Chelsea’s title hopes took a huge hit after losing at Villa Park on Saturday, in an ill-tempered game that saw two players and manager Jose Mourinho sent off.
Chelsea, who had a goal disallowed for offside late in the first half, went reduced to 10 men when Willian received a harsh second yellow card. Villa midfielder Fabien Delph hit the winner after a breakaway before Ramires and Jose Mourinho were sent off in added time.
The Blues boss was sent to the stands after coming onto the pitch during the fracas following a two-footed challenge by Ramires on Karim El Ahmadi. Chris Foy has now sent off six Chelsea players in the last eight games he’s refereed for them, plus Mourinho.
After that defeat Mourinho’s side sit six points ahead of Manchester City, who have three games in hand and are now favourites for the title following their 2-0 win at Hull. It means Mourinho’s claims before the game that they weren’t really league leaders look even more true now.
The game started as a quite drab affair, with little happening before Nemanja Matic was denied what would have been his first Chelsea goal in his second spell at the club after he handled the ball before finishing.
Chelsea’s attacking trio of Oscar, Willian and Eden Hazard were brighter after the break, until Willian tripped Delph and received his second yellow card. Chelsea continued to press with their 10 men but they were hit on the break with just eight minutes to go. Marc Albrighton sent a low cross across to Delph, who managed to back-heel the ball past Petr Cech and into the bottom corner.
Chelsea’s day got even worse when Ramires saw red during stoppage time for an ugly lunge on El Ahmadi. After that, tensions boiled over on the pitch as both benches ran towards the ref. Mourinho, who has now not won in five visits to Villa Park, was sent to the stands for his part in it.
The Portuguese manager didn’t want to comment on Chris Foy’s perfromance, but he left no one in any doubt about his anger over the sending off. “I prefer not to comment because I don’t want to bring the game into disrepute,” said Mourinho. “I prefer not to speak. If I speak I am in big trouble.”
“I ask, ‘If you can give me just five seconds, Mr Foy?’ [But he said] ‘No.’ So I have to go home and close my mouth.”
The Chelsea manager went on to say, “It’s a big occasion for me to know about the character of Mr Foy, because I want to know what he’s going to write about my sending off. I was two, three metres inside the pitch or four, five metres, but there was like 10 persons there. It was me, my two assistants, Paul Lambert, Paul’s assistants.”
And despite saying he would keep his mouth closed, he didn’t, going on to question the decision: “So if I was sent off because I was on the pitch, I ask why not the others, especially one player that made an aggression on another one, Agbonlahor on Ramires? Agbonlahor came from the dug out, he went to Ramires pulled him from his neck and Agbonlahor was not on pitch he was on the bench.” All in all, it was certainly not a special day for the Special One.