By Derrick Kiplagat
Jose Mourinho’s nightmares lessened as the Blues beat Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa 2-0 at the Stamford Bridge. A first-half goal from Diego Costa set the Blues on their way after a poor clearance from Brad Guzan, before Alan Hutton directed a pass from Costa into his own net to complete an afternoon of defensive mistakes for Tim Sherwood’s side.
It was a much-changed Chelsea side who took to the pitch, with Costa returning from suspension in place of Falcao, while Oscar, Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard started on the bench, allowing Pedro and Ruben Loftus to start.
Branislav Ivanovic’s injury meant that Chelsea fans got the change they’d been hoping for as Baba Rahman replaced him in the full-back position.
Villa made four changes of their own, bringing in Jack Grealish, Kieran Richardson, Jordan Ayew and Carlos Gil for Jordan Veretout, Jordan Amavi, Jose Angel Crespo and Scott Sinclair as Tim Sherwood continued to mix up his team sheet more in hope than expectation.
Chelsea looked far from comfortable against the team on the worst run of form in the league despite managing to secure the three points, being gifted both of the opening pair of goals which broke Villa’s spirit.
The first came from a dreadful ball out from the back by Guzan, which Joleon Lescott failed to bring under control, instead playing it straight into the path of Willian. The Brazilian forward squared the ball to Costa for the easiest of finishes with Guzan stranded.
Later, Cesc Fabregas found Costa with a delightful ball to the far post, but the Spain international attempted to square the ball across the box only to pass the ball straight into the heel of Villa defender Alan Hutton, who could only watch as the ball looped into the goal with Guzan wrong-footed.
Elsewhere, Arsenal leapfrogged Manchester United into second place in the Premier League table after a fantastic 15-minute spell in the second half gave them three goals and three points against Watford at Vicarage Road stadium.
After a fascinatingly even first-half, the Gunners’ quality carved open a stubborn Hornets defense, with Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey all notching strikes for Arsene Wenger, who watched his side pick up exactly where they left off before the international break when they blew Manchester United away at the Emirates Stadium.