Chelsea’s disappointing December continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge thanks to a second-half equaliser by Anwar El Ghazi.
Olivier Giroud’s ninth career goal against Villa had given Chelsea a lead that their first-half display merited, but Villa equalised in slightly controversial circumstances as Andreas Christensen lay prone on the ground following an incident earlier in the move.
And despite chances at each end in an open final half-hour, neither side were able to pick out a winner.
Frank Lampard made six changes from the team that started the loss to Arsenal on Boxing Day, and the rotation seemed to work, with the hosts playing with a verve and vigour early on that had been distinctly absent at the Emirates two days earlier.
Giroud’s opener was almost a trademark goal from the Frenchman, with his clever flick in the build-up finding Chilwell, and his low header from Chilwell’s cross picking out the bottom corner at the near post.
And Chelsea could have had more in the first half, with Pulisic missing two decent chances and Mount firing over from close range shortly before the break.
Villa threatened sporadically themselves in the first-half, with all of the positive moments coming via Jack Grealish – most notably when the Villa skipper jinked to the byline and pulled a dangerous ball back through a crowd of bodies in the box.
And Grealish was heavily involved again for El Ghazi’s equaliser, helping work the ball out to the right and drawing in the defenders to leave the goalscorer unmarked at the back post to volley between the legs of Mendy from close range.
Chelsea were left complaining about a perceived foul by Grealish on Andreas Christensen earlier in the move, with the defender still down on the ground as the ball went in, but the referee adjudged the foul to be by the Chelsea man and waved play on and there was no intervention by VAR to change the decision.
The result leaves Villa ahead of Chelsea in the table on goal difference and means Lampard’s side have taken just four points from the last five league games.