Chelsea 4 - 4 Aston Villa

Scorers: Shevchenko (pen 45+4, 49), Alex (65), Ballack (87), Maloney (13, 43), Laursen (72), Barry (pen 90+2).

Starting eleven:
Ferreira, Alex, Carvalho, A.Cole
J.Cole, Essein, Lampard, Kalou
Shevchenko, Pizzaro

I was late to post this post-match report because I was seriously thinking of going to the doctor. Reason : depression. I was too much drained emotionally to write. I felt a lot better after punching my brother for no particular reason( He was cheering for ManU when they scored against Sunderland).

Astonishing, Exciting, nerve-breaking, Invigorating but ultimately disappointing Boxing day it was. The day began well. Cech was back in the starting eleven. The question to whether he was fully fit would certainly be asked later in the day. But when the match began, Cech's presence was certainly a boost. Villa took the lead in 13minutes, which was coming anyway because they had more possession and seemed more likely to score. Disaster first stuck midway in the first half when Lampard was replaced by Ballack due to a thigh injury. I didn't mean the return of Ballack was a disaster, but an injury to Lampard certainly is. Disaster stuck again after 43minutes when Cech couldn't hold on to a routine save, a low drive from Maloney. The Scot thus got his second goal. But he was substituted at half time to strengthen the defense when Zat Knight was sent-off for a foul on Ballack inside the area just before half-time. Shevchenko converted and Chelsea were trailing 2-1 at halftime.

The second half was entertaining and fast paced. Chelsea attacked and soon found the net with a Shevchenko goal, one of the best goals Stamford Bridge has seen this season. Then the Ukrainian received and then fed Alex for him to ease past Davies and score Chelsea's third. This is where I feel Grant should have shut the game by making some tactical changes. He didn't and Villa scored their equalizer when Laursen volleyed from a freekick. Wright-Phillips and Mikel came in for Shevchenko and Pizzaro after Carvalho was sent-off for a two footed challenge on Agbonlahor. Team numbers were even once again.

Then came a blaster from Ballack from the edge of the area after Joe Cole was fouled and freekick was awarded. A final attack from Villa saw Ashely Cole's goal line clearance touch his arm. After much arguing a red card and a penalty followed. Gareth Barry made no mistake. Cech wasted the opportunity to redeem himself from the costly mistake earlier. I fell to the floor from the edge of the couch, where I had been sitting for over 90minutes.

It was a very damaging result. Chelsea have slipped further away from league toppers, and with African Nations Cup coming in January, things are looking bad for us. Without Drogba and Terry, to think it would be a walk in the park against Marin o Neil...my mistake. But considering that even Lampard was injured it was a good performance in some way. Chelsea just couldn't counter the aerial presence of Carew without Terry and couldn't cope with the pace of Agbonlahor. And with Carvalho and Cole suspended for three matches, it would be interesting to see what Grant does. Chelsea will have to dig deep into the reserves. Mourinho didn't give us beautiful football, but he certainly gave us victories. Avram Grant has a lot to prove in the coming days.