Mauricio Pochettino ordered Chelsea’s players to ‘grow up’ after Ollie Watkins’ winner deepened the gloom at Stamford Bridge.
The Argentine watched in frustration as his expensively assembled group misfired again as Aston Villa claimed a 1-0 victory. Pochettino was upset after Malo Gusto picked up a red card for violent conduct, catching Villa defender Lucas Digne high on the follow-through ten minutes after the interval.
And a needless fifth booking for striker Nicolas Jackson has left him short up front with the striker now facing a one-game suspension. He said: “We’ve been talking – and I think we need to grow up as a team, not only as individuals. Players like Nicolas are so young and feeling the Premier League and he is learning.
“We are competing and want to win – but players need to learn from experience and from making mistakes. That’s why we’re disappointed – we’ve got too many things like this. These things, this small detail – another small detail – end in the end we are losing a game.We are in a situation – and we need to change it as soon as possible.”
Asked about the reaction of the owners after just one victory in their opening six games, the club’s boss added: “Of course, they’re disappointed. They arrived at the club and were so excited to build this project and, of course, they feel disappointed but they need to support the plan.”
Gusto received his marching orders ten minutes after the interval. The game was in the balance until then but Villa broke away 17 minutes from time and Watkins scored at the second attempt after his initial shot was blocked.
Pochettino said: “I cannot say it wasn’t a red card. In the end, we need to trust the referees and VAR. It’s our responsibility and the players’ responsibility. We cannot blame the VAR or the referee. In this situation, we need to act differently.”
Opposite number Unai Emery saluted Villa’s defence after finally keeping a shut-out away from home. The Spaniard was delighted with his side following their midweek hiccup in the Europa Conference League.
This clean sheet was their first on their travels this season after they leaked eight in visits to St James’s Park and Anfield – and three on their opening group game in midweek at Legia Warsaw. Emery said: “We’ve played at two top-seven teams – Newcastle and Liverpool – and we haven’t been competitive.
“We didn’t keep a clean sheet either at Legia Warsaw. We were very concerned about this match. We wanted to win – and win with a clean sheet. Sometimes we needed our keeper Emiliano Martinez – but we were stronger defensively and kept possession when we needed.”