Premier League leaders Chelsea‘s title hopes took a major blow this afternoon courtesy of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.
Fabian Delph scored the only goal of the game with just eight minutes to play to hand Villa a valuable victory. This defeat leaves Chelsea, who had two players sent off and manager Jose Mourinho sent to the stands, just six points clear at the top having played three games more than second-placed Manchester City.
Aston Villa almost took the lead in spectacular fashion with just six minutes to go until the break as Christian Benteke produced an acrobatic volley from outside the box that flew narrowly wide. Two minutes later, Chelsea thought that they had taken the lead when Nemanja Matic squeezed the ball over the line at the back post, but the goal was disallowed for a handball against the Serbian midfielder.
As Chelsea continued to press on in the search of the winner, their task was made all the more difficult when Willian received a second yellow card for a foul on Delph with 20 minutes of the match remaining, forcing the Blues to see out the remainder of the game with 10 men.
The hosts then took the lead with less than ten minutes to go as Villa capitalized on a counterattack. Delph gave the ball out wide to Weimann before flicking the return pass past Petr Cech in sublime fashion.
Chelsea’ s miserable afternoon was compounded late as they were reduced to nine men when Ramires was shown a straight red for a poor challenge on Karim El Ahmadi. Manager Jose Mourinho was also sent to the stands in the aftermath of the decision as he continued to protest against the decision.
Mourinho refused to discuss the result and the decisions of the referee so as to not be punished for “bringing the game into disrepute.” In an explosive interview following the 1-0 loss, Mourinho hit out at referees in a carefully-worded rant.
“I don’t want to bring the game into disrepute. I don’t want to comment.
“I just want to let it go and not to comment.
“If you comment you are in trouble and I don’t want to be.
“If I speak I am in big trouble and I don’t want to be in big trouble.
“I prefer not to speak. If I speak I’m accused of bringing the game into disrepute.”
However, Mourinho let his emotions get the better of him, and fumed about the accountability of referees.
“They [referees] do what they do. They go and go in home – they don’t go to the press.
“They refuse to exchange even a couple of words when people like me, who have been in the game a long time, ask politely: Can you speak with me five seconds?
“I said: Can you give me five seconds, Mr Foy?” No, that’s fine, I have to respect it.”
This defeat means that Mourinho is still winless at Villa Park in four attempts and it leaves Chelsea in a precarious position as they see their lead cut down to just six points over second-placed Manchester City, who have three games in hand over the Premier League leaders.
Earlier in the day, Manchester City managed to get all three points against Hull City despite playing most of the game with 10-men. City skipper Vincent Kompany was sent off early in the game but David Silva inspired the 2011-12 champions to a 2-0 victory on a day which might prove to be the turning point in the title race.