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Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 0: Pochettino’s need for striker laid bare as Blues draw blank in Stamford Bridge stalemate

EMI MARTINEZ produced a world class performance between the sticks but should not expect a pat on the back from Villa boss Unai Emery.

His one-man shut out mission means these two Premier League sides must go through it all again in a fourth round replay in Birmingham the week after next.

Chelsea and Aston Villa face an FA Cup replay after a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge

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Chelsea and Aston Villa face an FA Cup replay after a 0-0 draw at Stamford BridgeCredit: AP
Both sides had plenty of chances but neither could find a breakthrough

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Both sides had plenty of chances but neither could find a breakthroughCredit: Getty

Emery can say all he likes in public about his keeper’s Man of the Match display – in private he will be as frustrated as Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino over a repeat performance.

Cup replays are seen as a necessary evil in the days where Premier League points mean so much more than the sideshow of the FA Cup, which is sad.

But politics aside, Martinez succeeded in his personal quest to keep a steadily improving Chelsea team at bay with a show of bravery and reaction that is key to Villa’s impressive longevity this season.

They will be favourites to go through in the return at Villa Park for sure.

At least half a dozen times the Argentine World Cup winner was on hand, on foot, in fact on every part of his anatomy to block the way to goal on a night when his team was under the cosh for long periods.

For Chelsea, the euphoria of reaching the Carabao Cup final on Tuesday has given them a vast injection of self-confidence,

However, they were made to work much harder last night than against Championship Middlesbrough in midweek when they ran in six goals.

At least both managers gave the Cup its due respect by fielding strong line ups.

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Chelsea in particular could have used Tuesday’s semi final second leg as an excuse to roll out the B-listers.

In a much-needed boost for Pochettino he was also able to welcome back Beniot Badiashile from injury for his first game since December 27.

But as ever with Chelsea these days, it was one step forwards and one back as his defensive team-mate Levi Colwill got injured in the warm up.

That meant a last-minute swap with rookie right-sided defender Alfie Gilchrist starting his second successive Cup game.

In turn Badiashile shuffled along and slotted in as emergency left back in Colwill’s absence, even though Ben Chilwell was on the bench.

If that left the home side’s defence in a muddle, it certainly showed when Villa took what they thought was the justified lead in the 12th minute.

A downward barrelling header from Youri Tielemans inside the six yard box was punched over the bar by Chelsea keeper Djordje Petrovic.

From the corner Douglas Luiz and John McGinn worked a neat trick to switch places and work the ball swiftly to the edge of the box with Chelsea’s defenders off guard.

A curling shot by Moussa Diaby cannoned off the head of young Gilchrist and into the path of Luiz who merely had to bundle the ball over the line.

Only VAR saw otherwise and after a thirty second check scrubbed out Villa’s brief lead.

The let off sparked a reaction from Chelsea, who upped a gear or two going forwards to put Villa under pressure for most of the first half after that.

But with two successive clean sheets, Villa keeper Martinez is in buoyant mood and was in no mood to give up his run of form easily.

In the first half alone he threw his legs in the way of a shot by Noni Madueke from point blank range. Moments later he denied the normally precise Cole Palmer from putting Chesea ahead.

Madueke was frustrated again on the half hour mark with what would have been the best move and goal of the night.

Raheem Sterling and Palmer combined on the left with the latter cutting the ball back from the by-line straight into the path of his England youth team pal.

But Madueke was thwarted once more when Martinez plonked his sizeable frame in the path of the resultant shot to keep Villa on level terms once more.

And the South American wasn’t finished there. Grabbing a dangerous cross from Gallagher out on the right prevented a dangerous situation and he dived bravely at the feet of the advancing Sterling two minutes before the break.

And when Chelsea threw the big boys up front with Badiashile climbing to power a header towards goal from inside six yards, Villa’s last man was there again to see off the threat.

Even when a mistake came in the second half – and it was a biggy – Lady Luck was smiling on Martinez.

His attempted clearance from goal failed to achieve lift off and the ball smacked into the back of unsuspecting Palmer.

When gravity brought it earthwards, Pochettino’s £40m player tried to side-foot volley his shot and it ended up trickling harmlessly through to the grateful Villa stopper.

Matinez was also at his sharpest seven minutes from time when an underhit back pass by Boubacar Kamara put Conor Gallagher clean through but Martinez showed nifty footwork to beat him to the ball and hoof it clear.

When Villa did threaten they found Chelsea keeper Djordje Petrovic in almost as good form as Martinez at the other end. The Serb’s best effort was blocking a powerful shot by Matty Cash.

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