Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 0

When Premier League form books were given out last month, someone obviously omitted to give Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill a copy.

Here, his vibrant side cast aside Chelsea and all their statistics with an incredibly brave display. Prior to kick-off, fans had been told how the game was Chelsea's chance to notch up their 1,500th Premier League win.

Chelsea, we were told, would also go back to the top of the table but someone also forgot to remind the pundits that Chelsea hadn't won at Villa Park for eight years. And in the end, it was that latter statistic which was to be upheld at the final whistle as O'Neill's young guns ruined the form guide and snatched all three points.

Villa made two major changes from the side which beat Fulham last week, debutant Zat Knight given a centre-back's role alongside Martin Laursen, with Olof Mellberg moving to right-back.

Craig Gardner was the casualty while Stiliyan Petrov was also relegated to the bench, with Luke Moore coming in alongside John Carew up front.

And from the off, it appeared this was going to be a game played at some tempo, with both goalkeepers being severely tested within minutes of referee Mark Clattenburg signalling the start of play.

Just four minutes into the game, Michael Essien came close to opening the visitors' account but his shot was deflected just past Scott Carson's post and then Mellberg twice had to spare Villa's blushes as Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda went close.

It was then Villa's turn to threaten with Wilfred Bouma — celebrating his 50th game in a Villa shirt — making great strides on the left. He threaded an inch-perfect pass through to Gabriel Agbonlahor who fired straight at the Chelsea goal, only to force a fine save from Petr Cech.

Carew then found space on the wing and fired the ball across the box, but his pass-cum-shot was easily cleared by Essien and the rebounding ball gathered safely by the keeper.

In the 12th minute, a Chelsea corner saw John Terry climbing highest in the Villa penalty area but his effort just tipped over the roof of the net and then Scott Carson had to dive at full strength to deny an effort from Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Two minutes later and some neat trickery from Ashley Young — no doubt eager to show just why England manager Steve McClaren is putting his faith in him — forced Claude Makelele to clear his lines.

Mr Clattenburg was soon on the receiving end of some jibes from the Holte End when Carew appeared to have been pulled back by John Terry as he made a run for goal.

The official misread the situation and instead rewarded the free-kick Chelsea's way, much to the derision of the Villa faithful.

In the 25th minute, great work by Young again opened up an opportunity but the #9.5 million man's shot ended up over the crossbar. Carew then forced Cech into making another save after good work from Mellberg, before Ashley Cole headed away a Young effort but only as far as the edge of the penalty area.

As the second half got under way, it was Villa who came out all guns blazing, with Young having a fine floated effort just tipped over the bar and then, as Villa won a corner, up stepped Knight to ensure his dream debut.

The #3.5 million signing rose majestically above the visiting defence to beat Cech. Ashley Cole, minding the far post, was powerless to prevent the ball entering the net.

Just seven days after his own goal had helped Villa snatch three points from his former club Fulham, so he made his giant presence felt again as his goal sent the Villa Park stands into raptures.

By now, frustration was beginnign to show amongst Jose Mourinho's men and Drogba earned little respect from the home fans when he feigned a facial injury in a tussle with Moore to earn a free-kick.

Now it was Chelsea applying the heat as, time and again, they peppered the Villa goal; time and again, though, the home defence was equal to the task.

Mourinho then resorted to a double-substitution in a bid to try to win the game, replacing Wright-Phillips with Joe Cole and Makele with Solomon Kalou.

Cole immediately added to the mix, allowing Terry through for a header which just dipped over Carson's bar and then forcing Knight to make a couple of telling challenges.

O'Neill himself decided to try to close down Chelsea in midfield, bringing on Petrov for Carew, but this was not a question of Villa shutting up shop as they continued to seek the second goal which would put the game out of Chelsea's reach.

With just three minutes left, Villa's bravery was rewarded when Ashley Young got the better of Juliano Belletti, cut into the penalty area and drove the ball across the goalmouth.

Agbonlahor's predatory connection speared the ball past Cech.

Scorers: Knight (47), Agbonlahor (87).
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma; Young, Barry, Reo-Coker, Agbonlahor; Carew (Petrov, 80), Moore. Subs: Taylor, Harewood, Gardner, Maloney.
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; A Cole, Terry, Alex, Makelele (Kalou, 70); Essien, Malouda, Obi (Pizarro, 48) Belletti, Drogba, Wright-Phillips (J Cole, 70). Subs: Cudicini, Ben-Haim.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
Bookings: Villa — Reo-Coker (foul), Agbonlahor (dissent), Barry (foul), Carew (foul); Chelsea — Drogba.
Attendance: 37,714.
Villa man of the match: Martin Laursen — timely interventions as Chelsea looked for a way through.