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’s men have now won just one of their last five league games to fall six points behind leaders Liverpool in sixth and having played a game more than the champions.
Chelsea also trail Villa on goal difference, despite Dean Smith’s men having two games in hand, and the visitors were well worthy of a point.
“Now it’s a tough moment and you have to fight through it,” said Lampard. “Nobody let me down tonight, everyone worked, we just didn’t quite get the rub of the green.”
Lampard was able to make six changes from the side beaten at Arsenal 48 hours ago.
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, 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.
“I’m still yet to see a player carried off the pitch with exhaustion,” said Smith. “I’m a big believer in you want to play every game and if they are doing well keep playing them.”