Dean Smith has explained how he implored Chelsea match-winner Romelu Lukaku to have a week off as the Belgian made his side pay with his well-taken brace.
Lukaku opened the scoring against a brave and bullish Villa side before wrapping it up with the home side’s third in stoppage time.
Afterwards, the striker enjoyed a chat with Villa boss Smith, who said: “He was clinical. I just said couldn’t you have kept that thigh injury a little bit longer but, unfortunately, he said no and he said he was itching to play.”
Villa registered an impressive 18 shots on Chelsea’s goal compared to their 12 while they had six on target – two more than Thomas Tuchel’s side.
However, Lukaku capitalised after Mateo Kovacic carved Villa open before the Croatian made it two as he jumped on an error by Tyrone Mings after the break before Lukaku thumped home to make it 3-0.
Of his side’s performance, Smith said: “Up until the second goal I was really pleased with the performance and we asked a lot of questions of a really good team. We were the better team in the first half.
“Some of our football was excellent but the second goal killed the game. It felt unjust at the end. That second goal was the killer.
“I’m frustrated with the scoreline. I felt three goals was unjust. I feel that with the squad that we have available to me, we no longer have to have a deep block and look to counter attack like we did when we first got promoted. Now we can go and ask questions. The second goal just took the wind out of our sails while Ollie Watkins will wonder how he never scored.”
Smith added: “We had a gameplan coming into this game and every game will be different. We wanted to put pressure on and win the ball in their half and we created some good chances in doing that. Our centre-halves were on the front foot but we got done.
“We wanted to take the fight to Chelsea and, had we taken our moments, it might have been a different story.”
The manager was asked about referee Stuart Attwell’s display as Villa saw four players carded to Chelsea’s one.
“You have to be consistent with your decisions,” he said. “I have no problem with him booking Ramsey or Tyrone Mings but he’s got to be consistent if Chelsea are doing those fouls as well. For me, there were just too many inconsistencies.”