Premier League - Villa and Chelsea play out draw
Sat, 16 Oct 19:30:00 2010
Both sides might have snatched the victory in the final twenty minutes as the Blues hit the post twice and Villa once, but neither team could find the back of the net.
Chelsea were able to call upon skipper John Terry after he missed out on England duty, but Frank Lampard was missing from midfield and the absence of Didier Drogba handed Gael Kakuta his first Premier League start.
And Ireland might have given his side the lead after just two minutes after a sizzling run down the right from Stewart Downing released the Irishman into space, but he dragged his shot wide.
Carew then forced a save from Petr Cech a couple of minutes later after latching on to a misplaced pass.
But the opening goal did not come, and slowly but surely Chelsea played their way back into the match.
Possession, which had been quite evenly shared between the two sides for the first half hour, came to be dominated by Chelsea for the rest of the game, and in the second half they looked much the better side.
Nicolas Anelka forced a sharp save from Brad Friedel after making a little space for himself, while substitute Yuri Zhirkov played a tantalising cross on the hour which caused confusion in the Villa penalty area.
Chelsea fans will have been pleased to see Jose Bosingwa take the field as a substitute for the first time in almost twelve months, and he won a corner almost immediately with a dangerous cross.
When Branislav Ivanovic's powerful header from the resulting Malouda corner thundered off the upright it looked as if the visitors were getting closer to breaking the deadlock.
In the dying minutes of normal time Anelka missed a gilt-edged chance to head Chelsea in front from close range following another excellent Malouda delivery and again the Blues were denied by the upright.
But the best opportunity of them all fell to Nigel Reo-Coker, who caught Terry napping and found himself one-on-one with Cech, only to dink his shot just wide of the target with only seconds remaining.
A late winner would have been a cruel blow for either side, and the result keeps both sides exactly where they began the day in the table - eighth and top respectively.Mark Patterson / Eurosport