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Ron Jones reports
"This was pretty ordinary fare and a draw was a fair result"
 real 28k

Saturday, 22 January, 2000, 18:49 GMT
Villa draw a blank

Joachim Villa's Julian Joachim on a charge

Aston Villa 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea and Aston Villa both misfired in a goalless draw at Villa Park.

Chelsea largely flattered to deceive and George Weah apart, none of the seven players who played up front at differing points of the game looked like breaking the deadlock.

merson Paul Merson skips past Deschamps
In a scrappy opening spell, the closest that Villa came to scoring was when Blues keeper Ed De Goey allowed a pass-back by Emerson Thome to slip under his foot.

The Dutchman only just recovered in time to stop the whole of the ball crossing the goal-line and he was also indebted to promising youngster Jon Harley for deflecting a close-range shot by Ugo Ehiogu over the bar.

With neither side able to put the finishing touch to a number of isolated chances - the game was in danger of fizzing out.

Chris Sutton struck a half-volley with some venom but it was blocked by Gareth Barry - with the centre-forward's appeals for handball going unheeded - and Sutton was himself hit in the face by a ferocious shot from Gareth Southgate.

Indeed, there was an element of shadow-boxing about the proceedings and Darius Vassell's most immediate impact as a half-time replacement for Julian Joachim was to catch Frank Leboeuf's thigh.

Poyet and Boateng challenge for the ball
The Frenchman, never one to keep quiet about his feelings that the Premiership is too violent, limped off to be replaced by Jes Hogh while Steve Watson also went off after injuring himself as he headed a free-kick just wide.

Vassell was himself the next casualty as he was stretchered off with a hamstring injury and any semblance of quality was disappearing as quickly as players to the treatment room.

Gianfranco Zola and Tore Andre Flo were therefore called upon with 16 minutes left but after Merson had volleyed wide, it was Ehiogu who had a practically open goal in front of him only to head into the ground and wide.

It was just one of those days in front of goal - and both Chelsea and Villa are having too many of them.


Aston Villa: James, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Watson, Taylor, Boateng, Merson, Wright, Joachim, Carbone.
Subs: Thompson, Vassell, Delaney, Stone, Cutler.

Chelsea: De Goey, Lambourde, Leboeuf, Thome, Harley, Morris, Wise, Deschamps, Poyet, Weah, Sutton.
Subs: Hogh, Ambrosetti, Flo, Zola, Cudicini.

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester Le Street

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Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.