First Team 02/11/2019

Match Report: Watford 1-2 Chelsea

By Kevin Affleck

The game against Norwich City on Friday night just increased in magnitude after the team's winless start to the season continued at home to Chelsea.

Games against teams of the calibre of Frank Lampard's side, who deservedly won here with goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic at the start of each half, aren't going to shape the outcome of the season so that puts plenty of importance on the match at Carrow Road between the bottom two. 

There was a sign, however small, that the luck might be starting to turn and they can at least go to East Anglia with something to cling to: a first home goal since the Arsenal game and a VAR decision that finally, thank the lord, went their way. The crowd also by and large stuck with the team and their unwavering support is going to be vital in the remaining 27 games. 

There was also a bit of fire in the belly, Craig Dawson thundering into a challenge with Emerson Palmieri that should never have been deemed a foul let alone a yellow card while Gerard Deulofeu picked a fight with Jorginho. The team are going to need that fighting spirit, and plenty more of it, if they are going to drag themselves away from danger. It's going to need all hands to the pump.

Given the struggles in front of goal and the nature of the game-plan, the Hornets needed to keep things tight for as long as possible and ensure it wasn't going to take several goals for them to get a positive result. That notion went out of the window after just five minutes. It was perhaps going to take something special to get a through a defence that hadn't been breached at home in the league for just over four hours and Jorginho provided. The Brazilian picked out the arcing run of Abraham with a sublime pass that found the gap between Craig Cathcart and Dawson. His right foot could open cans of food let alone defence. 

Abraham was not about to spurn a gift like that and he lifted the ball over the over the on-rushing Ben Foster. Foster was furious at the space Abraham had found but sometimes you just have to doff your hat to the quality of the pass.

Chelsea were now in their stride, buzzing from the confidence of that nerve-settling early goal and they popped the ball around with real purpose and precision. It didn't help that Craig Cathcart had to go after so early, although the captain bravely soldiered on for eight minutes until he could take no more. In his absence, Foster had to have his wits about him, saving from Abraham, Pulisic and then, right at the end of the half, the pick of the bunch to tip a long-ranger from Mason Mount onto the underside of the bar. The former England 'keeper has been right back to his best in the last two matches.

Quique Sánchez Flores need to alter the dynamic of this one and he did so by switching from a 5-2-2-1 to 5-3-2. It made a noticeable difference and the team were definitely more on the front foot. Roared on by a deafening rendition of Elton John's Taylor made army, the team found its feet and started to throw the odd punch. Roberto Pereyra let fly with one on the half-turn and then Deulofeu fizzed one past the far post with his left foot. It was much more like it. 

The front-foot approach continued immediately after the break, with Fikayo Tomori required to pull off a last-ditch tackle to prevent Andre Gray really testing Kepa Arrizabalaga from 12 yards. You hoped that might be the start of a second-half fight-back, the moment to light the blue touch paper, but Chelsea had a bit too much going forward for that to be the case.

Just minutes after Foster clawed one away from Mount, Chelsea killed the game with a second from Pulisic who had the easiest task of tucking away a centre from Abraham. And that it was it really, game over ten minutes of the second half. 

There was a flicker of a fightback when VAR deemed Jorginho had tripped Deulofeu in the box on 80 minutes. After an extraordinary wait, the spot-kick was awarded and Deulofeu grabbed the ball and sent Arrizabalaga the wrong way. The fact he was adamant he was taking it, despite the presence of Pereyra on the field, was another positive to take and showed his confidence levels are getting back to where they need to be.

The Hornets ended the match in the ascendancy, at least having a go and throwing the cutlery at Chelsea if not the kitchen sink. They almost did it in the most unlikely circumstances, Foster coming within a whisker of finding the bottom corner with a header. It would have capped an extraordinary performance from the 'keeper.

It wasn't to be but there was just about enough to cling to go into Friday's game with some hope, some optimism. It's now time to turn things around. 


HORNETS: Foster; Janmaat (Femenía 75), Kabasele, Dawson, Cathcart (Mariappa 20), Holebas; Doucouré, Chalobah (Hughes 67); Pereyra, Deulofeu; Gray.

Subs not used: Gomes, Hughes, Success, Holebas, Foulquier

First Team 01/11/2019

Match Pack: Watford v Chelsea

As the Hornets prepare to host Chelsea at Vicarage Road in the Premier League, here is all you need to know about the fixture...


INFO

  • Watford v Chelsea
  • Premier League
  • Vicarage Road Stadium
  • Saturday November 2, 5.30pm GMT

TICKETS

  • Still on sale to Home Groups A-D online, over the phone or in person - click HERE for details.

HOW TO FOLLOW

  • Live commentary of the match will be available at watfordfc.com.
  • This match will be televised on Sky Sports.
  • Find live coverage and behind-the-scenes content on our social channels!

OFFICIALS

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn
Fourth official: David Coote
VAR: Mike Dean
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child


TEAM NEWS

Quique Sánchez Flores reported that Isaac Success and possibly Étienne Capoue, who is “not 100 per cent”, could be in contention to face the Blues this weekend. Troy Deeney, Ismaïla Sarr, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Domingos Quina are unavailable through injury.

Frank Lampard confirmed Antonio Rüdiger and N'Golo Kanté are not fit, while Ross Barkley and Andreas Christensen are not far away from recovery.


OPPOSITION FORM

Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League going into the weekend’s fixtures. After a slow start under Frank Lampard the Blues are now flying, having won their four previous matches, scoring 11 goals. Christian Pulisic opened his Chelsea account in impressive style last weekend, scoring a hat-trick against Burnley. Lampard's side is a young one, as a transfer ban has presented opportunities to the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori, but they come to Vicarage Road knowing, if results go their way, they could move to as high as second in the table.


HEAD TO HEAD

Overall:

Won 10, Drawn 6, Lost 19

Last Six:

May 2019: Chelsea 3-0 Watford (Premier League)
Dec 2018: Watford 1-2 Chelsea (Pereyra) (Premier League)
Feb 2018: Watford 4-1 Chelsea (Deeney, Janmaat, Deulofeu, Pereyra) (Premier League)
Oct 2017: Chelsea 4-2 Watford (Doucoure, Pereyra) (Premier League)
May 2017: Chelsea 4-3 Watford (Capoue, Janmaat, Okaka) (Premier League)
Aug 2016: Watford 1-2 Chelsea (Capoue) (Premier League)


GOLDEN FLASHBACK

February 5, 2018 – Watford 4-1 Chelsea: Troy Deeney’s penalty and late goals from Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra sealed a victory over Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side in 2018. Eden Hazard’s 82nd-minute equaliser appeared to have salvaged a point for the visitors, but it only spurred the Hornets on to score three goals in seven minutes and put a 10-man Chelsea side to the sword. The victory was Watford’s biggest of the season, and an impressive one against the reigning champions.


PLAYED FOR BOTH

Paul Furlong

Furlong joined Watford in 1992 and went on to make 79 appearances for the club, scoring 37 times. The striker scored 19 goals in his first season and was later voted the Hornets' Player of the Season. Furlong left the club in 1994 for Stamford Bridge, becoming Chelsea's record signing for a reported £2.3 million. He played for the Blues for two years, reaching the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in the process.

Steve Sherwood

Sherwood played for Watford for 11 years, making 211 league appearances over that time. The goalkeeper was part of Graham Taylor’s promotion squads which rose to the First Division and he started in the club's first FA Cup final appearance in 1984. He even has a goal to his name, having scored against Coventry in the same year. Sherwood started his career at Chelsea but only managed to make 16 appearances before moving out on loan and then permanently transferring to Watford in 1976.

Danny Drinkwater

On loan from Manchester United, Drinkwater joined the Hornets in January 2011 and made 12 appearances for the club. He has since gone on to win the Premier league with Leicester in 2016 as a mainstay in Claudio Ranieri’s side. Drinkwater initially joined the Hornets to gain experience away from the Manchester United academy and play senior football in Malky Mackay’s side. Alongside his Premier League winners medal, Drinkwater has made three appearances for England, and in one he was named Man of the Match.


WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?

Quique Sánchez Flores:

“I have analysed this team and they don't change their philosophy too much. They like to run, to play on the counter-attack and to recuperate the space when they concede some.

“They have good players in their side, they try to play well and they have a mix of qualities. Frank [Lampard] is a clever guy and he knows perfectly the club.

“Little by little, Chelsea is coming up to a position they deserve. We will try to play the way we want. We want to work really, really hard.”

Frank Lampard:

“On our winning run every game became more dangerous because of overconfidence. We know Watford’s personnel is similar to last year and we can’t underestimate a team that will be hurting. We’ll be certainly even more focused on what we have to do.

“On paper they are bottom of the league but they are wounded and a good team. The good thing about our winning run was how we dealt with different challenges. Watford will be another test for us, and if you want to be in the top four you need to show consistency.”