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Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa: Tammy Abraham scores on return from injury

Tammy Abraham scored his 11th goal of the season with the opener, the most by an Englishman for Chelsea in a single Premier League season since Frank Lampard (15) in 2012-13.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard praised striker Tammy Abraham’s growing influence as the Blues rediscovered their winning touch against Aston Villa.

Abraham reinforced his importance to Lampard’s side, scoring the opener and setting up the second on his return from injury in Chelsea’s 2-1 Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge.

The 22-year-old England international missed the Blues’ home defeat by West Ham with a hip injury and put them ahead against Villa with a firm header from Reece James’ cross.

After Villa equalised against the run of play when Trezeguet bundled in, Chelsea regained the lead shortly after the restart when Abraham neatly chested Willian’s cross into the path of Mason Mount who thumped home a volley.

“Tammy is a personality that’s growing in our dressing room every day with his enthusiasm and his will to win,” said Lampard.

“He is a striker that’s near the top of the goalscoring charts in the league, he’s showing his all-round game, stretches defences and he starts our press.

“And of course if a player’s on such a good run it’s normal that if they go out of the team that you can miss them, and he came straight back in as he left off.”

Chelsea, like they did in the first half before Trezeguet’s leveller, dominated possession and territory as they looked to increase their advantage.

Abraham twice came close to adding a third against the club he helped fire to promotion last season, while Willian – one of Chelsea’s other star performers – hit the post with an exquisite free-kick.

The Blues ended a run of back-to-back defeats with a victory which helps them consolidate fourth place, moving them six points clear of nearest rivals Wolves, while narrowing the gap on third-placed Manchester City to three points.

Villa, who have won just once on the road this season, remain in 15th place, a point above the relegation zone after Southampton’s win.

Abraham’s return lifts Chelsea

Following a tough week in which Premier League defeats by Manchester City and West Ham came either side of a Champions League draw at Valencia, Chelsea were looking to avoid three top-flight defeats in a row for the first time in four years.

They did that against a toothless Villa side, albeit with a tighter margin of victory than their performance deserved.

Mount’s stunning finish proved the difference but, with a refreshed Blues line-up featuring five changes from Saturday’s defeat having 25 attempts at goal, they should have been out of sight.

While England attacking midfielder Mount will take the plaudits for the winner, it was Abraham’s return from injury which was the real catalyst for change.

The Blues had been wasteful against West Ham and Abraham provided a clinical edge after holding his line to head in from 12 yards.

It was a richly deserved lead for the home side with Villa rarely having ventured into the Chelsea box, but it was greeted with muted celebrations from the striker, who scored 25 league goals in 38 Championship matches for Villa in his season-long loan.

“I said the club will always be close to my heart, last season was a long, hard season so I pay all my respects to them,” he said afterwards.

Blues boss Lampard said before the match that Abraham was still suffering some pain in his hip, yet he worked tirelessly throughout in a physical battle against muscular Villa centre-backs Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.

After showing exceptional awareness and composure to tee up Mount’s winner, he was unfortunate not to score another himself – clipping wide of the left-hand post and being hustled out of a close-range chance by Mings – before departing to a standing ovation with seven minutes left.

Abraham looked to walk off gingerly after taking a knock a few moments earlier, although Lampard played down any injury concerns.

Villa assistant manager John Terry returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time – in an official capacity, at least – since leaving Chelsea at the end of the 2016-17 season

Battling Villa fall short again

Villa have performed admirably against the Premier League’s leading lights since returning to the top flight, without earning the rewards their performances have merited.

Dean Smith’s side opened the scoring in four of their five matches against established top-six opponents this season, pushing Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United close, with only defending champions Manchester City beating them with relative comfort.

Although these displays provided plenty of encouragement, Villa earned a solitary point.

At Stamford Bridge, they again showed the basic prerequisites of hard work and organisation, but were unable to stretch Chelsea as their forays into the opposition half were limited.

A quick-thinking pass from skipper Jack Grealish, who Smith complained afterwards needs more protection from referees, was key in the attack which led to Villa’s equaliser, allowing Ahmed Elmohamady to cross to Trezeguet who bundled in at the second attempt.

Other than that, Villa rarely threatened as they managed just three shots on target in the whole match, although Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was required to deny Douglas Luiz what would have been an undeserved equaliser late on.

“We’re not far away, I don’t want to keep using the word ‘competitive’, we can be as good as these teams, we showed that in pockets,” Smith said.

“We need to be more consistent in what we do and braver on the ball.”

Man of the match – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)

N’Golo Kante was the driving force behind Chelsea’s improved performance. The France midfielder had more touches (127), made more passes (113), completed more passes (98) and made more key passes (four) than any other player. Little wonder Villa boss Dean Smith said he thought there were “three Kantes on the pitch”.

Post-match reaction

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard:

“I thought we were great. I’m pleased because that was us again, we had a blip against West Ham and today we were back.

“Our character at half-time was important and we carried off where we left off. The disappointment of the day is we didn’t score two or three.

“Villa are stubborn, have picked up results on the road and you can see why. They have good players and are well organised.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admits it’s strange to see John Terry in the opposite dugout

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith:

“I thought it was a fair result, the better team won.

“We had pockets of play throughout the game but not enough relentless pressure. We didn’t start either half well and they put us under pressure. We gave the ball away too cheaply, but got back into the game and when we showed a bit of belief we showed we could give them problems.

“They had the initiative, we knew they would start well after losing a London derby on Saturday.

“You don’t get much from officials here and I wasn’t happy with their performance tonight. Jack Grealish must have been the most-fouled player on the pitch, there were five or six not given.”

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith criticises the match officials’ performance in Chelsea loss

Chelsea continue to dominate Villa – the stats

  • Chelsea have lost just one of their last 56 Premier League home games against newly promoted teams, winning 45 and drawing 10.
  • Aston Villa have picked up just one point from their last 42 available in away games against sides starting the day in the top four.
  • Chelsea have won nine of their last 10 Premier League meetings with Aston Villa, losing the other in March 2014.
  • Chelsea have won five consecutive home league games against Aston Villa for the first time in their history.
  • Tammy Abraham has scored 11 goals in 14 Premier League appearances this season – the only Chelsea players to score more in their first 14 appearances in a single Premier League season are Diego Costa (12) in 2014-15 and Nicolas Anelka (12) in 2008-09.
  • Only Jamie Vardy (17) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season than Abraham (14 – 11 goals, 3 assists).
  • Trezeguet is the first Aston Villa player to score in three consecutive Premier League starts since Tom Cleverley in May 2015.
  • Trezeguet’s goal, assisted by Ahmed Elmohamady, is the first Premier League goal to be scored and assisted by Egyptian players.

What’s next?

Chelsea go back on the road with a trip to struggling Everton on Saturday (12:30 GMT), before Villa host second-placed Leicester City on Sunday (14:00).



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Nuno Espirito Santo is a potential replacement if Arsenal sack Unai Emery

Unai Emery’s Arsenal are eight points adrift of the top four in the Premier League

Arsenal have identified Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as a potential replacement for Unai Emery if the Gunners decide to sack the Spaniard.

Head coach Emery is under pressure after a winless run of six matches across all competitions.

Arsenal have only won four of 13 Premier League games this season.

BBC Sport understands that if Emery is sacked and Nuno is allowed to speak to Arsenal, then the Portuguese would be a strong contender to take over.

Nuno said it would be “disrespectful” to talk about being linked with Arsenal when asked in a news conference before his side’s Europa League tie against Braga on Thursday.

“I wouldn’t ever mention an issue which is not a reality,” he said. “Speaking about a job which has a manager would be disrespectful and I will not do so.”

My focus is on today and tomorrow – Emery

Emery said he still has the full support of the club, having been warned results must improve while being offered public backing by the Arsenal hierarchy earlier this month.

“Really the club is supporting me,” he said. “I feel the club, everyone responsible in that area, is backing me. Really I appreciate it a lot.

“I feel strong with that support and know my responsibility to come back and change that situation.”

The former Sevilla and Paris St-Germain boss added he is only focused on “today and tomorrow” as he prepares for his side’s Europa League match at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

“My job is to prepare for the match, to show the best performance in front of our supporters,” he said.

Arsenal go into Thursday’s game top of Group F, four points clear of both their German opponents and Standard Liege.

On Sunday, a number of Arsenal fan groups called for “urgent action” over the “state of things” at the club.

“My focus is only today and tomorrow, to do all the things that we have worked on here at the training ground,” Emery added.

“We know our supporters were disappointed by the draw against Southampton, but we have the perfect chance to reconnect with our supporters.

“Our wish is that every supporter tomorrow helps the team, we need them.”

Arsenal are also eight points adrift of the top four and 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

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Women’s Continental League Cup: Chelsea first through to knockout stage

Bethany England (right) has now scored seven goals in 10 games in all competitions this season

Chelsea became the first team through to the Women’s Continental League Cup quarter-finals after beating Tottenham 5-1 at Kingsmeadow.

Beth England scored two of Chelsea’s five second-half goals to ensure Chelsea progressed and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 games this season.

Elsewhere, there were also wins for fellow WSL sides Brighton and West Ham.

Brighton’s 5-0 win over London Bees moved them top of Group B.

The Hammers’ 3-1 win over Lewes moved them up to second in Group D behind Chelsea.

In the only all-WSL fixture of the night, Drew Spence’s early second-half goal set Chelsea up for a convincing win.

The London derby defeat was Spurs’ second in four days, having gone down 2-0 to Arsenal in front of a Women’s Super League record crowd of 38,262 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

There was nothing like that crowd at Kingsmeadow, a ground with a capacity of less than 4,900 – which itself attract a record attendance for a WSL game held at a non-Premier League stadium when 4,790 watched Chelsea overcome Manchester United on Sunday.

In the all-Championship fixtures, Charlie Estcourt scored a late winner for Charlton Athletic against London City Lionesses, while the second tier’s bottom side Coventry United held division leaders Aston Villa in a 2-2 draw before going on to earn an extra point with a penalty shootout win.

Results

Group A

  • Coventry United 2-2 Aston Villa (Coventry won penalty shootout 3-1)

Group B

  • Charlton Athletic 1-0 London City Lionesses
  • London Bees 0-5 Brighton

Group D

  • Chelsea 5-1 Tottenham
  • West Ham 3-1 Lewes

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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Saracens: Communications firm to manage fallout of salary cap scandal

Mark McCall led Saracens to a Premiership and European Champions Cup double in 2018-19

Saracens have brought in a major communications company to help manage the public fallout of the salary cap scandal, with the Premiership champions yet to formally appeal against their points deduction and fine.

Sarries are set to be docked 35 points and fined £5.36m after an inquiry into business dealings between owner Nigel Wray and some of the club’s players.

Journalists were banned from asking director of rugby Mark McCall questions about the salary cap breach during Wednesday’s regular media briefing.

The news conference was called to preview their match against Racing 92 on Saturday, when they will begin the defence of their European Champions Cup crown.

FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm, were present at the briefing and will oversee how Sarries manage the situation publicly.

McCall confirmed the club have until Monday, 18 November to officially lodge their appeal.

In a statement issued