BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Mason Mount and Kepa Arrizabalaga were Chelsea’s stars as they helped to maintain Graham Potter’s unbeaten start in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Mount bagged a brace at Villa Park in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate.
But the visitors needed goalkeeper Kepa to produce two stunning first-half stops to deny Jacob Ramsey and Danny Ings with Chelsea on the ropes.
The Blues have now won their last five games in all competitions — keeping four clean sheets — and consolidated fourth spot in the league.
Defeat was harsh on an improved Villa, which rattled Chelsea but slipped closer to the drop zone. Manager Steven Gerrard joined Villa when the club was 16th and two points above the relegation zone. It’s now 16th and a point above the bottom three almost 12 months into his reign.
Chelsea was gifted a sixth-minute lead thanks to calamitous defending from Tyrone Mings.
Ramsey hardly covered himself in glory as he allowed Ben Chilwell to get past him and a half-hearted tackle only helped the ball loop toward Mings. The defender was alone but completely miscued his header and it spun backwards for Mount to volley past an exposed Emi Martinez in the Villa goal.
Chelsea, without the injured Reece James and Wesley Fofana, was vulnerable at the back and needed an outstanding save from Kepa to stay ahead after 21 minutes. Ollie Watkins wriggled free on the left and cut back for John McGinn to fire at Kepa, the ball ran to Ramsey to force the goalkeeper into a brilliant low stop, turning the strike onto the post. He then recovered to brilliantly save from Ings, although the striker was flagged offside.
McGinn tested Kepa again when he muscled Thiago Silva off the ball only to shoot at the goalkeeper.
Kepa saved his best for the 33rd when Leon Bailey got the better of Chilwell and stood up a cross for Ings four yards out. It looked a certain goal as the striker got between Silva and Trevoh Chalobah but Kepa stuck out an arm to brilliantly turn the header over.
Watkins glanced wide before Mount delivered a sucker punch after 65 minutes. He was taken down by Mings 25 yards out and fired in a brilliant free kick that beat Martinez.
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