Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: Player ratings as Fernandez inspires surprise FA Cup win

  • Chelsea bounced back from back-to-back Premier League defeats
  • Gallagher, Jackson and Fernandez all scored in FA Cup replay
  • Aston Villa unusually underperformed in fourth round game at Villa Park

Enzo Fernandez demonstrated his commitment to Chelsea
Enzo Fernandez demonstrated his commitment to Chelsea / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Chelsea cruised into the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night thanks to a surprise one-sided win over Aston Villa in a fourth round replay at Villa Park.

Conor Gallagher’s first goal of the season early in the game set the tone for a dominant night, with Nicolas Jackson netting on his first start since returning from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations and Enzo Fernandez putting the game out of sight for Villa soon after half-time.

One back from Villa substitute Moussa Diaby in stoppage time served to take the sheen off the Chelsea win but was scant consolation for Unai Emery’s side.

Chelsea now go on to face Leeds United for a place in the quarter-finals at the end of this month.

How the game unfolded

Chelsea came into the tie off the back of a humbling Premier League defeat at the hands of Wolves at the weekend, yet the early spark seen from Mauricio Pochettino’s side certainly wouldn’t have suggested that had been the case.

Bizarrely, the opposite was true of a sluggish Villa following their annihilation of Sheffield United.

Fernandez, whose agent had to speak out ahead of the game to quash rumours of a Chelsea exit, impressed throughout and delivered an early warning sign when a close-range header was grasped by fellow countryman Emiliano Martinez in the home goal.

There wasn’t much of a wait for Gallagher’s 11th minute opener and Fernandez was involved again, winning the ball back just inside the Villa half. Jackson took it on down the left, with Noni Madueke laying it back to Gallagher to finish from the edge of the box.

Villa could have hit back instantly when Leon Bailey fired straight at Djordje Petrovic a Chelsea struggled to clear, with Ollie Watkins also stinging the palms of the Serbian stopper.

But it was quickly 2-0 and the hosts won’t have been pleased with how easy Chelsea scored it. Madueke had far too much room to run into down the Blues’ right flank, isolating Villa left-back Alex Moreno as Malo Gusto got forward in support. The overlapping Frenchman put the ball into a good area and Jackson ghosted between defenders in the box for a simple header.

A surprisingly disjointed Villa threatened briefly again as John McGinn was found in space on the left of Chelsea’s box, with his finish lacking conviction and comfortably tipped over.

Fernandez’s world class free-kick early in the second half ended things as a contest and was exactly the moment his overall performance deserved, picking out the very top corner over the wall.

Villa seemed to largely accept their fate after that point, although forays forward presented a half chance for Watkins and another opening that needed a superb block from Axel Disasi to preserve the clean sheet for the visitors.

Alex Moreno also clipped the bar, but Chelsea with their sizeable cushion were content to let them have more of the ball and were eventually punished for it when Diaby found a pocket of space on the edge of the box and delivered a low shot out of reach into the bottom corner, in off the post.

Aston Villa player ratings (4-4-2)

Moussa Diaby
Moussa Diaby struck late for Villa / Clive Mason/GettyImages

GK: Emiliano Martinez - 5/10 - Made some saves but stood no chance with the goals, although Fernandez's outstanding free-kick brushed his fingertips.

RB: Matty Cash - 5/10 - When he was able to get forward, Villa made chances. It just didn't happen enough until it was too late.

CB: Diego Carlos - 5/10 - Let Jackson get away from him for the second Chelsea goal.

CB: Clement Lenglet - 5/10 - Lost possession a little too easily with attempted long passes.

LB: Alex Moreno - 5/10 - Struggled against the direct threat of Madueke.

RM: Leon Bailey - 6/10 - A reasonable threat if a little in and out of the game.

CM: Boubacar Kamara - 6/10 - Stopped Chelsea being even more dominant but equally no match for Caicedo and Fernandez this time.

CM: Douglas Luiz - 4/10 - Didn't win any tackles and successful in fewer than half his personal duels.

LM: John McGinn (c) - 5/10 - Could have scored in first half stoppage time, but overall lacked the ball.

ST: Youri Tielemans - 4/10 - Tried to stay as close to Watkins as possible but served little purpose.

ST: Ollie Watkins - 6/10 - Not involved consistently enough, although chances did fall his way.


SUB: Jacob Ramsey (71' for Tielemans) - 6/10

SUB: Moussa Diaby (72' for McGinn) - 7/10

SUB: Tim Iroegbunam (87' for Kamara) - N/A

SUB: Nicolo Zaniolo (88' for Bailey) - N/A

Subs not used: Robin Olsen (GK), James Wright (GK), Pau Torrs, Calum Chambers, Omari Kellyman


Unai Emery - 5/10 - Waited a surprisingly long time to make any changes and his team were unusually sluggish.

Chelsea player ratings (4-2-3-1)

Nicolas Jackson
Nicolas Jackson was back in the starting XI / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

GK: Djordje Petrovic - 6/10 - Made a couple of decent saves right after the opening goal to stop Villa getting straight back on level terms.

RB: Malo Gusto - 7/10 - Comes away with an assista after a decent display.

CB: Axel Disasi - 7/10 - A much better centre-back than he is right-back.

CB: Benoit Badiashile - 6/10 - Hobbled off near the end.

LB: Ben Chilwell (c) - 6/10 - Led his team to a confidence-boosting win.

CM: Moises Caicedo - 8/10 - Stamped his authority in midfield.

CM: Enzo Fernandez - 9/10 - Ran the show on both sides of the ball. Capped of an already stunning performance with an outstanding free-kick.

RM: Noni Madueke - 8/10 - Lacked finesse but still effective so it didn't really matter.

AM: Conor Gallagher - 8/10 - Played with a drive and maturity and set the tone early on.

LM: Nicolas Jackson - 8/10 - Pleased to be on the scoresheet himself, having already helped make the opening goal for Gallagher.

ST: Cole Palmer - 7/10 - Largely played a false nine role.


SUB: Raheem Sterling (75' for Madueke) - 6/10

SUB: Thiago Silva (81' for Palmer) - N/A

SUB: Christopher Nkunku (87' for Jackson) - N/A

SUB: Alfie Gilchrist (87' for Badiashile) - N/A

Subs not used: Marcus Bettinelli (GK), Lucas Bergstrom (GK), Ishe Samuels-Smith, Carney Chukwuemeka, Mykhailo Mudryk


Mauricio Pochettino - 9/10 - Kept his cool amid all the recent pressure and set his up brilliantly for a statement performance.

Player of the match - Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea)