After Aston Villa's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, here are five things which became clearer about Paul Lambert's side.
Aston Villa could do little to stifle a free-flowing Chelsea side in their Premier League clash, as goals from Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian secured the table-toppers a comfortable 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge.
After taking 10 points from their opening four games, Villa have now suffered successive 3-0 defeats over the past two weeks, albeit against strong opposition in the form of Arsenal and the Blues.
The club still sit sixth in the table, despite the gloss being taken off their hot start somewhat, but there are a few important issues to ponder following this most recent loss.
Christian Benteke is desperately needed
Villa had recorded a league worst eight shots on target going into the weekend and could muster just one against Jose Mourinho’s outfit.
With Benteke close to returning to full fitness following the damaged Achilles tendon suffered in April, Paul Lambert’s side need their star man back as soon as possible in order to instil some kind of killer instinct into the lineup.
The club’s undisputed talisman since arriving from Genk in August 2012 for around £7 million, the imposing front man boasts an impressive league record of 29 goals in 60 games, and fans will hope that he can rediscover that scoring touch once back on the pitch.
… And so is Ron Vlaar
Villa somehow managed to hold onto their captain past the transfer window but his calming presence and organisational skills won’t be much use while he’s on the sidelines.
An on-going calf issue is expected to keep the Dutchman out for at least another week but, with his absence more than noticeable against Chelsea, the club will be hoping that he can return sooner than anticipated for next Saturday’s clash with Manchester City at Villa Park.
Tom Cleverley has to show more
The Manchester United loanee has kept the ball well over his three appearances for the club so far, but it’s not hard to see how he became a target for criticism during his time at Old Trafford with such passive and forgettable outings.
If Villa are going to make his switch permanent down the road then he’ll need to demonstrate at least some creative skills, or the reported £7.5 million fee will end up looking like a complete waste.
Fabian Delph’s career resurgence continues
If there was one positive to take from the Chelsea match then it was no doubt the performance of Delph.
While the now-England international could do little to influence the result, he once against stood out with his tireless attitude, surging runs and neat footwork, despite facing perhaps the strongest midfield in the division.
With his contract set to expire next summer, it’s paramount that Villa tie him down to a new deal as soon as possible.
Lambert should let Jack Grealish loose
It’s somewhat understandable that Lambert has kept Grealish on short leash so far this season, given his tender age, but at some point the Scot has to give the club’s most promising prospect a chance to show what he can do with significant minutes.
While it remains too soon for him to be starting in these kinds of games, with the team 2-0 down on 60 minutes, why not give the 19-year-old winger an opportunity to earn some valuable top-flight experience?