We’re only in the first week of April, but Aston Villa’s fate in the Premier League has been all but sealed. Remi Garde’s departure last week didn’t make too much sense, as the level of performances hardly indicated that a late Renaissance was on the cards. If the Board did think that, they were brought crashing down to the earth yesterday afternoon.
The Villa players looked like soldiers entering a battle they know they’re going to lose. Chelsea, who haven’t had a season to be proud about themselves, didn’t even have to be at their best to dispatch their hapless opponents 4-0. Guud Hiddink fielded a very different-looking side for this match, with youngsters like Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy included from the start, and American centre-half Matt Miazga making his debut.
In the opening half, there were first league goals for Loftus-Cheek and Alexandre Pato, who came on as a substitute on the half-hour mark for the injured Loic Remy. The Brazilian was seen as a luxury buy and has been at the club for three months now but this was his first appearance. It didn’t take him too long to make an impression, as he won and scored a penalty five minute before the break to make it 2-0.
Pedro added a third with a beautiful team goal a minute after the restart, before getting his brace 15 minutes later. Alan Hutton was sent off in the 85th minute for his second bookable offence, meaning that the home side ended the game with 10 men,
A demonstration by the Villa fans
Large sections of Villa Park were empty for this game and even the fans who made it were only interested in getting a strong message across to the boards. They held up signs that said – “Proud history, what future?”, and called for owner Randy Lerner to show his face.
Villa were established in 1884 and have won 7 First Division titles (now the Premier League), 7 FA Cups and 1 European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) in their history. They will be relegated next week if they lost their home game against fellow-strugglers Bournemouth. This will be the first time they will have experienced the drop since the Premier League began back in 1992.
They supporters also made their opinions felt on the lack of spirit shown by the players in this fight, and singled out Leandro Bacuna in their boos when he came on in the 74th minute. The Curacaoan said in an interview this week that he does not see his long-term future being at Villa Park. Coming out with that kind of a statement amidst the turbulent circumstances at the club at the moment was obviously something the fans didn’t take well to.
Chelsea still unbeaten, but tougher tests lie ahead
Chelsea extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 15 games, the longest streak by any team this season. This, of course, masks the fact that the Blues haven’t really been convincing in that time and have actually draw 8 of those matches.
They picked up a convincing win yesterday, but Liverpool’s draw against Spurs later on meant that they remained in 10th. They are yet to face Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester City in the 7 weeks that remain in this year’s campaign.