Skip to content

Narratives invert after Chelsea routs Aston Villa

Dec 23, 2012, 5:02 PM EDT

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-ASTON VILLA Getty Images

After one of the most lopsided matches you’ll ever witness at soccer’s top level, Chelsea is no longer the shriveling shell of a European champion emasculated by a shaming trip abroad. And Aston Villa is no longer the feel-good story of a consolidating youth movement smolten by an up-and-coming coach. After 90 minutes and eight goals Sunday at Stamford Bridge, those narratives were destroyed, Chelsea handing Villa an 8-0 thrashing in London.

With a score that lopsided, it goes without saying it could have been worse. Chelsea put 15 shots on target to Villa’s one. They also had a penalty kick saved by Brad Guzan, the Villa keeper’s last act of defiance after goals from Fernando Torres, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Frank Lampard, Ramires, Oscar, and Eden Hazard gave the American a platoon of tormenters to take to the team psychologist. Villa was so bad, they let Ramires score twice, the Brazilian’s 90th minute goal mercifully ending the embarrassment.

The performance crushes any notion Aston Villa are on the rise. They came into the match in 16th place, only three points above the drop, but having gone undefeated in six, Villa was thought to be the ascendent. Now you look back at their run and see a League Cup win, games with Reading, Queens Park Rangers, and Stoke, and a home draw with a brand-over-substance Arsenal.

But Aston Villa’s win last week at Liverpool — a 3-1 victory that saw Christian Benteke and the Villa counter bayonet the Reds — would have been enough to carry hope into today’s match. Even if their unbeaten run was built more on wish-casting than results, the victory at Anfield was enough to expect better on Sunday. Have any expectations been so devastatingly ill-placed?

But just as the narrative of a surging Villa was eviscerated at Stamford Bridge, so was the Chelsea fans’ worry after a demoralizing trip to Japan. There they lost the Club World Cup, leaving the few (mostly South American) players who care about the competition bawling on the field as Corinthians celebrated a world title. That tactics sheets pulled from the team’s garbage misspelled the name of Corinthians’ goalscorer while stating obvious strategic admonitions (watch for counter attacks after corner kicks) added a layer of farce to a cringeworthy trip.

Crushing another Premier League team always has a was of making everything seem better, especially when there are so many positives beyond the ridiculous score. The win moved Chelsea back into their place, the team holding a game in hand on the collection of challengers who’d temporarily passed them. Frank Lampard was back. David Luiz looked good in midfield (and over dead balls, as the second goal showed). Fernando Torres actually scored a goal. All the ancillary positives meant the game could have ended 2-0 and given Chelsea one of their most positive afternoons of the season.

And it’s with that perspective that today’s true significance lies. As far-fetched as an 8-0 scoreline seems, it’s only one result. One team got three points. The other got none. Where the real implications lie are in the future.

(MORE: Other talking points on the 8-0 shellacking)

For Chelsea, there’s little doubt the Rafa Benítez mistake is starting to come good. It was a bad hire at the wrong time, but a man with his track record is bound to bring some positives to the job. After such an unambiguous sign that the fall’s worries are receding, Chelsea fans can discard their misgivings and begin to embrace the melancholy of the next six months.

No, Chelsea’s not title contenders. And yes, life with Rafa’s going to be a six months of waiting for a terrible roommate to finally move out. But now, there’s something positive to build on.

For Aston Villa, they’ve stumbled back down the stairs. For all the positives fans have seen in Paul Lambert’s first season, the team is still a relegation candidate. While they’re not favorites to go down, they’ve shown themselves capable of that special kind of horrible that may never assuage doubts. Not even the good runs can been seen as independent of the specter that another Stamford Bridge waits around the corner.

Villa’s now three points above the drop and have the worse goal difference in the Premier League. And their next game is against Tottenham, a team just as capable as Chelsea of exploiting the terrible defending on display at Stamford Bridge. And there’s no guarantee Brad Guzan will be as good on Wednesday.

That’s the power of 90 minutes. Chelsea and Aston Villa had spent weeks building their narratives, and within 90 minutes (much fewer, if you consider the disparity was clear long before the final whistle) their stories were destroyed. The surging swapped places with the morose.

You see that about as often as you see an 8-0 final.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

  2. Done Deals: De Bruyne joins Manchester City in busy day for Wolfsburg

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-GER-ARSENAL-WOLFSBURG-FRIENDLY Getty Images

    Find out what moves have been completed with the transfer deadline approaching, as Wolfsburg made three big deals today.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Portland Timbers

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwiwy2q3odk1zwm3ownizgywzdkyota2nwzhymvkmgrl AP

    More than 64,000 supporters packed CenturyLink Field as the Sounders downed the Timbers in a Cascadia Cup clash.

  4. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Madrid clubs cruise; Juve loses again

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Karim Benzema AP

    Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  5. Bayern Munich signs teen sensation Kingsley Coman from Juventus

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIEA-FIORENTINA-JUVENTUS Getty Images

    The French winger has played for Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and now Bayern Munich. All before his 20th birthday.

  6. USMNT releases 23-man roster for September friendlies

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:38 PM EDT

    Howard AP

    Tim Howard and Geoff Cameron are back in the squad, while the relatively unknown Andrew Wooten gets his first call-up.

  7. VIDEO: Garry Monk’s tactical changes led to win over Manchester United

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    In a managerial battle between the young Garry Monk and the veteran Louis van Gaal, the kid came out on top.

  8. Roma beats Juventus 2-1 as defending champs drop second straight

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptqwogu2mgu2njgznjflnjbhmtyyota3mdazymzkyjvm AP

    After losing three matches all of last season, Juventus has now lost their first two games of the new campaign.

  9. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal laments being “too dominant” in loss to Swansea City

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    The Manchester United manager believed his club got so comfortable on the ball that they lost their focus.

  10. Saint-Etienne striker Bahebeck hospitalized after breathing troubles

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT

    Bahebeck Getty Images

    Reports indicate the Saint-Etienne medical staff was initially afraid that the young striker had suffered a heart attack, but it appears the issues are just heat related.

  11. Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United: Swans comeback stuns Red Devils

    Aug 30, 2015, 12:51 PM EDT

    Gomis Getty Images

    The Red Devils thought they’d picked up points at the Liberty Stadium, but Bafetimbi Gomis had other ideas.

  12. Sunday Transfer Rumor Roundup: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Wanyama to leave Saints

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    Draxler Getty Images

    Juventus was in for the Schalke winger, but Wolfsburg now need a replacement for Kevin de Bruyne.

  13. Manchester City officially signs Kevin de Bruyne

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

    DeBruyne Getty Images

    Wolfsburg tried its darndest, but Kevin de Bruyne still decided to leave in favor of a crowded Manchester City squad.

  14. Watch Live: Swansea City vs Manchester United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptfly2fjmgq3njvimzkxyze4mmmxowe2zwziyzg0mwvi AP

    Manchester United has started the season strong, but they take on a team that beat them twice last season.

  15. Southampton 3-0 Norwich City: Saints swarm 10-man Norwich for season’s first win

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Pelle Getty Images

    Graziano Pelle grabbed the opener and Dusan Tadic finished it off with a brace as Southampton flew to its first win of the year.

  16. Victor Valdes to trudge on at Manchester United after Besiktas move falls apart

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:29 AM EDT

    Valdes Getty Images

    Could Valdes be forced to stay with Manchester United despite his obvious wish to leave?

  17. Australian striker scores eight goals in A-League preseason match

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:46 AM EDT

    Maclaren Getty Images

    Oh the season hasn’t started yet? Jamie Maclaren wasn’t aware.

  18. Watch Live: Southampton vs Norwich City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:50 AM EDT

    Koeman Getty Images

    Ronald Koeman must pick up a win fast or risk seeing Southampton in a serious early season hole.

  19. Montreal’s Frank Klopas becomes first MLS head coach fired this season

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Klopas Getty Images

    A single coach had yet to be fired as we approach the start of September, but that changed as Montreal made a change.

  20. MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 2-0 Real Salt Lake (video)

    Aug 29, 2015, 11:37 PM EDT

    Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas

    The playoffs look a might big ask of RSL, as they sit rock bottom, 10th place, in the Western Conference.

Featured video

Highlights: Swansea's win vs. Man United