The Warm Down: Quick turnaround at Villa Park keeps Chelsea’s top-four dream alive  
Photo by Justin Tallis/Pool via Getty Images

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side were forced to come back from behind at Villa Park this afternoon, with two goals in two minutes from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud proving to be the difference.  

Despite dominating possessions early on, it was Aston Villa who took the lead on the brink of half time with Kortney Hause scoring at the second attempt following a good save from Kepa Arrizabalaga.   

Shortly after half time, substitute, Pulisic snuck in at the back post and finished well from a Cesar Azpilicueta cross in his first game since 1 January. 

Two minutes later, Chelsea completed the turnaround with Azpilicueta yet again proving instrumental in the build-up, finding Olivier Giroud who was allowed to turn inside the box and fire his right-footed effort past Orjan Nyland

The win for Chelsea means the Blues are now just three points behind third-placed Leicester City, here is some of the main talking points from the game: 

Chelsea benefitting from the break

With more than three months separating Chelsea’s last two games, the Blues were able to benefit from the time off, with several key players returning from injury. 

Firstly, Ruben Loftus-Cheek returned to the Chelsea starting eleven for the first time since May last year following an Achilles injury. Another vital return for Frank Lampard was Christian Pulisic who last featured for Chelsea on New Year's Day. 

Despite Loftus-Cheek still looking a little rusty, the fact he was able to play almost an hour of football after such a long break will fill Chelsea fans with optimism. 

For Pulisic it was a slightly different story, with the American international making an instant impact off the bench with his goal on the hour mark. 

It is clear to see why Chelsea were one of the sides pushing hardest for teams to be allowed to make five substitutes from a nine-man bench. With Lampard able to bring on players like Tammy Abraham, Ross Barkley, Reece James and Pulisic, it could be a regular occurrence for the Blues to take until the second half to really show their quality in games. 

Villa struggled to threaten

Dean Smith’s side have been particularly unlucky this season with injuries, losing the likes of Tom Heaton and John McGinn for long stretches of the season.  

However, it will probably be the injury to striker Wesley which will prove to be most detrimental to Villa in their chances of avoiding relegation. The Brazilian, who has five Premier League goals so far this season, has not featured for Villa since their New Year’s Day defeat to Burnley and is their second-highest goalscorer behind Jack Grealish

With Wesley out for the rest of the season, Dean Smith has looked to Keinan Davis and Mbwanna Samatta to provide goals, however, they only have one league goal between them this season.  

For the game against Chelsea, as he did against Sheffield United, Dean Smith went with Davis to lead the line but the youngster failed to register a single shot all game, and often found himself isolated upfront. Part way through the second half, Smith brought on Samatta, but he also failed to even register a shot on goal.  

Without a recognised goal scorer, Aston Villa’s survival chances will continue to look slimmer and slimmer as they continue to rely on dangerman Grealish. 

What does today's result mean for Villa?

Following yet another defeat earlier, Aston Villa remain in 19th place, just a point behind 17th placed West Ham United, and could also be made to pay for their inferior goal difference. 

Next up for Villa, they face Newcastle at St James Park on Wednesday evening, followed by tough games against WolvesLiverpool and Manchester United. With just eight games to go, Dean Smith will be keen to find a source of goals other than Grealish as well as look to improve his side defensively, with them only keeping five clean sheets all season. 

What does today's result mean for Chelsea?

Frank Lampard’s hunt for a top-four finish continues, with his side just three points behind third-placed Leicester City. 

Next up for the Blues, they welcome current Premier League champions Manchester City to Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard is likely to continue to make the most of his large squad, with top scorer Tammy Abraham only featuring for the final ten minutes at Villa Park, in contention with Giroud for a starting place. 

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