An emotional prelude to the match as Villa’s captain, Stiliyan “Stan” Petrov diagnosed with acute leukemia was given a show of overwhelming support from fans and players from both sides.
Petrov was in the stands to see his team take on Chelsea and the warm up saw players wearing “Support Stan” T-shirts. In the 19th minute, a sustained round of applause greeted his jersey number as a visibly moved Petrov acknowledged the support of the Villa Park faithfuls. The Bulgarian midfielder begins treatment on Monday in London.
Chelsea continued its turnaround under Roberto De Matteo with some moribund players like Daniel Sturridge finding their scoring touch. Branislav Ivanovic contributed a brace but the biggest accolades were left for Fernando Torres scoring a stoppage time goal. Villa made a fight of it as James Collins tonked in Eric Lichaj’s long throw and then the American wing back guided Marc Albrighton’s cross for Villa’s leveler.
Much has been written off RDM’s player management skills perhaps a trifle gentler and more flexible than Andre Villa- Boas. It seems to have elicited the right response from the players. But one wonders what AVB did right at Porto taking them to the top in his first season without a single loss? More it says to the prima donnas habituating Chelsea who need their egos to be stroked. RDM has made it less about him and more about them.