This must be considered as one of the most pointless games in the Premier League this season. Aston Villa are probably the worst team in Premier League history, and Chelsea haven’t got much left to fight for this season. In the end it was a bit of a training game for Chelsea, but to be fair, that’s how most teams playing against Villa have had it in the past six months.
Unusually, I can praise Guus Hiddink for his team selection. He’s only here for another seven games, and with very little left to fight for, it’s about time he gave youth a chance. Even if we win those last seven games, the most amount of points we can end up on is 65, which at most would give us Europa League football, which we don’t really want. It’s about time Ruben Loftus-Cheek got a run in the first team given how poor Eden Hazard and Oscar have been this season, and what better time to put him, Matt Miazga and Kenedy into the team against such a poor side.
The main event that the game will be remembered for was the injury picked up by Loic Remy that gave Alexandre Pato his long awaited debut. I think it was probably the last time we will see Remy in a Chelsea shirt. He doesn’t want to be at the club beyond next season, and I doubt Antonio Conte will either. The first goal was eventually scored by Loftus-Cheek, his first in the Premier League, after a good ball into the box from Cesar Azpilicueta. Hopefully it is the first of many to come from the young midfielder.
Pato did mark his debut with a goal, even if it was from the penalty spot. It was a stonewall penalty though, as Aly Cissokho just took him out. He’s got a lot of work to do in the remaining couple of months of the season to earn himself a permanent contract in England, but he should be given the chance to do that under Hiddink. He looked pretty much match fit on Saturday, and he should be, he hasn’t done anything for three months.
It was 3-0 early in the second half, after a good bit of build up play led to Oscar setting up Pedro. I know the Spaniard has taken a lot of stick this season, but unlike someone like Hazard, he does all the running and looks to make something happen. He isn’t one of the players who we need to get rid of. He added another late on in the second half, and it was a clever finish past Brad Guzan to make it 4-0. The game was basically an exhibition match in the second half, something which played right into the hands of Cesc Fabregas, who completed 120 passes in midfield, and he made it look very easy.
I have to talk about the appointment of Antonio Conte as manager given that was announced on Monday. I think he’s probably the right man for the job, especially as when he joined Juventus in 2011, they had just finished seventh in Serie A, and he took them to the title in each of the next three seasons. He also took the chance to clear out a lot of deadwood from the squad, and there is an awful lot of that in the Chelsea squad. A similar rebuilding job to the one he did in Turin needs to be done at Stamford Bridge, and although it may not be as easy to do in England as in Italy, he certainly has the credentials to do a good job.
Obviously he won’t officially start working with the Blues until after Euro 2016, so it’s still Guus Hiddink at the helm for the rest of the season. It’s away at Swansea next week and I’d hope that we’ll see the youngsters get another go, as with nothing to lose, we can experiment a bit for the rest of the campaign.