Watford enter November without a victory and a relegation battle looms on the horizon. On Saturday, they welcome Chelsea to Vicarage Road, suggesting that it may get worse before it gets better. The Blues have been rampant away from home this season with 16 goals in their last four Premier League fixtures on the road. It seems that the players are more confident away from Stamford Bridge and benefit from the extra space afforded to them. That said, their defensive vulnerabilities will give confidence to the home side, as they can be got at.
Quique Sanchez Flores has yet to earn his first victory back at the club, following his surprise appointment. However, there has been a marked improvement in performances, especially in defence. Watford have only conceded one goal in their last three matches, which will give them confidence that they can frustrate Chelsea on Saturday. If they manage to do that, they will have a great chance to pick up a victory, as the visitors struggle to keep clean sheets.
Chelsea are emerging as the third best team in the Premier League based on their underlying numbers. Frank Lampard deserves a lot of credit for integrating the young players and providing an established route to the first team. This will only prove to be beneficial in the long term. In previous years, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi may have been sold and that was certainly a fear of many supporters last season. There will be downs, such as the Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester United, but there is renewed optimism around the club and there is good reason for that.
Watford have failed to win in any of their last nine league games at Vicarage Road. The last time they went ten without a win was in 2004.
Chelsea have won their last four away league matches, while scoring at least three goals in each game. This is the first time they have managed to do this in their history.
The Frenchman is one of the most talented players in the Watford team and he is one that could move on to a bigger club in the next 12 months. He has shown his worth in the last couple of weeks and will be a key figure if the club are to secure survival. Doucoure is powerful and capable in both halves, which makes him the perfect central midfielder in the Premier League. During the recent match against Tottenham, he scored the goal, showing his attacking threat. Meanwhile, he completed four dribbles and made five ball recoveries. His quality in attack and defence means that he is the player that Sanchez Flores should build around. Chelsea have proven to be dominant in central areas, but they may struggle to deal with the physicality of Doucoure.
The focus has been on the breakout young stars at Chelsea this season, but a few of the older guard have stepped up under Frank Lampard. Willian has long been considered one of the most talented players at Stamford Bridge, with Manchester United and Barcelona attempting to sign him during his time in West London. At times, he has been frustrating for supporters to watch, but he has a new lease of life under the new coaching staff. It would have been expected that the Brazilian would be phased out with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic securing the starting positions. However, the 31-year-old has been key to the Blues’ attack, as shown by his goal and assist against Burnley last weekend. It could be a similar game on Saturday and the attacker could play a similarly key role for the away team.
Watford made several changes in the week, but they are expected to return to a similar team to their last league game. Troy Deeney and Ismaila Sarr remain a few weeks away from a return to action. Etienne Capoue and Isaac Success are facing late fitness tests ahead of the weekend.
N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger are both doubts for this weekend, as Chelsea carefully manage both players back to full fitness. Andreas Christensen and Emerson Palmieri are both expected to be closing in on returns.
Chelsea will rightly be considered favourites for the victory, despite their disappointing defeat to Manchester United. Frank Lampard will bring the more established players into the first-team and it could provide a chance for Tammy Abraham to return to scoring ways. Watford will be resolute at the back, but the visitors are on fire away from home. They scored four past a well organised Burnley team and another victory will be expected on Saturday.
Watford 1-3 Chelsea