Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were the standout performers as Chelsea eked out a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.
Watford were the stronger of the two sides in the first quarter of an hour, with a vital block from Trevoh Chalobah and a mighty save by Edouard Mendy keeping the score at 0-0 in the early exchanges. The game was then halted temporarily around the 10th minute, as a fan was taken ill in the stands before being escorted to a medical facility.
Once the game resumed, Chelsea stepped up, and it was around the half-hour mark that they went ahead through Mason Mount following some superb work from Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Kai Havertz in the buildup. However, Watford continued to take the game to their visitors, and in the 42nd minute, they were back on level terms as Emmanuel Dennis scored from close range after being set up by Moussa Sissoko.
The two sides traded blows after the interval, but Watford did not threaten as much as the opening period. At the opposite end, the chances started flowing gradually for Chelsea, who broke the deadlock a second time in the game through Hakim Ziyech, who scored from close range after some brilliant exchanges involving Alonso and Mount.
Shortly after, the Blues could have been 3-1 up, only for Ziyech to head a cross by Havertz straight towards Daniel Bachmann. Nonetheless, Chelsea did enough to grab all three points against a spirited Watford side, maintaining their place atop the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Edouard Mendy: 7/10
Mendy was a major reason why Chelsea went home with all three points. His early save after Cesar Azpilicueta had inadvertently directed a cross towards him was exquisite. And the Chelsea no. 1 kept on making key stops to ensure Watford did not score more than once. He could not have done anything to deny Emmanuel Dennis for his goal, though, after his shot took a deflection off Antonio Rudiger.
Trevoh Chalobah: 6/10
Chalobah started the game strongly, spotting the danger smartly before producing a crucial block and clearance. However, as the match progressed, there was some sloppiness, but he was solid in the midfield role in the second half before being taken off with a hamstring injury.
Andreas Christensen: 6/10
With Thiago Silva given a breather, Christensen had the task of keeping the backline organised and disciplined. While the Dane managed to do so for the most part, Watford still found a few holes to exploit in the Chelsea defence. On an individual level, he was superb, completing six clearances and three interceptions. He needs to do better as a leader, though.
Antonio Rudiger: 6/10
It was a game of hits and misses for Rudiger. The German international set off the move leading up to Mason Mount’s goal, as he opened up play nicely before Marcos Alonso and Kai Havertz linked up. However, Rudiger afforded too much space for Dennis to pull the trigger and net the equaliser. Otherwise, he was largely solid and hardly put a foot wrong.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Reece James was not fit enough to even be on the bench, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta returned to the starting lineup as the right wing-back. The Spaniard was pinned back in his own half for large parts of the proceedings, and his output on the ball was sub-par. However, Tuchel would hardly have any complaints from his captain on the defensive front, where he was largely solid.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 6/10
With Jorginho rested, Loftus-Cheek had the onus on him to keep Chelsea in control of the proceedings. However, the Englishman struggled in the face of the Watford press, most notably giving the ball away to Moussa Sissoko in the buildup to Dennis’s goal. A rare blip going by his recent form.
Saul Niguez: 5/10
Afforded only his second Premier League start, this was Saul’s chance to show that he should be given more opportunities to impress. The Spaniard could not get used to the pace of the game and failed to provide ample cover for the centre-backs, which enabled Watford to pounce. He was rightly taken off at the break, with Thiago Silva replacing him.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
The game had the two extremes of Marcos Alonso’s game on full display. The Spaniard was horrible defensively, with Dennis giving him a lot to worry about in the game. However, Alonso was typically creative when foraying into the final third, and he was heavily involved in both the goals that Chelsea scored on Wednesday. But, his game was also riddled with wastefulness as he lost the ball a staggering 28 times.
Mason Mount: 8/10
10 – Mason Mount is Chelsea's top goalscorer under Thomas Tuchel, becoming the first player to reach double figures under the German in all competitions. Blue. pic.twitter.com/r4LK1PLZgA
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Back in the starting lineup, Mount appeared determined to nail down his spot by making a meaningful impact. That is exactly what he did, as he opened the scoring for Chelsea before helping round off the win by setting up Hakim Ziyech for the match-winner. However, his passing was not as efficient as it can be because of Watford’s relentless pressing. Job well done, nonetheless.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
Given a chance to impress by Tuchel, Pulisic endured a difficult game against Watford as he struggled to get into the game. When he did see the ball, the USMNT international was sloppy, losing possession cheaply while failing to influence the proceedings. He has not done himself any favours with this performance.
Kai Havertz: 8/10
Havertz did not as much of the ball as he would have liked despite playing the entire 90 minutes. However, his typical work rate was on full display, helping Chelsea win possession in dangerous areas. In addition, he also showed good awareness to square the ball to Mount for the opener. He should have had another assist in the second half, but Ziyech could not convert his cross.
Thiago Silva: 7/10
After Chelsea were troubled greatly in the first half, Tuchel decided to bring Thiago Silva on at the break to calm things down at the back. The Brazilian did just that, making several clearances to alleviate the pressure off his teammates while keeping the backline organised.
Hakim Ziyech: 7/10
Hakim Ziyech has a knack of scoring some very important goals for Chelsea:
• Winner vs Watford
• Winner vs Man City [FA Cup]
• Winner vs Malmö
• Super Cup goal
• Opener vs Atletico Madrid pic.twitter.com/3N48dWwgJf
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On for the injured Chalobah, Ziyech was sloppy on the ball and lost possession cheaply early on. However, the Moroccan playmaker was in the right place at the right time to bury the winner after being set up by Mount. He should have scored another shortly after his maiden goal but could only direct his header straight to Daniel Bachmann.
Romelu Lukaku: 6/10
There is evident rust in his game, and on Wednesday, Lukaku could not get into the game or hold the ball up well. Tuchel will need to be patient with him in the coming weeks.