Watford vs Chelsea
Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Winless so far in the current campaign, Watford host Frank Lampard’s Chelsea who travel north to Vicarage Road, off the back of a four-game winning streak in the league that has seen the Blues rise to fourth in the table.
This fixture has been dominated by Chelsea over the last 20 battles between these teams, with the west London side having won 13 games whilst losing just two.
The last defeat for the Blues came in 2018, as Watford put forth a worthy effort to defeat Chelsea 4-1. A win this week could see the Blues move into second place in the league table pending the outcomes of Manchester City and Leicester City’s games against Southampton and Crystal Palace respectively.
The Hornets are still searching for their first win on the season, as they have not won a game in the last 14 fixtures dating back to April 2019.
Since the return of Quique Sanchez Flores, Watford have improved defensively, shifting in formation to a 5-3-2, picking up three points and two clean sheets in October, but giving up possession (36.7%) with a league-worst 22 total attempts over that period.
The Blues have played spectacular football recently scoring and come off a 4-2 win at Turf Moor last weekend.
The Hornets have secured just five points from a possible 30 from the season, mired at the bottom of the table. It could be a tricky fixture for Chelsea, even though the Blues have scored 11 goals in their last four games, thanks in part to Christian Pulisic’s hat trick last weekend. Lampard will look at using his youth to run and attacking the Hornets, who are winless at Vicarage Road so far in 2019/20.
Flores’ side continue to find goals elusive, with the club currently having seven midfielders and forwards out injured. Captain Troy Deeney continues his rehabilitation and is still 4-5 weeks away from returning to first-team action, while Danny Welbeck’s news could be “two month, three months – maybe more.”
Issac Success has been training for a week and could face a late fitness test – not good news for the forwards as they continue to struggle up top. League Cup action saw Domingos Quina added to the physio list, as he continues to undergo evaluation, as he joins Etienne Capoue (back), Ismaila Sarr (leg) and Tom Cleverley (heel) on the treatment table.
This extensive list should see Nathaniel Chalobah pick up his third consecutive start, partnered with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Will Hughes. Sanchez Flores doesn’t have many options available, as Dimitri Foulquier picked up minutes in the last few games. Andre Gray continues to show a lack of confidence when on the pitch, best epitomised against Everton in midweek action.
QSF said it was important for players to get time after the loss at Goodison Park, as some of these part-time players may be called on to make a contribution. “For me today it was important to see Quina, to see Prodl, to see Foulquier, to see many players who are part of the squad but not playing too many minutes, for me it was the idea.” It’s another vital game, now that the defence is sorted and improving, but you won’t win games without goals.
The biggest concern ahead of the Chelsea clash is that Watford had one shot on target in their League Cup loss to Everton, while giving up 61% of possession. After the loss, Sanchez Flores said, “We had many many counter-attacks or quick attacks, they don’t finalise nothing. In passing, in shooting, nothing, even from inside the box, so I don’t know. I know we have quality to improve these kinds of decisions.”
Chelsea have been struggling with injuries in some areas so far this season, but have seen some of the younger players step up to make a positive contribution to start this season. Lampard has confirmed midfielder, N’Golo Kante (groin) and defender Antonio Rudiger (groin) will miss the clash with Watford. Andreas Christensen is still struggling with a thigh injury, while Ross Barkley could face a late fitness test after turning an ankle.
Chelsea are the top-scoring team (16) away from home in the Premier League. These teams have combined for 25 goals over the last five meetings, with Chelsea prevailing in four of those games.
Tammy Abraham has scored six goals and an assist away from Stamford Bridge, while Mason Mount has provided three goals and an assist.
Lampard continues to keep the faith in his youngsters, that have seen Chelsea amass 20 points so far this season, holding a Champions League position in the league table.
The Blues were banned from signing players over the summer transfer period, found guilty of rules violations in recruiting young players. “I set out this season to see what these young boys could do. If I didn’t have a transfer ban and came to this club and had opportunities to bring players in during the summer, I still would have trusted the young boys,” said Lampard. The team has been stable as they are playing with confidence of more experienced players and they look to keep the ball rolling this weekend.
Predicted Starting XIs
Watford (5-3-2): Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Dawson, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes, Chalobah, Doucoure; Deulofeu, Pereyra
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Pulisic; Abraham
Prediction: Watford 0 – 2 Chelsea
Chelsea are a team in form arriving at Vicarage Road, against a Hornets team that has no answers at the attacking end of the pitch, one-way traffic in this fixture favouring the Blues.