Chelsea are not in great form and it is imperative that the current champions find their stride again if they are to consolidate their position in the top four, starting with Monday’s fixture against Watford. Neither side has been playing well recently and it could be a nervy affair as a result of the lack of confidence. In the previous meeting this season, the Blues had to fight back from behind and it was considered as a turning point of their season. However, they didn’t push on as expected and they go into the return fixture needing a similar result to put an end to their recent bad run.
Watford have won only one of their last 12 Premier League matches, but they remain in 11th position and should steer clear of relegation regardless of their drop-off in form. That said, it is a worrying trend that the Hornets never kick on after a good start. It seems there is a mental issue within the squad that prevents them from delivering consistency over 38 matches. The board continue to change managers frequently to fix the problem, but even that is struggling this time. Javi Gracia has come in to replace Marco Silva and the team have failed to score in his first two matches in charge.
Antonio Conte is considered to be unhappy at Stamford Bridge and the tensions behind the scenes have affected the performances on the pitch. They were embarrassed at home by Bournemouth during the week as they fell to a 3-0 defeat. It looked like the players were going through the motions and were not delivering the same level of intensity as they showed last season. Although they remain in the top four, Tottenham look to be stepping up their game after closing the gap to only two points on Wednesday. Chelsea need a reaction on Monday.
- Watford have failed to score in their last three fixtures across all competitions. They will want to put an end to that run this weekend against a Chelsea side short on confidence.
- Chelsea have scored the fewest goals (45) of all the top-six sides during this Premier League season.
The big name signing made by Watford during the recent transfer window was Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu who joins on loan until the end of the season. Richarlison has been the star of their attack since the beginning of the season and they will be hoping that the addition of another forward player will provide fresh impetus to the side. Furthermore, it might free up space for the Brazilian as the opposition defenders have another quality player to be wary of. During his debut, he impressed with some encouraging touches in the final third. He completed four dribble, which was more than any other player managed for the Hornets. His creativity was evident as he made three key passes, but his pass success rate of 56% was on the low side. The 23-year-old’s decision making in the final third was poor at times, but that should improve as he gets used to his new surroundings. Chelsea are a team that don’t look comfortable at the back and Gracia will be hoping that Deulofeu can be the player to break them down on Monday night.
The Blues need other players to contribute and they will be hoping that the additions of Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud provide something new to their attack. However, Eden Hazard remains their key player and it will be interesting to see how he views his long-term future as he hasn’t kicked on as he would have imagined. It could be that a fresh start is needed to see the Belgian finally reach the world-class level. Regardless of his future, the attacker needs to finish the season strongly and go to the World Cup in good form. If he could reignite Chelsea’s season and help them get back to winning ways, that will put him in a strong position ahead of the summer. He has eight goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, which is a record he will want to improve over the coming weeks. Watford are short on confidence and Hazard has the quality to put them to the sword on Monday. It is imperative that he does as his team can’t afford another loss.
Watford could see the return of Younes Kaboul this weekend. However, they will have a long injury list to contend with as they welcome Chelsea to Vicarage Road. Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Kiko Femenia and Will Hughes will all be missing for the hosts.
Andreas Christensen won’t be able to feature as he has suffered a hamstring injury. Olivier Giroud could make his Chelsea debut, but Antonio Conte may be reluctant to play him from the start. Willian is closing in on a return to action, while David Luiz could play a part. Alvaro Morata remains on the sidelines with a back injury.
Chelsea are impossible to predict at the moment, as they are in poor form and not showing the commitment that they did last season. Watford are in a similar poor run of form and that most likely means that Monday’s contest will be a nervy one short on quality. It is important that the Blues show a reaction from their loss against Bournemouth as they have two matches upcoming against Barcelona. If they play those matches in a similar manner to the Bournemouth loss, they could get humiliated. They should have enough to go to Watford and take three points, but it is unlikely to be a vintage performance.
Watford 0-1 Chelsea