Rafa Benitez had insisted that Chelsea’s title chances were still alive – on this evidence, he could well be right.
It was almost like the old days at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Remember when, under Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea clinched the title in 2010, with a 7-1 win over Aston Villa, a 7-0 tonking of Stoke and then, on the final day, an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan.
Villa were torn apart as David Luiz sparkled in his new midfield role and Frank Lampard showed just how important he should be to the club with another peerless display and, of course, a goal. The fans still churlishly sang the praises of Roberto Di Matteo, but there were no audible ‘Rafa out’ calls at Stamford Bridge yesterday. And none at all by the end.
If he carries on like this he will be melting the hearts of even the most die-hard Robbie lovers. And the effect he has had on Fernando Torres has been little short of remarkable. The previously misfiring Spaniard has now scored seven goals in his last six games.
It took Torres just three minutes to score against a Villa side unbeaten in their previous six games. Cesar Azpilicueta crossed and Torres rose to power a header into the top corner of the net. Villa’s young side simply never recovered. Luiz, in his brilliant, erratic way, ran the show as Lampard coolly threaded killer passes alongside him. After Eden Hazard was brought down, Luiz superbly curled his ‘Ronaldo-like’ free-kick over the Villa wall and past Brad Guzan.
It was three before half-time as Villa’s hapless defence failed to clear Juan Mata’s corner. Gary Cahill’s shot was well saved by Guzan but Branislav Ivanovic was there to smash home the rebound.
And number four came when Mata found Lampard 30 yards out and the 34-year-old, as he has done so many times over the years, drilling a glorious low volley into the corner for a superb goal. “Sign him up” sang the crowd, of a player who is now Chelsea’s record top-flight goalscorer by overtaking Bobby Tambling with 130 goals., but who they seem determined to discard. Minutes later he went off to a standing ovation.
The scoring carried on without him, however, as substitute Lucas Piazon fed Ramires and the Brazilian rammed his shot through Guzan’s legs for the fifth goal. On came another Brazilian in the shape of Oscar and, when he was brought down in the area by a clumsy challenge from Chris Herd, he stepped up to slot home the penalty himself.
Hazard had been brilliant all match but had little reward, until he exchanged passes with Victor Moses, beat two men and fired home from an angle for goal number seven. And it could have been even worse for Villa. Piazon was then felled in the area, but the young Brazilian saw his penalty well saved by Guzan.
“I’m very proud of that goals record, to beat a great man such as Bobby who is an absolute legend and a lovely bloke, it means everything. I’ve been fortunate to play for a great club and the managers had teammates around me.” -Frank Lampard after after his 500th start in EPL
- Rafael Benitez hails return of Fernando Torres’ confidence (standard.co.uk)
- You: Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa: What Just Happened? (bleacherreport.com)
- Chelsea put eight past Villa (skysports.com)
- Frank Lampard grabs Chelsea’s fourth against Aston Villa with stunning 45-yard drive (metro.co.uk)