melt in Stewart Downing's mouth. It would probably just curdle. 64 min Anelka darts down the right before crumpling under the challenge of Warnock. Warnock's adamant he got the ball, but he so, so didn't. Warnock is booked, and Chelsea have a dangerous free-kick on the right. Malouda to take. 63 min Ashley Cole getting booed by the Villa fans, as he does at every away ground in the country. I'll just put a quick question out there - is there anybody who isn't a Chelsea fan and isn't Aimee Walton who actually likes Ashley Cole? There has to be someone? Somebody needs to put the other side of the story. 62 min Ireland tries to feed Carew, who was poised on the shoulder of the last defender, but it's cut out and Chelsea build again. Essien shoots from distance - and how many times have we seen those go in? - but this one's easy for Friedel to gather. 60 min John Terry gives Ashley Young a lusty bump in the ribs. Young stays down, and there's going to be a minute's hiatus while he gets treatment. Young looks winded, but he's OK. 59 min Chelsea are getting closer! Ramires tries to cross the ball for Zhirkov from the left. It was a simple tap-in for Zhirkov, but Clark - who's impressed since coming on - steals ahead of him and gets himself in the way of the cross. 58 min The way Chelsea are knocking the ball around, Villa are going to need to take their opportunities when they come. 57 min Villa break, quickly, with Warnock. He has time to advance and then pick out a cross. His cross hits a running Ireland in the side before he can stop himself. Disappointing for Villa. 55 min Cole strips the ball from Carew to break up another Villa move. They just look so much tighter, Chelsea. 54 min Carew holds the ball up well on the left, but, as is often the lot of the lone striker, there's nobody to pass it to. Eventually he tries a sort of dainty loft wedge in the direction of Young, but Chelsea can deal with that easily. 53 min Bosh! Anelka shoots from an angle. Friedel had it covered, but he'll have a hefty bruise on his thigh after keeping that one out. 52 min Ireland tries to play it over the top for Carew, but that's too close to Cech. Villa mustn't retreat if they still want to have a say in this game. 51 min Interesting, isn't it? That ephemeral, indefinable quality best expressed as 'clicking'. Chelsea are clicking in this half in a way they seemed strangely unable to do in the last. 49 min Spellbinding tussle between Terry and Carew as they both chase a long ball. It's like watching two grizzly bears go head to head over a chocolate brownie. Carew wins the battle, but Terry wins the war, dropping to his knees and getting a soft free-kick. 48 min Yep, Chelsea look as though they've decided to turn up for this half. Malouda, who's switched to the right to make way for Zhirkov, gives Warnock a hard time before eventually surrendering the ball in the corner. 47 min Chelsea go close! Zhirkov twists, turns, slips it to Malouda, Malouda crosses and Villa only just scramble it clear. And then Malouda stings Friedel's palms with a rasping shot from distance! By the looks of it, Ancelotti's stuck a V1 rocket up his team's backsides at half-time. 46 min Warnock's back pass to Friedel sold him a little short, and the American had to be alert to get there ahead of Anelka. Zhirkov looks like he's going to slot into the front three. 18.31 We're away again. Carlo Ancelotti has brought Gael Kakuta's Debut From Hell to a premature end, replacing him at half-time for Yuri Zhirkov. 18.30 We're ready for the second half. I wouldn't bet against a twist of some sort in this game. It's been that kind of day in the Premier League. I'm sure most people mentally tuned out of the United v West Brom game when they went 2-0 up. And remember, Villa won the corresponding fixture last season. 18.20 After one of those florid, expressive openings you dream about as a neutral, that was actually a rather underwhelming first half. Chelsea looked a vulgar fraction - around five-eighths, if you forced me to put a figure on it - of the team that has left a trail of demolitions in its wake so far this season. Villa should have led through Stephen Ireland, and had enough ball to effect another chance at least as good, but the bottom line is this: if you have a half like that against Chelsea, you generally need to score in it. Villa haven't, and will have to hope Chelsea are as inept in the second period as they were in the first. Half time: Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea 45 min Decent jump by James Collins at the back post, but the header goes well over. One minute of injury time. 44 min Ramires nods it clear at the near post. Clark finds Young brilliantly on the left again though, and it's another corner off Mikel. 43 min Ashley Young again making a nuisance of himself down the left, and he wins a corner. Chance for Villa just before half-time. 42 min Reo-Coker, it looks like, heads it away, and Mikel's ball back into the area is just hideous. 41 min Free-kick to Chelsea, around 45 yards out. Malouda hovers over it. 40 min Another skyscraping ball out left for Ashley Cole, who - I don't know if his team-mates have noticed - isn't the tallest man in football. It's a measure of how effectively Villa have stifled the visitors. 38 min Petrov! And then Ireland! And Villa want a penalty for handball! Young slips it into the area, and Petrov's shot is blocked before spinning out to Ireland. The goal appears to be gaping, but a heroic last-ditch block from Ivanovic denies him. The ball struck the back of Ivanovic's arm as he slid in, but there wasn't the faintest whiff of intent in that. 37 min That said, Chelsea have just shaded the last 10 minutes. Gerard Houllier's expression hasn't improved since the start of the game. He still looks like a man who's just been told his dog has fleas. 35 min Mikel tries to loft the ball out left for Ashley Cole, but Beye heads it away. Chelsea reduced to taking the aerial route. 33 min Essien's getting closer: another volley from the edge of the area, but it's straight at Friedel. Villa will be happy to keep Chelsea to the odd pop from distance, though. And there goes another, from Anelka, which soars towards Sutton Coldfield. 32 min Someone get a basin, so Gael Kakuta can bathe in the waters of shame. Malouda takes a corner from the left, Kakuta's again in hectares of space and can size up a half-volley, but he sends it flying in the rough direction of Bromsgrove. 30 min Ivanovic, who's looked about as steady as a vibrating grapefruit so far, is forced back under pressure from Reo-Coker, but just gets a clip on the ankle as he retreats into his own area. 29 min Essien with a left-footed volley which goes out for a... throw. Top work, Essien. 28 min Cech fumbles as Carew lurks! Ireland, who's taking up some dangerous positions, started the move, and as the cross sailed in, Cech came, leapt, caught, dropped and grabbed at the second attempt. Lucky Cech. Carew was lurking with intent there. 26 min Ivanovic heads the corner on threateningly, but Warnock wraps a thick left boot round it and clears it miles. 25 min Or possibly Grouting. Imagine showing it off to visitors. "Ooh, is that a Nobel Prize?" "Yeah." "What's it in?" "Grouting. Why do you think I keep it in the bathroom?" Chelsea have a corner. 24 min Foul by Young on Ferreira. and it's a chance for Chelsea to send a ball in from the right. But that's just horrible from Kakuta: weak, low and failing to beat the first man. If that free-kick were a Nobel Prize category, it would be Tiling. 23 min After that whirligig of a start, it's just settled down. Villa could shimmy into the top six with a win this evening, while a draw would move them up a place to eighth. 21 min Petrov with a sumptuous, ornate, Cadillac of a ball out left to Warnock. Warnock's cross almost reaches Carew, but it's headed away by Chelsea. 20 min At the moment I can't tell if Villa are playing really well or Chelsea are just allowing them to. One thing is clear, though: Chelsea should be behind. Wonder if Villa will end up regretting that early miss by Ireland? 19 min Warnock finds Young on the right. After some fancy dan in the corner, he floats the ball in, and Ireland's shot is blocked behind for a corner. Carew gets a head on the corner, but it's an easy catch for Cech. 17 min Malouda plays a long ball into the centre that is cut out by Beye. They've been nowhere so far, Chelsea. 15 min Corner to Chelsea, which Malouda takes short. Ivanovic's header is blocked out to Kakuta, who has eons to line up a volley, but sends it well over. On the evidence of the first 15 minutes, you'd be tempted to send the highly-rated Kakuta back to the creche for a few weeks, but he is actually pretty good... 14 min Habib Beye, by the way, is the object of one of my favourite football chants ever, which goes to the tune of Happy Days. It's right up there with 'Put Your Hands Up For Dirk Kuyt', in my book. 12 min Wham! Michael Essien with a sliding challenge on Stiliyan Petrov, and he's going to see the game's first yellow card. Clark does come on for Dunne, which throws Gerard Houllier's plans somewhat into the cement mixer. 11 min Dunne's got a cut on his foot, actually, and Ciaran Clark looks like he's going to replace him. He's whipped off his training top and is getting ready to come on. In Dunne's absence, Habib Beye has moved into the centre and Nigel Reo-Coker has slipped back to right defence. 9 min Finally, Chelsea do get the ball down and play it, but when Villa don't have the ball they're pretty organised. Kakuta tries to skip through with a flamboyant 360, which ends with the ball about ten yards away from his feet. 8 min Richard Dunne's off the pitch for the time being, getting his socks adjusted or something. Petrov tangles with Ashley Cole and wins a free-kick. 6 min And Carew was almost through again! He tried to cut inside Ivanovic and get a shot away, but Ferreira got a brave toe on the ball and poked it back to Cech. Can pedal appendages possess courage? Not intrinsically, I'd argue, but by implication. 4 min Bright start by Villa, though. Stephen Warnock gets down the left and sends a cross in low, but Cech smothers it. Then Kakuta is dispossessed and all of a sudden Carew has a free shot at goal from 18 yards, which Cech just tips wide. Chelsea need a spoonful of Pro Plus here, they look as though they're in hibernation. 2 min And Stephen Ireland should have put Villa ahead within two minutes! Downing got the ball on the right, played it inside to Ireland, and he's got to hit the target from there, surely? He was about 15 yards out with just the keeper to beat. Instead he drags it just wide. Glorious opportunity for Villa early on. 1 min Gerard Houllier hunched on the touchline wearing a claret and blue scarf. He looks inexplicably morose. Perhaps he had a fiver on Wigan earlier. 17.30 Right, here we go. If you're wondering why the preamble's been so thin, we've been having a few technical problems this end, so I've mostly been typing with one hand... 17.29 It's only October, the leaves are still mostly on the trees, but Chelsea could go seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with a win today. Already they're odds-on favourites to retain the title 17.20 John Terry returns after missing England's dignified if highly inept goalless draw against Montenegro with a back injury. Didier Drogba misses out with a fever (a Saturday night fever, it's been rumoured), and Gael Kakuta gets his first ever league start. Meanwhile - violins at the ready - Emile Heskey misses out and John Carew replaces him. Marc Albrighton and Luke Young are also sidelined; Stephen Ireland and Habib Beye come in. Aston Villa (4-5-1): Friedel; Beye, Dunne, Collins, Warnock; Reo-Coker, Petrov, Ireland, Downing, Ashley Young; Carew. Subs: Guzan, Cuellar, Bannan, Sidwell, Delfouneso, Clark, Salifou. Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Mikel, Essien; Malouda, Kakuta, Anelka. Subs: Turnbull, Bosingwa, Zhirkov, Van Aanholt, Bruma, Borini, McEachran. Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire) (Who?) 17.15 What a day it's been in the Premier League. Newcastle and West Brom both came from two goals down to snatch a draw against struggling, rudderless teams. Arsenal and Tottenham kept up the pressure on leaders Chelsea. Which brings us to this evening's late kick-off: Aston Villa v Chelsea. It's Houllier against Ancelotti, London against Birmingham and Michael Essien against, um, NIgel Reo-Coker. We've got team news, for which stand by.
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