Chelsea failed to ease the mounting pressure on manager Frank Lampard as Aston Villa came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday, as a coronavirus outbreak at Manchester City caused their clash at Everton to be postponed.
Lampard publicly criticised his players’ attitude in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday that left the Blues down in eighth at the start of the day despite a £220 million ($298 million) splurge in the summer transfer market.
Chelsea’s strength in depth showed as Lampard was able to make six changes from the side beaten at the Emirates.
Olivier Giroud was one of those drafted into the side and the French international proved his worth with a precise near post header from Ben Chilwell’s cross to open the scoring with his ninth of the season.
By contrast, Dean Smith made just one enforced change from the team that played for 45 minutes with 10 men in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.
But Villa showed no signs of fatigue in the second-half and levelled when Anwar El Ghazi turned home his fifth goal in as many games from Matty Cash’s cross five minutes into the second-half.
Villa even came close to a winner when John McGinn’s long-range effort rattled the crossbar.
Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have so far failed to live up to their billing as Chelsea’s two most expensive summer signings.
Both German internationals were introduced by Lampard for the final quarter and Werner had Chelsea’s best chance to win the game late on, but his lack of confidence showed by blazing over a loose ball inside the area.
Chilwell was also inches away from a stunning winner deep into stoppage time with a volley that flew just wide.
But Chelsea have now won just one of their last five league games to fall six points behind leaders Liverpool in sixth, having played a game more than the champions.
Villa remain just above the Blues in fifth thanks to a better goal difference and have played two games fewer than Chelsea.