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Chelsea struggle against Villa

An added-time header from Ciaran Clark rescued a point for Aston Villa in a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Villa, who had lost five of their previous six Premier League matches, appeared to be on their way to a much-needed victory when Emile Heskey rose above Jeffrey Bruma to power in Stewart Downing’s cross. That put Gérard Houllier’s team 2-1 up, Ashley Young having equalised from the spot after Frank Lampard had given Chelsea the lead with a penalty of his own midway through the first half.

With the game entering its closing stages, Didier Drogba squeezed in a shot from close range to equalise and John Terry then stroked in the rebound following a save from Brad Friedel. However, just as Chelsea were savouring the prospect of back-to-back wins, the unmarked Clark guided in Marc Albrighton’s teasing delivery.

That leaves Chelsea, winners of just one of their last eight league fixtures, in fifth, six points off the pace, while Villa are 15th, two places above the relegation zone.

If the season ended today, neither Chelsea and Liverpool would not be playing in the Champions League next season. So much for the so called Big Four.

In Sunday’s other game, Newcastle moved back into the top half of the Premier League thanks as Shola Ameobi’s close-range finish gave them a 1-0 victory at Wigan.

Ameobi, in the Magpies side as a replacement for injured top-scorer Andy Carroll, pounced in the 19th minute when Ali Al Habsi blocked Joey Barton’s shot and Peter Lovenkrands’ follow-up hit the post.

Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor also both struck the woodwork for the visitors, while Gary Caldwell saw his header come back off the bar for the Latics.