Manchester City have to win tough games in hand over Arsenal and Liverpool to go top of the Premier League table, but a window for them to eventually capture that spot opened up on Saturday. Partially thanks to some questionable officiating and partially thanks to a brilliant goal, Aston Villa were able to down Chelsea, 1-0, and the Blues finished the game on just 10 men.
The first half was largely dull, but Chelsea thought they'd scored in the 41st minute. Off a corner, Nemanja Matic took the ball down with his lower shoulder or his upper arm, depending on your perspective, before beating Brad Guzan to the near post. Referee Chris Foy ruled that the ball had struck Matic's arm and the goal was disallowed.
With the second half slogging along just like the first, Jose Mourinho decided to make changes, bringing on Andre Schürrle and Demba Ba for Fernando Torres and Oscar, giving his team more physical presence.
Mourinho nearly brought off Willian, but left him on, which he came to regret a minute later. The Brazilian was already on a yellow card when he was booked for fouling Fabian Delph and sent off, taking Chelsea down to 10 men just after they made two substitutions.
At first, Villa looked like they didn't know exactly what to do, and Chelsea continued to dominate possession. But eventually, after Marc Albrighton came on for Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa picked up the pace and started to threaten Chelsea. Eventually, that led to a goal that was equal parts luck and skill.
Delph was both the scorer and the architect of the move, starting the attack with a surging run through the center and a pass out wide for Albrighton. The Villa winger returned the ball to Delph, who hit an audacious running backheel from the center of the penalty area to beat Petr Cech and put his team ahead.
The game ended in heated fashion, with Foy making another controversial decision. Ramires was shown a straight red card for a stomp on Karim El Ahmadi, though it appeared unintentional and not reckless. The incident sparked a fight between the players that led to Mourinho leaving his technical area and eventually getting sent off himself.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bennett (Clark 78'), Vlaar, Baker, Bacuna, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph, Weimann, Benteke, Agbonlahor (Albrighton 75')
Goals: Delph (82')
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Matic, Ramires (red 90), Hazard, Oscar (Schürrle 67'), Willian (red 68), Torres (Ba 67')