Chelsea will be hoping to continue their fine run in the Premier League when they travel across the capital to take on Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
A jam-packed Saturday will come to an end with a London derby when rock-bottom Watford play hosts to fourth-placed Chelsea at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening, hoping to finally record their first Premier League win of the season.
The 2019-20 season has been a tale of struggle so far for Watford. Winless after the first 10 Premier League games, the Hornets have already changed managers this term. The performances and results have improved, if only marginally so, under Quique Sanchez Flores, but they will be eager to get the monkey off their back sooner rather than later.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have been constantly improving under the tutelage of Frank Lampard. After a slow start to life under the tutelage club legend, the Blues went unbeaten in the Premier League and Europe last month. The only setback came in the form of their 2-1 defeat in the Carabao Cup fourth round against Manchester United.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-1 win for Chelsea, with Eden Hazard scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Quique Sanchez Flores has a number of pressing injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Saturday, the Watford boss will be without as many as six first-team players, with Isaac Success easing some of the Hornets’ woes.
Chief among Watford’s absentees are captain Troy Deeney (knee) and Etienne Capoue (back), while the likes of Domingos Quina (groin), Tom Cleverley (heel), Ismaila Sarr (leg) and Danny Welbeck (hamstring) are unavailable as well. The good news, though, is that Capoue and Cleverley are likely to be fit to return next weekend.
Sanchez Flores is expected to line his side up in a 3-5-2 formation once again, with the focus being on sitting deep to absorb the pressure that Chelsea will look to put on the hosts before unleashing swift counter-attacks by exploiting the pace of Daryl Janmaat and Gerard Deulofeu.
Ben Foster will line up between the sticks for the hosts, with Christian Kabasele, Craig Dawson and Craig Cathcart forming the three-man central defensive partnership. Janmaat is a certain starter as the right wing-back, but the position on the opposite flank will be contested between Adam Masina and Jose Holebas, with the former likely to get the nod.
The spate of injuries in midfield means that the trio of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Will Hughes and former Chelsea man Nathaniel Chalobah pick themselves. Deulofeu ought to have Roberto Pereyra as his strike partner, with the Argentine in serious need of rediscovering his form after a slow start to the season.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Foster; Kabasele, Dawson, Cathcart; Janmaat, Hughes, Chalobah, Doucoure, Masina; Deulofeu, Pereyra
Frank Lampard does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with before he takes his side on the short cross-London trip to take on Watford. On Saturday, the Chelsea manager will continue to be without five first-team players.
Andreas Christensen (hamstring), N’Golo Kante (groin) and Ross Barkley (ankle) are all back in training, but the game against Watford has come too soon for the trio. Antonio Rudiger is training again as well, but is unlikely to feature for Chelsea this month. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a long-term absentee.
The continued absence of Christensen and Rudiger means the budding partnership of Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori will resume at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Cesar Azpilicueta is set to replace Reece James in the right-back slot, with Marcos Alonso starting on the left flank. Kepa Arrizabalaga a certain starter in goal for Chelsea.
The two players midfield double pivot pick themselves as well, owing to the unavailability of Kante and Barkley, with Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho set to start again. Up ahead, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham are automatic picks in the spine, with Abraham set to pip Michy Batshuayi despite the latter’s goalscoring form.
The competition for the two wide slots is intense, especially after Christian Pulisic’s match-winning hat-trick against Burnley last week. Pulisic is likely to get the nod ahead of Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Willian expected to start after being rested against Manchester United.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Pulisic; Abraham
1. Chelsea to win @ 1.61
1. Chelsea – Win and Both Teams to Score – YES @ 3.25
- Watford have only been victorious in two of their 12 Premier League meetings with Chelsea, and two of the last 21 encounters in all competitions (D5 L14).
- Watford are winless in their 10 Premier League games this season (D5 L5), scoring fewer goals than any other side (5). They have never failed to win any of their opening 11 games to any league campaign before, while the last side to do so in the Premier League were QPR in 2012-13.
- Chelsea have won their last four away Premier League games, netting at least three goals each time. In top-flight history, only Everton have won five consecutive away games while scoring three or more goals each time, doing so back in December 1927 en route to winning the league title.
- Watford are winless in their last nine Premier League home games (D4 L5). If the Hornets fail to beat Chelsea, it will equal their longest winless home run in their league history (10 between September-December 2004).
- Tammy Abraham has scored a Premier League-high six away goals this season, already more than what any Chelsea player managed last season.
Player to Watch
If there is one player who exemplifies Watford’s struggles this season better than anyone, it is Roberto Pereyra. Often the talisman for the Hornets, the Argentine has been off the boil for quite some time now, with his record this season a paltry 1 goal in 9 Premier League games.
But, a Chelsea defence that has always shown signs of vulnerabilities this season offer Pereyra a chance to hit top form once again. With Gerard Deulofeu the only player managing to pose any sort of threat this term, a swift return to form is advisable for Pereyra. A shock win might just be on the cards if the 28-year-old can get back to his best.
Watford 0-2 Chelsea
Watford are slowly getting there, having ground out three successive draws in the Premier League. But, goals have come at a premium for the Hornets this season, a problem that has not been fixed under the watchful eyes of Quique Sanchez Flores either.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have looked better on the road this season and with Christian Pulisic announcing his arrival in England in style last week, another comfortable win is in the offing. Not to forget the impact that Callum Hudson-Odoi can create off the bench, and all signs point towards a Chelsea win.
This time around, however, their run of scoring three or more goals in an away Premier League win could end, with Watford tightening things up. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Frank Lampard & co. in a result that will send the Blues up to third at the very least ahead of Leicester City’s fixture on Sunday.