10-man Chelsea suffer 1-0 loss to Aston Villa as woes continue


Nicol: Chelsea recruitment completely wrong

Steve Nicol criticises Chelsea's recruitment after another poor performance saw them lose 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.

A 73rd-minute strike by Ollie Watkins earned Aston Villa all three points at goal-starved, 10-man Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.

Watkins tore through the home defence on the counter and angled his shot deftly through Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez's legs before it bounced in off the far post.

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"It is always nice to score and help the team to win. It had been a few games I hadn't scored. I knew the goals would come but I am delighted it has come in a game that helps the team and helps us get the three points," Watkins said.

Chelsea had been in charge for most of the match, with Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson finding space behind the defenders.

But, as so often in recent months, they failed to find the telling shot with Villa's Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez stopping a string of chances.

Mauricio Pochettino's expensively assembled team have not scored for their last three matches and Villa fans delighted in singing that he would be sacked in the morning.

Villa, pushed back for most of the first half, found more ambition after Malo Gusto was sent off in the 58th minute following a VAR check for a late tackle on Lucas Digne.

The French defender had slid in on Digne on the wing and was first shown a yellow card before referee Jarred Gillett was called over to check the monitor and change his decision.

Nicolo Zaniolo and Digne caused Chelsea's depleted defence problems and Villa defended their lead energetically, despite the match coming only three days after a 3-2 defeat by Legia Warsaw in the Europa Conference League.

"We played against a top team in Poland the other day and then it was a quick turnaround. We showed our resilience, kept playing our game," Watkins said.

Villa moved up a place to sixth in the table with the win, while Chelsea, in their worst start to a season for more than 40 years, stayed 14th.