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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jacob Leeks

Chelsea slump into Premier League's bottom half with Aston Villa defeat - 5 talking points

Chelsea's faint hopes of joining the race for the European qualification places suffered a hammer blow as they were defeated by Aston Villa.

The Blues have enjoyed a resurgence under Graham Potter in recent games, but they have now fallen into the bottom half of the Premier League. Ollie Watkins delivered a clever finish to open the scoring in the first half by lifting the ball over Kepa.

Though the hosts pushed for an equaliser, they could not find a way past the superb Emiliano Martinez, with John McGinn securing the win with a long-range strike in the second-half. Here, Mirror Football looks at the biggest talking points from Chelsea's defeat.

Cucurella concerns continue

Concerns have been mouting over Marc Cucurella's defensive ability ever since he arrived at Stamford Bridge. The fullback was a big-money signing from Brighton in the summer transfer window.

But he has struggled to live up to his price tag, with his liability at the back exposed again against Aston Villa. Douglas Luiz sent a long ball forward, but Cucurella could only head it back towards his own goal.

That played Ollie Watkins in, with the striker racing through to lift the ball over Kepa and into the net. The experiment of playing Cucurella in a back three could be over after yet another defensive howler from the Spaniard.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Who was man of the match in Chelsea's clash with Aston Villa? Comment below.

Martinez restores trust

Emiliano Martinez produced a man of the match performance for Aston Villa (Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Back in February, Villa keeper Emi Martinez came under fire from boss Unai Emery for his performance in the defeat to Arsenal. But he got himself well on the way to getting back into the Spaniard's good books with a man of the match display against Chelsea.

The World Cup winner came up with several huge saves to keep the Blues from scoring. His distribution was also near-perfect, allowing Villa to hit Chelsea on the counter-attack time and time again.

His performance will certainly help him to earn back Emery's trust, with the keeper proving critical to Villa keeping their fourth clean sheet in their last five Premier League games.

Potter's resurgence takes a blow

Chelsea had enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence under Graham Potter, going unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions. That gave them an outside hope of getting themselves back into the race for a European spot.

But the chances of that happening have suffered a hammer blow with this defeat to Villa. The Blues now find themselves in the bottom half of the Premier League table, nine points behind fifth-placed Newcastle, who play Manchester United on Sunday.

Potter could now come under more pressure as Chelsea's campaign heads towards a disappointing ending. This result will do little to help him convince supporters that he is the right man for the job.

No end in sight for Mudryk's misery

Mykhaylo Mudryk's struggles continued for Chelsea (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

It has been far from the ideal start to life at Chelsea for Mykhaylo Mudryk following his mega-money move in January. The Ukrainian has registered just one assist and has failed to score in his eight games so far.

His misery shows no sign of ending, if his performance against Villa is anything to go by. He spurned two major opportunities, including when he went one-on-one against Martinez, but could only deliver a limp shot.

The attacker also won just one of his ground duels and failed to complete a dribble before being subbed off after 58 minutes. Potter will need to go back to the drawing board to find a way to get the best out of his star signing.

Villa deliver Emery masterclass

Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has developed a reputation for his defensive style of management ever since entering the dugout. His influence at Villa is clearly growing, with his players totally buying into his tactics since he took over in October.

The win over Chelsea was another counter-attacking masterclass from the Midlands side. They had just four shots in total, two of which they scored they from, compared to an astonishing 23 from their hosts, though only seven of those were on target.

Emery's men were happy to cede possession, with Chelsea having 70 per cent of the ball over the 90 minutes. But Villa were still able to create plenty of opportunities and with Martinez in fine form in goal, it was a classic performance from the visitors.

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