Chelsea will aim to end their 2021/22 Premier League campaign on a high when they welcome Watford to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Just one more week remains for the 2021/22 season to officially end. The curtains will fall on the Premier League campaign on Sunday, with all ten games scheduled to be played simultaneously on Sunday. And Chelsea will look to end the term on a positive note when they play hosts to Watford at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea will end a second successive Premier League campaign in the third spot on the table unless they lose heavily and Tottenham Hotspur can score goals in double figures against Norwich City. But 2021/22 will go down in Chelsea history as the season where the Roman Abramovich era ended in the wake of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Chelsea’s new owners will hope to continue Chelsea’s legacy of being a successful club, provided the takeover goes through without any hiccups. Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel will remember 2021/22 as the season that got destabilised by off-field issues, ultimately ending with only the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup to show for their efforts.

On the other hand, Watford’s return to the Premier League has ended quickly, with the Hornets going down after just one season in the top flight. The Pozo family has continued the bizarre tradition of being trigger friendly with their managers, with Xisco Munoz and Claudio Ranieri failing to steer Watford to safety. Roy Hodgson did not succeed in his endeavour either and will retire after guiding the Hornets to a 19th-placed finish.

The reverse fixture ended in a 2-1 win for Chelsea, with Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech on target, while Emmanuel Dennis scored for Watford. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel is sweating over the fitness of a few first-team players ahead of the visit of Watford. On Saturday, the Chelsea manager could be bereft of the services of up to five squad members due to injury concerns and other issues.

Ben Chilwell (knee) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) remain long-term absentees, with the duo expected to return in time for the start of Chelsea’s pre-season campaign. Meanwhile, Tuchel will be concerned about the availability of Mateo Kovacic (ankle), Timo Werner (hamstring) and Andreas Christensen.

Christensen should miss out again for Chelsea, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, and Antonio Rudiger will form the central defensive unit against Watford. Edouard Mendy picks himself between the sticks, with Kepa Arrizabalaga being his deputy.

Up ahead in midfield, Kovacic’s doubtful status will enable Tuchel to pair Jorginho with N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park. Reece James and Marcos Alonso should flank the central midfield duo, with the two wing-backs carrying much of Chelsea’s creative threat.

Mason Mount got some much-needed rest on Thursday against Leicester City but should return to the starting eleven against Watford. Kai Havertz will likely be the other attacking midfielder, with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic options on the bench. Finally, Romelu Lukaku will spearhead the Chelsea attack on Sunday.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku

Watford

Unlike his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Roy Hodgson has a gamut of roster issues to deal with ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. The Watford manager could be without as many as eleven first-team players.

Kiko Femenia (illness), Nicolas Nkoulou (groin), Tom Cleverley (rib) and Joshua King (illness) are battling to regain enough fitness to feature against Chelsea. But Samir (groin), Juraj Kucka (knee), Imran Louza (knee), Peter Etebo (knock), Emmanuel Dennis (knee), Ismaila Sarr (knee) and Cucho Hernandez (hamstring) remain on the sidelines and will not take the field for Watford on Sunday.

With so many players on the sidelines, Hodgson’s team selection decision will be forced on him, as there is little room for rotation. Ben Foster will take his place between the sticks for Watford, who will line up in a 4-3-3 formation against Chelsea on Sunday.

Christian Kabasele and Craig Cathcart should pair up at the heart of the Watford defence, with Hassane Kamara and Jeremy Ngakia being the two full-backs. While Kamara and Ngakia can carry a threat on the respective flank, they will mostly remain pinned back to curb Chelsea’s output.

Moussa Sissoko will look to marshall the troops in the middle of the park, with Edo Kayembe and Dan Gosling likely to start alongside him in the central midfield trifecta. Sissoko will primarily look to negate Mason Mount’s influence, while Gosling will look to initiate swift transitions.

The Watford attack will bear a brand-new look, with Kwadwo Baah and Samuel Kalu taking their places out wide. Joao Pedro will spearhead the Watford attack against Chelsea, with King likely a backup option if he is fit enough to be involved.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Foster; Ngakia, Kabasele, Cathcart, Kamara; Sissoko, Kayembe, Gosling; Kalu, Pedro, Baah

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have never lost in seven Premier League home games against Watford (W6 D1), scoring at least twice in all seven meetings. The Hornets have lost eight of their last nine Premier League games against Chelsea, including each of the last five in a row since a 4-1 home win in February 2018.
  • Chelsea lost 2-1 against Aston Villa on the final day of the Premier League last season. They have not lost their final league game in consecutive campaigns since 1991/92 and 1992/93. The Blues are unbeaten in 11 when finishing their league season at home (W8 D3), since a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa in 2001/02.
  • Watford’s only victory on the final day of a Premier League season came in their first campaign in the competition in 1999/00 (D2 L4). No other Premier League team has a lower win rate on the final day than the Hornets (14 per cent).
  • Chelsea hold the record for the biggest victory on the last day of a Premier League season, beating Wigan Athletic 8-0 to seal the title in 2009/10. Meanwhile, only Arsenal (64) have scored more goals in their final Premier League games than the Blues (57).
  • Watford have won 65 per cent of their Premier League points away from home this season (15/23). Only Crystal Palace in 1997/98 have a higher share (67 per cent). If the Hornets win on Sunday, they will set a new such record, while a draw would see them equal the Eagles from that campaign.

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

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N’Golo Kante was a prime candidate to feature in this section following some intriguing comments by Thomas Tuchel on Friday. But Romelu Lukaku trumps his Chelsea teammate, as the game on Sunday could be one of the most crucial outings of his career.

Lukaku has shown signs of a turnaround recently, but inconsistency remains a big issue for Tuchel when it comes to the Belgian international. However, with Chelsea expected to play without any baggage, Lukaku will have the chance to set the record straight and show he can still be around at Stamford Bridge next season.

Prediction

Chelsea 3-0 Watford

Watford will be down to the bare bones due to the fitness issues plaguing Roy Hodgson’s squad. So the veteran manager might head into retirement on a losing note, with the gulf in quality between the Hornets and Chelsea being enormous.

However, the Blues have been susceptible defensively as they found out the hard way against Leicester City earlier this week. But Chelsea should breeze past Watford on Sunday, with Mason Mount and Romelu Lukaku running riot in the final third. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Chelsea on Sunday.

One Response to “Chelsea vs Watford Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats”

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  1. Samwel ekal says:

    Lukaku should play Alongside Mount and Havertz/Ziyech

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