Defending champions Chelsea welcome Watford to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as they look for their first victory in all competitions since September.
The Blues will be desperate to get their first set of three points in across all competitions since their victory against Stoke City back in September. Since then, they have lost to Manchester City and Crystal Palace and only just managed a 3-3 draw against AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
Watford, on the other hand, have been in superb form and are just coming off a huge victory against Arsenal last week. They are currently placed fourth on the league table, having lost only once this entire season, which was a humiliating 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City.
The Hornets are two points ahead of Chelsea and only 7 points behind Manchester City. It may still be early days in the league, but they look to be in good form and the fact that all the pressure in this tie lies on Chelsea, will only come as an advantage to Marco Silva’s men.
Team News & Tactics
Antonio Conte will have a difficult time trying to figure out his fittest team for this clash. N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Danny Drinkwater (calf) and Victor Moses (hamstring) are expected to continue their recovery, while Tiemoue Bakayoko is also likely to miss out after seemingly picking up a sprain against AS Roma.
With three senior midfielders out, the Italian may be forced to play David Luiz in the middle of the park yet again, alongside Cesc Fabregas. As a result, Andreas Christensen will likely retain his place in the back-three alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta are the options for wing-back at the moment, and Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata and Pedro are expected to make up the front three. Chelsea are likely to lineup in the 3-4-3 formation, due to the sheer lack of midfielders available.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Fabregas, Luiz, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard
Marco Silva will be without Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Isaac Success, Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prödl for this tie. While he did start with three at the back against Arsenal with much success, we expect that the Portuguese will revert to his usual 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday.
The change in system will likely result in Miguel Britos making way for Etienne Capoue to come back into midfield alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure. Richarlison should retain his place on the left, while Silva has the option to choose between Andre Carrillo and Roberto Pereyra on the right.
Tom Cleverley, who scored the winner last week against the Gunners should start in a central role in behind the striker, while captain Troy Deeney is expected to come into this starting XI in place of Andre Gray.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Femenia, Mariappa, Kabasele, Holebas; Capoue, Doucoure; Carrillo, Cleverley, Richarlison; Deeney
- Watford have failed to beat Chelsea in their previous 12 meetings across all competitions.
- Having failed to win their last three matches, Chelsea are in middle of their biggest winless streak under Antonio Conte’s management.
- Chelsea have scored a minimum of 2 goals against Watford in their last seven matches at Stamford Bridge.
- Watford’s last victory at Stamford Bridge came 31 years ago, a 1-5 thrashing in 1986.
- Chelsea have won only 1 of their 4 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge so far this season.
1. Watford Asian Handicap +1.5 @1.750
2. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @1.66
1. Watford Draw No Bet @6.00
Chelsea 2-2 Watford
Marco Silva’s men have been in superb form this season and will be desperate to stay ahead of the reigning champions for another week in the top four. Apart from being in superb form, the Hornets have had a week’s rest to prepare for this tie. Chelsea on the other hand, have had just 2 days.
The Blues’ fatigue, combined with their injury crisis will undoubtedly have an effect on their performance. While Chelsea do have better players in their squad, games aren’t won on paper and we predict a hard fought draw at Stamford Bridge, with a fair amount of goals.