Villa storm the Bridge to turn the heat back up on Potter

Watkins and McGinn on the mark as Chelsea lose again on home turf to drop into the bottom half of the table
Villa storm the Bridge to turn the heat back up on Potter

SATURDAY BLUES: Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic reacts during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Pic: John Walton/PA Wire.


THE HEAT IS back on Graham Potter after his Chelsea side crashed to their tenth league defeat of the season and dropped into the bottom half of the table.

Unhappy home supporters booed Chelsea off the pitch at half-time and again at full-time after they were outplayed and outfought by a Villa side who climbed above them in the table.

Ollie Watkins and John McGinn scored a goal in each half for Villa, who are rising up the league since Unai Emery took over from Steven Gerrard late last year. In that time, only Arsenal and Manchester City have better away records than the Villains, who were worthy winners here.

But Chelsea's struggles go on. Having appeared to turn a corner with three-straight wins in early March, they are now going in the wrong direction.

Watkins was lively from the start against Chelsea's makeshift looking back three and should have opened the scoring after seven minutes. Kalidou Koulibaly was in the middle, with Reece James on the right and Marc Cucurella on the left, but a smart pass from McGinn sliced them open, giving Watkins a clear chance, only for the striker to drag his shot well wide of the far post.

It was only a temporary reprieve for Chelsea, however, as Watkins made no mistake by punishing another defensive error ten minutes later. Douglas Luiz started the move with some tidy defending before launching a long forward pass. Koulibaly looked to have it covered and was preparing to head clear when Cucurella intervened with a flicked header that simply laid the ball into the path of Watkins, who showed great composure to lob Arrizabalaga. It was his fifth-successive away goal for Villa, beating Dwight Yorke's run of scoring in four-straight away games 25 years ago.

Villa deserved their lead. Only a minute before Watkins' goal, McGinn crashed a shot against the crossbar after good work by Jacob Ramsey and Emi Buendia.

Chelsea also hit the woodwork before the break, when Ben Chilwell chested down a ball from Mateo Kovacic to hit an angled drive against the outside of the near post. The England left-back also had a headed goal ruled out before half-time when referee Andrew Madley spotted him push his marker Ashley Young in the back.

Chelsea had other good chances. Mykhailo Mudryk had one low drive tipped away by Emi Martinez and then hit a soft shot straight at the keeper after being put clean through on goal by Kovacic. It was no great surprise to see the out-of form Ukrainian withdrawn ten minutes into the second half, shortly after McGinn had made it 2-0.

The Scot hit a beauty from 25 yards through a crowd of players after Chelsea failed to clear a corner properly, allowing Ramsey to tee up McGinn for the left-foot shot that flew past Arrizabalaga.

Potter, whose side were booed off at half-time by unhappy home supporters, made two changes after McGinn's goal, sending on Noni Madueke for Mudryk and N'Golo Kante to a huge roar of approval from Blues fans. The Frenchman had not featured since last August because of a persistent hamstring injury, and he almost made a dream return with a goal when he had a shooting chance in the 65th minute. But he dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Potter made more changes but to no avail as his team faded away to yet another defeat and the inevitable chorus of booing at the final whistle.

CHELSEA (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga 6; James 7, Koulibaly 6, Cucurella 5 (Pulisic 80); Loftus-Cheek 6 (Kante 57), Fernandez 6, Kovacic 6 (Gallagher 80), Chilwell 6; Mudryk 4 (Madueke 57), Havertz 5, Felix 6.

ASTON VILLA (4-2-3-1): Martinez 8; Young 7, Konsa 8, Mings 7, Moreno 7 (Digne 89); Kamara 7 (Chambers 46), Luiz 7 (Dendoncker 87); McGinn 9, Buendia 7 (Bailey 76), Ramsey 8; Watkins 8 

Ref: A Madley 6/10

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