Chelsea 0-0 Aston Villa: 3 Blues lessons learned

Chelsea v Aston Villa - Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Aston Villa - Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

In a pulsating 0-0 match, Chelsea and Aston Villa kept the excitement high despite no goals scored. Chelsea showed dominance throughout the game but repeatedly failed to capitalize in front of the goal. Aston Villa, currently in the top four and coming off a 12-day rest, opted for a defensive approach, sitting deep against a Chelsea side that had played only three days prior and is battling with injuries. The two teams will face off again in a reverse fixture to determine the winner, setting the stage for another intense match-up.

Here are three blues lessons learned from the match.

1. Cole Palmer and co failed to make the most of their chances.

The match bore striking similarities to Chelsea's recent EFL Cup first-leg defeat to Middlesbrough, with a recurring theme of missed opportunities. Despite being gifted chances by their opponents, on top of those they created themselves, Chelsea struggled to convert even the simplest of these opportunities into goals. Palmer, in particular, stood out as the main culprit, failing to capitalize on several easy chances that came his way.

Noni Madueke showed promise but fell short of delivering the final product. Raheem Sterling had a mixed performance, displaying inconsistency throughout the match. Conor Gallagher, often finding space on the right wing, failed to deliver effective crosses. Introduced later in the second half, Armando Broja's lack of control over the ball, especially against a tiring opposition, was notably poor.

2. The introduction of Ben Chilwell unexpectedly shifted the momentum in Aston Villa's favor.

Chelsea controlled the match until Ben Chilwell came on for Alfie Gilchrist. Once on the field, Chilwell struggled to find his rhythm, consistently having trouble containing Matty Cash. If not for Djordje Petrovic's crucial saves, Aston Villa might have capitalized and scored the winning goal.

The positioning of Chelsea's vice-captain was also notably suboptimal, as he often drifted too much towards the middle, leaving ample space on Chelsea's left side for the visitors to exploit. Levi Colwill, primarily a center-back, similarly found himself overly central while playing as a left-back, a position unfamiliar to him. Chilwell's positioning seemed influenced by this as if he believed that's how a left-back should position himself, further exacerbating Chelsea's defensive issues.

3. The unbeaten home run continues, but this result adds yet another match to their already busy schedule.

Maintaining their impressive record of not losing at home, especially against a team that ranks in the top four of the Premier League table, is a positive sign for Chelsea. The fact that Chelsea, having played just three days earlier, could have easily triumphed over a well-rested team like Aston Villa will likely leave Pochettino with mixed feelings.

There was a concern ahead of the match when Levi Colwill, initially named in the starting 11, had to be replaced by Alfie Gilchrist due to an injury during the warm-up. Despite being called up to start at the last minute, the academy graduate excelled in his defensive duties. Pochettino later confirmed that Colwill's injury was not serious and that he should be available for the next match.

With many first-team players currently out, the prospect of another match on Chelsea's schedule is hardly ideal for Pochettino. Aston Villa, known for their strength at home, will present a big challenge for Chelsea. Pochettino will be hopeful that some of the sidelined players will recover and be fit for this crucial fixture.