Boxing Day football is always an important tradition on the Premier League calendar and while more than a few questions have had to be raised regarding the immediate future of the league and COVID-19, it’s still great to see so many clubs up and down the top tier competing – with the hope being that we won’t see any further disruption.
Last night, we saw Aston Villa play host to Chelsea in the second city in what proved to be a really interesting clash of styles. In the end, though, Chelsea were the ones who came away with all three points on a dramatic evening.
Chelsea dig deep
When an own goal handed Aston Villa the lead, there was every reason to believe that the Blues would continue their recent trend of falling short in games they’re expected to win. Alas, it only took a few minutes for Jorginho to level things up, with Romelu Lukaku eventually handing the visitors the lead. A late penalty ensured that there was no comeback to be had from the hosts with Thomas Tuchel finally being able to whip his boys into shape when it mattered the most.
Villa show resolve
Even without Steven Gerrard on the touchline, Aston Villa had abut as much heart as their fanbase could ever hope to see from them. They play really nice football, they never give up and they don’t care about the strength of the opponents they’re coming up against. They continually focus on being better in every area of the pitch whether it’s the first minute or the 90th, and that’s what sets them apart from clubs who are going to be lingering down towards the bottom three. They care, and it’s wonderful to see.
Title race back on?
The Premier League title race was at serious risk of being whittled down to just Manchester City and Liverpool prior to this win for Chelsea. That still may be the case but as Lukaku noted, it’s better for them to be chasing the pack than be the ones leading it. They could still fall away in the weeks to come but something tells us Tuchel won’t allow that kind of complacency anymore.