The first midweek round of Premier League fixtures means that the festive period is now beginning. It is the time of year that can make or break a team’s end of season ambitions. For Chelsea, they will be looking to remain at the top of the division heading in to 2022. Meanwhile, their opponents on Wednesday, Watford, will be hoping to steer clear of the bottom three. This is a much bigger game for the visitors after they dropped points at the weekend. They need to win to ensure they remain at the top of the table.
Watford have had a strange start to the season. They have already made a managerial change and Claudio Ranieri has already recorded a couple of noteworthy wins. However, they are a side that many believe will be in the relegation picture until May. The advantage they have over their rivals is their front line, as they have goals in the team. They have the third joint-second best attacking record in the bottom half, with 18 goals. The Hornets will believe that their attack will be enough to get them to safety this season.
Thomas Tuchel will be disappointed that his team failed to win at the weekend. They were the dominant team against Manchester United on Sunday, but they failed to make their territorial dominance count. A mistake from Jorginho allowed United to take the lead and it cost his team two points. The issue for Chelsea was an inability to create clear cut chances from open play. It is likely there will be some changes in attack for the week’s trip to Vicarage Road, with Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku set to be recalled to the starting eleven.
Watford have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 23 matches in the Premier League. This is the longest run without one by a current Premier League side.
On the other hand, Chelsea have the best defensive record in the league this season, conceding only five goals from 13 matches.
There is a lot of good attacking talent in the Watford team. Josh King has repaired his reputation after a disappointing spell at Everton. He is proving that he is a consistent goal threat at this level. The 29-year-old has five goals and two assists this season, with a goal involvement every 117 minutes. This is very impressive for a promoted team and shows what a good piece of business it was by Watford to sign him on a free. He is powerful and capable of winning physical battles against opposition defenders, as shown by his average of 3.3 successful aerial duels per game. Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis are both doubts for the midweek match against Chelsea. Without both in the team, Ranieri’s side will be reliant on King to offer the attacking threat.
Chelsea have managed to continue winning matches without Romelu Lukaku in the team, but Tuchel will be delighted to have the striker back from injury. The last two home matches against Burnley and Manchester United underlined the importance of Lukaku. Chelsea dominated both matches, but they failed to create clear cut opportunities. They missed having a world class striker leading the line. The movement and presence of the Belgian international causes a lot of problems for opposition defences, as the focus is on stopping him. This creates space and opportunity for the rest of the attack to cause damage. This season, he has scored three goals in the Premier League. There is much more to come from him and he could come to the party over the Christmas period. Taking Watford’s defensive issues into account, he could have a really good evening on Wednesday.
Ben Foster will be missing with a groin strain. Ismaila Sarr, Ken Sema and Francisco Sierralta are all unlikely to be passed fit to play. Emmanuel Dennis is a doubt after picking up a knock against Leicester City.
N’Golo Kante is a doubt for the trip to Watford. Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell and Mateo Kovacic remain on the sidelines. Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku could be recalled to the starting eleven after appearances from the bench on Sunday.
Watford have goals in their team and they showed against Manchester United that they can cause problems for any team. However, their injuries mean they won’t be as threatening on Wednesday night. Chelsea have been excellent this season and it is difficult to see any other result than an away win. The return of Lukaku to the starting eleven will make them a much better attacking force.
Watford 0-2 Chelsea