Ambitious Aston Villa are given a reality check after Chelsea defeat but positives will give billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens hope of breaking into Europe and backing Steven Gerrard in the January window
- Aston Villa were defeated at home to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side
- Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens aspire for greatness
- Under Steven Gerrard Villa lost to Manchester City, Liverpool and now Chelsea
- Positive signs are there to show the Midlands side are back on the up
Aston Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens aspire to restore the club to the top of English football and in recent weeks they have seen exactly what is required to get there.
Since Steven Gerrard succeeded Dean Smith, Villa have looked far more competitive than during the early part of the campaign yet their three defeats have been against the best teams in the country – Manchester City, Liverpool and now Chelsea.
There is no disgrace to losing against these sides, who are among the best in the world. Villa have run all three close, too, and offered plenty of encouraging signs for the future.
Aston Villa gave Chelsea a run for their money but couldn’t create chances in the 3-1 defeat
This is a club with a passionate fanbase and patience has not always been their greatest quality. If they are to achieve their aims, though, Edens and Sawiris will need plenty of it – and so will the supporters.
As Leicester have shown in the last two seasons, a club can knock on the door of the top four and even win a trophy – the Foxes claimed the FA Cup in May for the first time in their history. Repeating it season after season is another matter, however.
Because while a club like Villa can stay in the game against the top sides, the elite clubs usually have the individual quality to swing matches their way. Villa saw that here with Romelu Lukaku, who turned an even contest in Chelsea’s direction with a barnstorming display as a second-half substitute.
Aston Villa’s billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens aspire to restore the club to the top of English football
With Steven Gerrard missing the game as he is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, it was left to assistant Gary McAllister to consider where Villa had fallen short.
‘Looking at the result, I think it flatters Chelsea a bit,’ he said. ‘They have some very good players. Romelu Lukaku made a difference. I felt that we played some good football and we kept the ball away from our goal, but then they made the changes, and they came out on top.
‘In the phases of play I thought we were better in possession at times but the wrong decision was made with the final pass at times. We started the second half very slowly and we sunk a bit, and hence lost that goal to Lukaku’s header. We tried to play with an intensity and make passes.
The signs are there to show Villa are on the up, with the club aiming to get into Europe
“We know it is very important to get possession of the football against a quality side like Chelsea. We have played City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the last few weeks and had the chance to have a look at the elite teams and it’s encouraging that we have competed very well. A bit of identity is starting to appear.’
Villa believe they can reach Europe this season and Gerrard is likely to be backed in the January transfer window, with a central midfielder a priority after Marvelous Nakamba – who was flourishing under Gerrard – suffered a serious knee injury.
European football would be a remarkable effort given Villa were in freefall when Gerrard joined. Yet as Sawiris and Edens will realise, that will be where the hard work really begins.