IN-FORM VILLA visit Stamford Bridge in the final Premier League game before Christmas.
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Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa
15.38 – Good afternoon. It’s one game down, one to play as far as today’s Premier League fixtures are concerned as Manchester United have just been held to a 1-1 draw by Swansea. Whether you’re out squeezing in the last bit of Christmas shopping or meeting up with old friends for a festive pint, we’ll gladly keep you abreast as the meeting of Chelsea and Aston Villa unfolds over the next two hours.
The home side go into the match knowing a win would see them leapfrog Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and West Brom to sit in third place on Christmas Day. Villa, meanwhile, arrive in London on the back of two impressive league wins over Norwich and Liverpool.
We’re 20 minutes away from kick-off now. Teams to follow.
15.50 – Team news: Chelsea bring in three players from the side who saw off Leeds in the Capital One Cup quarter-final in midweek. Gary Cahill takes David Luiz’s spot at centre-half with the Brazilian expected to move into midfield and Oscar dropping to the bench, Ashley Cole is back for Ryan Bertrand and Marko Marin loses out to Eden Hazard.
It’s a team for winning,” Rafa Benitez has just told Sky Sports. “The manager wants to win every game. I think it (picking David Luiz) is a good option. He can do everything well. He’s a great player.”
Villa are unchanged from the side which beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield, meaning Ciaran Clark captains the side, while Shay Given is on the bench. Stephen Ireland replaces Charles Nzogbia as a sub, meanwhile.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Azpilcueta, Luiz, Lampard, Mata, Hazard, Moses, Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Ramires, Oscar, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Baker, Clark, Lichaj, Holman, Westwood, Bannan, Herd, Weimann, Benteke. Subs: Given, Bowery, El Ahmadi, Ireland, Bennett, Delph, Albrighton.
15.57 – Irish international Ciaran Clark has skipper Villa in recent weeks in the absence of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ron Vlaar. The 22-year-old has said being a leader on the pitch is something he has done all through his career. Read that interview in full here.
15.58 – Players are on the pitch after emerging from the tunnel, so we’re about to get underway here.
16.02 – We’re just seconds in and referee Phil Dowd has awarded Chelsea a free-kick after Chris Herd pulls Fernando Torres 30 yards out. Frank Lampard tries his luck but can’t beat the wall. When the ball is sent back in, Brad Guzan commands his area well to collect the cross.
16.04 – GOAL! Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa (Fernando Torres)
The ball is sent wide to Cesar Azpilcueta and the full-back crosses to his fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres, who sends a terrific header past Guzan. A fine goal.
16.09 – There was plenty of talk about the impact Rafa Benitez’s arrival at Chelsea would have on Torres’ form. That’s now seven in his last six games for El Nino. It’s also Chelsea’s first goal at home under Benitez. They couldn’t have asked for a better start.
16.13 – One for stats fans:
16.19 – Villa still trying to muster up their first chance after being more than a little shaken by the early goal. Their main threat, Christian Benteke, looks to latch onto clipped pass from midfield but is muscled out of it by Branislav Ivanovic.
As the 16th minute chants for Roberto Di Matteo ring around the stands, Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville isn’t impressed: “I’m getting bored of this now, to be quite honest with you. They might not like him (Benitez) but they’ve just got to get on with it.”
16.21 – Here’s the goal:
YouTube credit: GoalsFootballTV
16.29 – GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa (David Luiz)
That’s a cracker (no Christmas pun intended). Herd brings down Eden Hazard some 25 yards from the Villa goal and this time David Luiz takes responsibility. The Brazilian blasts the free-kick up and over the wall and beyond Guzan with expert precision.
16.35 – GOAL! Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa (Branislav Ivanovic)
They’re pulling away here. Gary Cahill brings down a corner brilliantly, then has a pop. Guzan punches clear but the Serbian defender is in the right place to head home.
16.39 – That Luiz free-kick gets better everytime you watch it…
YouTube credit: SportHDable
16.43 – 41 minutes into the game, Villa have their first shot. It’s high and wide from Barry Bannan.
16.47 – Half-time: Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa
Christian Benteke controls the ball. Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport
16.53 – Watch goal number three while Paul Lambert attempts to lift his players from a first half drubbing:
YouTube credit: MrRMD10
17.03 – Here we go again. Big ask for Villa but they’ll be hell-bent on making a game of it in the second half.
17.08 – Super save from Guzan to keep out Juan Mata when he seemed certain to score.
17.11 – Another chance to report and, unsurprisingly, it’s gone to the home side. Frank Lampard strikes well but Guzan is behind it all the way.
Gary Cahill with a timely tackle down the other end moments later.
17.15 – Chelsea break through Hazard and Mata before Torres tries a spectacular rabona, which doesn’t find a team-mate.
Stephen Ireland has just entered the fray. The Cork man comes on with Joe Bennett. Ashley Westwood and Eric Lichaj leave the field.
17.16 – GOAL! Chelsea 4-0 Aston Villa (Frank Lampard)
If there was ever any doubt that Chelsea were going to earn three points in this one, Frank Lampard has just put the result to bed. In trademark fashion, the midfielder drives a shot into the bottom corner from distance. The Bridge erupts and then gives him a deserved applause as Ramires replaces him.
That’s his 130th Premier League goal for the club, which is a record. It’s also his 500th Premier League appearance.
17.27 – Torres next to go be withdrawn by Benitez with a busy schedule ahead. Oscar is on in his place, and the Brazilian has just dragged a shot narrowly wide.
17.30 – A milestone goal for Frank Lampard:
17.34 – GOAL! Chelsea 5-0 Aston Villa (Ramires)
18-year-old Lucas Piazon sets up his compatriot after coming on for Mata. Ramires belts a shot under the legs of Guzan. 15 left and you’d fancy them to get another.
17.35 – PENALTY TO CHELSEA
17.38 – GOAL! Chelsea 6-0 Aston Villa (Oscar)
Herd brings Oscar down and the substitute dispatches from the spot.
17.41 – GOAL! Chelsea 7-0 Aston Villa (Eden Hazard)
Holy crap, I feel sorry for Villa fans. The winger gets in on the act after a nice one-two on the edge of the box and a neat finish.
17.48 – Incredibly, Dowd awards Chelsea a second penalty… but Piazon, on his Premier League debut, has his spot-kick saved by Guzan!
17.52 – GOAL! Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa (Ramires)
Deary men, it’s 8, yes you’re reading that right EIGHT, for Chelsea. A second goal for Ramires after Oscar’s run. Villa players just praying for the final whistle now.
17.53 – Full-time: Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa
18.00 – So much for Rafa Benitez and his boring 1-0 wins…
18.02 – Lambert’s face says it all.
Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images