Aston Villa's roller coaster ride of a season continued on Sunday, when they were comprehensively dismantled by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chris Herd had a shocker, but he wasn't helped by any of his mates.
Aston Villa should have known nothing would go their way from the first minute, when Chris Herd fouled Fernando Torres to give Chelsea a free kick just outside the area. The Villa wall did well to keep out Frank Lampard's kick, but that's about the last time anything went right.
Chelsea scored their first goal inside three minutes, with a brilliant header from Torres. There was absolutely nothing Brad Guzan could have done to stop the ball from going in, but Herd could have certainly done better in marking the Chelsea forward.
In the 9th minute, the Villa defense very nearly turned the ball into their own net when trying to cut out a ball from Victor Moses. Fortunately, Guzan was alert and readily dismissed the danger.
The visitors managed to keep the score at 1-0 for nearly 30 minutes. Then Herd struck once again, fouling Eden Hazard in almost the exact spot he took down Torres. But there was nothing that could be done about the free kick from David Luiz. It was distressingly pretty, flying over the wall to curl into the top corner.
Still, 2-0 against Chelsea at the Bridge would be a respectable scoreline. Unfortunately, Villa conceded yet another, in the 34th minute. I'm sure there's some way to blame Herd for this one, as well, although I confess my eyes were screwed up with rage. Guzan made a fantastic save to deny a shot from Gary Cahill, but the ball fell straight to Branislav Ivanovic. The defender instinctively headed straight on into the net. Should Herd have been marking? Someone certainly was failing on his mission.
Villa ended the first half without even a shot on goal. At one point, shortly before the whistle, Barry Bannan sent the ball into the first row of seats, but that's not much help when you're not playing quiddich.
The Villa may have had more chances had Christian Benteke managed to keep himself onside. As it was, the first shot on target came in the 52nd minute, when Matthew Lowton got on the end of a ball from Brett Holman only to see his shot denied.
Then came an onslaught of shots from the Blues. There was only so long that Guzan, apparently single-handledly attempting to rescue the Villa, could withstand the pressure. He caved in the 58th minute, when Lampard sent in a lovely ball from distance. The ball, of course, went straight through the Villa defense with nary a glance, caught Guzan wrong-footed and settled into the back of the net.
At this point I pretty much stopped watching, but the noise of the Chelsea supporters in the bar braying for blood made me glance up for the final FOUR goals. The fifth came in the 75th, when Ramires knocked in a ball that didn't look particularly remarkable.
The sixth goal was once again the fault of Chris Herd. For some reason, the Aussie decided it might be a good idea to put out an arm and drag Oscar down inside the area. Considering Phil Dowd was in charge, of course it was a penalty. Oscar took it himself, 6-0.
I have really no idea what happened for the seventh goal, except that it was scored by Hazard and it looked like it was hit pretty hard. For the most part, my head was buried in my arms and my tears littered the tabletop.
The one moment of pride for Villa fans occurred when the Villa conceded ANOTHER penalty. This time it was Ciaran Clark who fouled Lucas Piazon. Guzan ended the youngster's dream debut, however, with an excellent save on the peanlty shot.
But of course it wasn't over. No no no. Villa wanted to make this the most painful match ever experienced. The eighth goal came from Ramires. I have no idea what happened.