Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Leicester City when they visit Vicarage Road to face Watford on Boxing Day.
Watford are aiming to return to their early season form and seem to be on the right path, with consecutive victories in the Premier League. While Cardiff City and West Ham United were relatively easier opponents compared to the task they are likely to have at their hand when Chelsea pay a visit, it is momentum that counts going into a congested schedule.
For Chelsea, the momentum gained from their win over Manchester City has vanished, thanks to a 1-0 loss to Leicester City. The Blues look toothless in attack at times, something which needs to be rectified and will likely be addressed in the transfer window(s) ahead.
Chelsea’s last visit to Vicarage Road will be fresh in the minds of the Watford fans, with the home side recording a thumping 4-1 win over the Blues. As Maurizio Sarri and Javi Gracia prepare their sides for the Boxing Day encounter, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Adalberto Penaranda and Andre Gray are destined to miss the tie against Chelsea. Will Hughes and Sebastian Prodl were not risked against West Ham but are likely to come into the fray on Boxing Day. Daryl Janmaat is also nearing his return, but is unlikely to start against Chelsea.
Etienne Capoue put in a Man of the Match performance against West Ham. But, Javi Gracia is likely to rotate his squad to keep the players fresh and fit, which means Domingos Quina will come into the starting lineup. Abdoulaye Doucoure will retain his place in midfield.
The back four of Kiko Femenia, Craig Cathcart, Christian Kabasele and Jose Holebas will keep their places, with Ben Foster in goal. Roberto Pereyra is key to the attacking impetus that Watford possess and he will keep his place as part of a narrow attacking midfield duo.
Tom Cleverley could come in for Ken Sema. In attack, Troy Deeney is certain to start and should be accompanied by Gerard Deulofeu, who has managed to impress in a rather unnatural position upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Doucoure, Quina; Cleverley, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu
Andreas Christensen is injured. But, the trio of Alvaro Morata, Victor Moses and Gary Cahill are also unlikely to take any part on Boxing Day. The back four of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso should remain the same against Watford.
There isn’t much to choose from for Sarri as far as central defence is concerned, with Cahill and Christensen unavailable. But, the Leicester City defeat will see Sarri ring in some changes to the midfield and attack.
Mateo Kovacic will lose his spot in midfield, with Ross Barkley likely to get the nod ahead of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. In attack, Sarri should revert to a more natural frontman, with Olivier Giroud upfront. Eden Hazard should move to the left, with Pedro completing the three-man attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.70
2. Over 9.5 Corners @ 1.80
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.80
1. In the last three encounters between Watford and Chelsea, the home side in the respective matches have scored 4 goals.
2. There have been red cards in two of the last three meetings between Watford and Chelsea.
3. Watford have amassed just one win out of their five league games against the ‘Big Six’ sides so far this season. Chelsea, on the other hand, have lost just one.
4. The last five games between Watford and Chelsea have seen a combined 21 goals, despite one of the fixtures ending in a 0-0 draw.
5. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League games played on Boxing Day (W8 D5) since a 4-2 loss to Charlton in 2003-04.
Player to Watch
Chelsea are struggling in front of goal and Maurizio Sarri is looking to delve into the market in January for a new striker. But, Olivier Giroud could show the manager that he can still be an option even if the manager does bring in another striker.
Eden Hazard as a False Nine seemed to be working for a couple of games. But, the plan came undone against Leicester City. Watford though, could be susceptible to Target Men like Giroud. The Frenchman could be the difference on Boxing Day.
Watford 2-2 Chelsea
Honestly, Watford go into the game, surprisingly, as favourites for their encounter against Chelsea. It is on their home turf and form backs them right now. To add to it, the last result at Vicarage between the two teams would encourage Javi Gracia and his men.
Watford will be a handful for the Chelsea defence, with the home side possessing the pace of Gerard Deulofeu and the strength of Troy Deeney upfront. Chelsea though, should provide a reaction to their 1-0 loss to Leicester and we can see the two teams play out a draw.