'Unstoppable' Chelsea punish 'abject' Aston Villa

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Chelsea returned to Premier League action with an insatiable performance against an abject Aston Villa side.

Eight goals were put past Villa’s Brad Guzan without reply, and no Paul Lambert must face up to the fact that the new year could usher in a daunting relegation scrap at the foot of the table.

It took only 90 seconds for Chelsea to get their Christmas celebrations going, and it was Fernando Torres who scored a fine header that was reminiscent of his better days.

Martin Tyler on Sky described the header as a “Liverpool kind of goal for the Chelsea player”, though before Chelsea fans wet their lips at the prospect of a resurgent Fernando Torres, this could yet be another one of his false dawns that have blighted his Chelsea career so far.

Given the age and inexperience of this Villa side, as well as a distinct lack of quality to cut it in this division, a battering such as this is never far away for the away side.

They have been playing relatively well of late, entering Stamford Bridge on an unbeaten run of four games. To get anything from Sunday evening’s game would have been a triumph for Lambert, but to lose in this fashion will be more damaging than it would be a learning curve for the young Villains.

They mustered only one shot on target over the course of the game compared to Chelsea’s thirteen, and were fortunate not to have lost by nine goals as Lucas Piazon missed a penalty late on in the game.

In fairness to Chelsea, it was a superb performance and a perfect return to the Premier League having participated in the Club World Championship in Japan.

David Luiz enjoyed his new role in centre midfield, though tougher tests will come over the festive period. There was also an opportunity for Frank Lampard to roll back the days of yesteryear with an unstoppable 25-yard strike, his 130th league goal for the club.

The fans showed their appreciation, unfurling a “Super Frankie Lampard” banner, and they must know that the clock is ticking on his glittering Chelsea career.

Next up for the Blues is a trip to East Anglia to face Norwich City, whose unbeaten run was halted by West Brom. It will be a tough fixture given Norwich’s strong home record.

Following that is an equally difficult trip to Goodison Park to face Everton. Chelsea’s priority heading into 2013 will be to ensure that they are still in touch with the two Manchester clubs who are threatening to make the league a two horse race.

Aston Villa fans may have few reasons to be cheerful come Boxing day evening. Tottenham Hostpur must be chomping at the bit to have a go at this beleaguered Villa team.

Paul Lambert must then rally his troops once more in a must-win relegation battle with Wigan.

Which team will turn up in those two games? The one which blitzed Liverpool at Anfield, or this limp side?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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