Mason Mount scored twice as Chelsea piled the pressure on Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard with a 2-0 Premier League win in the West Midlands.
The 23-year-old took advantage of an error from Tyrone Mings to slot home early doors before completing his brace with a peach of a free kick, as Villa were left to rue a succession of missed chances against an inspired Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It took the Blues all of six minutes to break the deadlock at Villa Park, as Mings got a header horribly wrong from Ben Chilwell‘s deflected cross, and Mount could make no mistake one-on-one against Emiliano Martinez from only a few yards out.
The returning Leon Bailey had a magnificent chance to restore parity for Villa with 15 minutes gone, but his close-range header clipped the crossbar on his way over.
The Villa Park faithful began to groan in frustration, but Gerrard’s side were left scratching their heads after a chaotic period around the 20-minute mark, where Kepa pulled off a brilliant double save from John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey before Douglas Luiz‘s effort flashed just wide.
The Spaniard continued to justify his selection over Edouard Mendy with a magnificent reaction save from Danny Ings‘s point-blank header after 31 minutes, and a rare Chelsea foray forward not long after saw Raheem Sterling – freed from his previous wing-back role – curl a shot against the crossbar.
𝐀 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧?! 👏
Kepa heroics 🤝 Chelsea win pic.twitter.com/vGHGcOxxsw
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 16, 2022
Gerrard’s side did everything but put the ball in the back of the net in the first half, and Graham Potter responded by bringing on Kalidou Koulibaly and Cesar Azpilicueta for Marc Cucurella and Havertz.
The hosts started the second half as they ended the first, but a touch of magic from Mount put Chelsea two goals to the good in the 65th minute, as the 23-year-old won a free kick for a foul from Mings.
Mount dusted himself down to bend an unstoppable effort into the middle of the goal past Martinez, who had taken a small step to his right and could not readjust quickly enough.
Chelsea’s second goal appeared to take the sting out of Villa, who were then grateful to see Sterling’s header into the ground go just wide of Martinez’s far post following good work from Conor Gallagher on the right.
Chelsea comfortably saw out the final few moments to go three points clear of Manchester United in fourth, while Villa are only one point clear of the dotted line in 16th.
Villa now have three days to recover before battling Fulham at Craven Cottage on Thursday, while Chelsea will travel to Brentford on Wednesday.