Fallible James Kickstarts Chelsea's Year  (Sky Sports)  

David JamesChelsea 1-0 Aston Villa
Hasselbaink 45
FA Carling Premiership

Joe Bernstein reporting

Aston Villa fans suffered the best and worst of David James as Claudio Ranieris gamble of dropping Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise and Ed de Goey paid dividends for Chelsea.

James, who recently put in and then withdrew a transfer request to leave Villa Park, was faultless apart from one horror moment on the stroke of half-time that cost his side the points.

The England goalkeeper sliced an attempted clearance straight to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who profitted for his 13th goal of the season. The Dutchmans stab towards an empty goal was hacked away by Gareth Southgate but referee Paul Durkin with the help of his assistant judged the shot to have crossed the line.

Gleeful Chelsea fans chanted dodgy keeper at James remembering the keepers mistake in last seasons FA Cup Final when he dropped a cross at the feet of Roberto Di Matteo for Chelseas winner.

Apart from the kicking howler, James showed why he is so highly-rated by manager John Gregory. He was positive and brave in rushing out of his area to head away from the marauding Hasselbaink early on. And agile and athletic in turning away a forceful Gus Poyet header at point-blank range.

Ranieris youthful Chelsea without the suspended Marcel Desailly and trio of famous substitutes dominated most of the game at the Bridge.

In-form Eidur Gudjohnsen whacked a John Harley cross wide from eight yards and Hasselbaink rattled the Villa crossbar with a strike of awesome power after cutting inside Gareth Southgate. The impressive Sam Dalla Bonna failed to keep the rebound down..

Chelsea keeper Carlo Cudicini only saw action sparingly. But when Gilles de Bilde broke away early in the second half, the Italian narrowed the angle well and blocked the Villa strikers shot with his legs.

While Ian Taylor failed to make the most with a header from six yards only 30 seconds after Hasselbainks winner.

Zola was brought on for Hasselbaink with 15 minutes left and Dennis Wise and Albert Ferrer were also introduced as Ranieri shut up shop. Villa gave a debut to late substitute John McGrath.

James tried to make amends for his earlier error by joining the attack for a last-minute corner. He managed to get his dyed-blond head onto Paul Mersons free-kick but failed to land it on target.

Chelsea: Cudicini, Leboeuf, Terry, Melchiot, Harley (Wise 89), Poyet, Jokanovic, Morris, Dalla Bona, Gudjohnsen (Ferrer 87), Hasselbaink (Zola 79)
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Lambourde.
Goal: Hasselbaink 45

Aston Villa: James, Delaney, Wright, Southgate, Staunton, Boateng, Merson, Stone, Taylor, Dublin (Vassell 76), De Bilde
Subs Not Used: McGrath, Standing, Samuel, Enckelman
Booked: Taylor

Att: 33,159
Ref: P Durkin (Dorset)

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