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In-form El Ghazi earns Aston Villa draw at Chelsea


Anwar El Ghazi
Anwar El Ghazi rescued a point for Aston Villa with a clever side-foot finish at Stamford Bridge

Anwar El Ghazi scored his fifth goal in as many games as Aston Villa came from behind to earn a point against Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge.

Villa were trailing to an Olivier Giroud header when El Ghazi scored a second-half equaliser that meant the in-form visitors stretched their unbeaten run to five games.

Dean Smith’s side started brightly but found themselves behind when Giroud marked his return to the Chelsea starting line-up with a trademark finish from Ben Chilwell’s cross.

Parity was restored five minutes after the interval, though, when the unmarked El Ghazi converted Matty Cash’s inviting delivery at the back post.

Both sides had chances to steal victory, with Villa coming closest when John McGinn smashed a thunderous long-range effort off the crossbar.

The result lifts Villa to fifth in the table, a point outside the top four, and level with sixth-placed Chelsea with two games in hand.

Festive blip or something more damning?

Chelsea had lost three of their previous four games before facing Villa and that meant the spotlight was on the west London club going into the match.

Boss Frank Lampard delivered on his promise to make changes from the side beaten at Arsenal and World Cup-winning France forward Giroud was one of six new faces in the starting line-up.

The Blues boss was looking for fresh impetus to kick-start his side’s season and Giroud, as he has so often done against Villa, came up with an answer.

The 34-year-old has now scored in three of his last four league starts for the club and he continued his fine form when he arched his back to guide Chilwell’s square ball past Emiliano Martinez.

Giroud has scored in each of his last seven Premier League appearances against Villa, netting nine goals, but the Blues lacked cutting edge in attack after Villa’s equaliser.

From nine second-half attempts, only three were on target, with Callum Hudson-Odoi producing the best effort with a low strike that was well saved by Martinez.

Chelsea spent about £200m this summer but Germany internationals Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were limited to just 18 minutes off the bench against Villa after taking time to settle since moving to the Premier League.

Lampard will be looking for more from Werner and the club’s record signing Havertz if they are to get back in this season’s top four and push for silverware.

Grealish-inspired Villa on song

Having survived on the final day of last season, Villa have enjoyed an impressive upturn in fortune this season.

In contrast to Chelsea, Villa have won three of their last four games and they are playing with confidence, inspired by their talisman Jack Grealish and driven on by the tireless McGinn.

Only Liverpool have won more points at home than Chelsea this season, but Villa started on the front foot, with the influential Grealish involved in three of their first five attempts within 25 minutes.

In El Ghazi, Villa have discovered an unlikely hero, with the 25-year-old suddenly finding an ability to pop up in the right place at the right time.

The Netherlands forward had only scored four goals in his first 37 appearances before this current purple patch.

Villa had not secured a point from a losing position this season before their trip to Stamford Bridge, but this draw is further proof Smith’s side are an entirely different proposition this season.

More to follow.

Player of the match

McGinnJohn McGinn

Chelsea

  1. Squad number18Player nameGiroud

  2. Squad number21Player nameChilwell

  3. Squad number10Player namePulisic

  4. Squad number7Player nameKanté

  5. Squad number20Player nameHudson-Odoi

  6. Squad number19Player nameMount

  7. Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta

  8. Squad number16Player nameMendy

  9. Squad number2Player nameRüdiger

  10. Squad number29Player nameHavertz

  11. Squad number4Player nameChristensen

  12. Squad number11Player nameWerner

  13. Squad number5Player nameJorginho

Aston Villa

  1. Squad number7Player nameMcGinn

  2. Squad number10Player nameGrealish

  3. Squad number21Player nameEl Ghazi

  4. Squad number26Player nameMartínez

  5. Squad number2Player nameCash

  6. Squad number6Player nameDouglas Luiz

  7. Squad number11Player nameWatkins

  8. Squad number4Player nameKonsa

  9. Squad number30Player nameHause

  10. Squad number18Player nameTargett

  11. Squad number41Player nameRamsey

  12. Squad number15Player nameTraoré

  13. Squad number39Player nameDavis

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 16Mendy
  • 28AzpilicuetaBooked at 45mins
  • 4Christensen
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 21Chilwell
  • 7KantéBooked at 74mins
  • 5JorginhoSubstituted forHavertzat 72′minutes
  • 19Mount
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 18GiroudBooked at 71minsSubstituted forWernerat 72′minutes
  • 10Pulisic

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 6Thiago Silva
  • 9Abraham
  • 11Werner
  • 14Tomori
  • 17Kovacic
  • 23Gilmour
  • 29Havertz
  • 33Emerson

Aston Villa

  • 26Martínez
  • 2Cash
  • 4Konsa
  • 30Hause
  • 18Targett
  • 6Douglas Luiz
  • 7McGinn
  • 15TraoréSubstituted forDavisat 87′minutes
  • 10Grealish
  • 21El GhaziBooked at 71minsSubstituted forRamseyat 82′minutes
  • 11Watkins

Substitutes

  • 1Heaton
  • 3Taylor
  • 14Hourihane
  • 19Nakamba
  • 22Engels
  • 24Guilbert
  • 27El Mohamady
  • 39Davis
  • 41Ramsey

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