Goals; Watford- Pereyra (48′)
Chelsea- Hazard (47′), (58′ Pen)
Two goals from Eden Hazard helped the forward reach a landmark for Chelsea, as the Blues overcame the Hornets by two goals to one, earning an important win on boxing day.
The Belgians two goals helped him earn his 100th and 101st goal for Chelsea. He now joins the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba to the landmark of scoring 100 plus goals for Chelsea.
Sarri’s side bounced back after their disappointing defeat against Leicester at the weekend, and with this win- they now reclaim fourth spot from Arsenal.
Both teams started the game brightly, with both teams having chances to make it 1-0 early on in the 8th minute. Firstly, Kepa’s mistake led to a massive chance for Watford, but Delofeu’s back flick failed to find Deeney who would have had a tap-in, but Chelsea smothered it clear to Kepa’s relief.
Then down the other end, Kovacic slipped Willian through, and the Brazilian rounded Foster then rolled his shot towards the Watford goal but unluckily hit the outside of Foster’s post. That chance came in the expense of Kabasele who clattered into the post and then was subbed for Mariappa minutes after.
Pedro came off injured towards the end of the first half and was replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who made his first Premier League appearance this season in Sarri’s side.
Going into 4 minutes of injury time at the end of the first half, the game went up a notch, with Chelsea pouncing on a Capoue mistake, leading to Hazard being played through by Kovacic, and the Belgian rounded Foster and placed his finish into the empty net, to earn him his 100
two minutes 17 second later though, from a corner, Watford hit back. With Pereyra finishing off a well-worked Hornets set piece superbly to draw the side from Hertfordshire level going into halftime. That goal right on the stroke of half-time would have been a big psychological blow to Sarri’s side, going into the second half.
Chelsea started the second half better, and through balls from David Luiz and Hazard nearly found Kante in on goal twice, but a mixture of last-gasp defending and a bad touch from Kante prevented Chelsea from having two real good chances to make it 1-2 really early on in the second half.
However, Chelsea’s better start in the second half paid dividends in the 55th minute, when a lovely ball from Jorginho put Hazard through 1-on-1, and the Belgian was clattered by Foster and that resulted in a Chelsea penalty, which Hazard calmly rolled home for his 101st goal for Chelsea.
Chelsea did have chances to kill off the game. however the likes of Willian, Kante and Jorginho failed to add to the Blues slender 1-2 lead.
Watford nearly made Chelsea pay for not finishing the game off late on, when Troy Deeney muscled his way in front of David Luiz, and the English target man’s effort from a cross from the left hand side was poked just over Kepa’s bar to David Luiz’s relief.
The game ended in a frantic manner but Chelsea held on for an important win to get themselves back in the top 4.
Hazard reached a landmark for Chelsea
Hazard has now reached a landmark of scoring over 100 goals now for Chelsea after his two goals today.
And he made some interesting comments after the game to Sky Sports; “101 goals with this amazing club is something I will never forget. Now me, the fans and this club want more. I will try to be a legend like Terry, Drogba and Lampard.” Does this suggest that he will sign a new contract and commit his long term future to the club, by stating that he wants to be a Chelsea Legend?
Mixed fortunes for Hudson-Odoi
The young English talent came off the bench to replace the injured Pedro in the first half, to gain his 1st appearance under Sarri in the Premier League this season.
However, he was subbed off in the 85th minute to the sound of boos amongst the Chelsea fan base who showed displeasure towards Sarri for that decision, and initially it looked like it was for tactical reasons. And if that was the case, then that would be seen as a ludicrous decision by Sarri. But many people on social media think that he had an injury, so it still needs to be cleared up by Sarri what happened.
The Blues end Watford’s mini unbeaten run in the league
Watford were 3 unbeaten in the League coming into this game, and this was seen as a chance to get a win against Chelsea at home, but the Blues ended that good run for the Hornets, and also that win for the Blues wiped out the bad memories of last seasons 4-1 hammering to the side from Hertfordshire.
Player and Manager Ratings
Foster- 5 (wiped out Hazard for Chelsea’s winning goal from the spot)
Kiko- 5 (average)
Cathcart- 5 (Opened up by Chelsea on quite a few occasions)
Kabasele- 6 (Unfortunate to go off injured after the Willian chance. Hope he recovers soon. but showed determination to get back and prevent what he thought would be a Chelsea goal)
Holebas- 7 (Dealt with Hudson-Odoi well)
Sema- 5 (Failed to convert his chances)
Doucouré- 6 (Solid on the whole
Capoue- 3 (Made a massive mistake for Chelsea’s opening goal)
Pereyra- 7 (Brilliant goal from the set piece)
Deulofeu- 7 (Good on the whole, but David Luiz dealt with him well)
Deeney- 8 (Won every aerial battle against Chelsea’s defence. Caused Rüdiger multiple problems)
Mariappa- 6 (Did a good job when he came on for Kabasele)
Quina- 6 (Didn’t have enough time to make a noticeable impact)
Success- 6 (Didn’t have enough time to make a noticeable impact)
Manager Rating- Watford Manager: Javi Gracia- 7- Team selection spot on. Selecting the same team that had got Watford on a good run. But unfortunately for him, the quality shone through from the opposition.
Kepa- 5 (Dodgy today. Nearly made a fatal error to gift Watford the first goal of the game, but Deulofeu didn’t punish him)
Alonso- 4 (Caught out defensively too much on the left side)
Luiz- 7 (Solid. Better of the centre backs today for the Blues)
Rüdiger- 5 (Sloppy on quite a few occasion. Lost the aerial battles to Deeney)
Azpilicueta- 6 (delivered some lovely crosses in attack, but was caught out defensively)
Kovacic- 8 (One of his best games for Chelsea. Got an assist for Hazards first goal)
Jorginho- 6 (Bit too slow in possession, but played a lovely ball to Hazard who earned a penalty from that lovely attack)
Kanté- 6 (Played well on the whole. Missed a few chance though)
Willian- 7 (One of his better games, but he still didn’t score)
Pedro- 4 (Unfortunate to get injured, but didn’t do much when he was on the pitch)
Hazard- 9 (MOTM- Was brilliant for Chelsea today. Showing that he can play the false 9 in Sarri’s attacking system)
Hudson-Odoi- 7 (Good cameo. surprised when he was taken off)
Barkley- 5 (His cameo from the bench showed why Loftus-Cheek is better in the midfield)
Emerson- 6 (Helped Alonso out on the left side when he came on to defend)
Manager Rating- Chelsea Manager: Maurizio Sarri- 8- Initially i thought that he was stubborn for picking the same team that lost against Leicester. But his persistence paid off in the end and his side responded after their disappointing defeat against Leicester.
Match Statistics (Credit- BBC Sports)
Possession (%) 35 65
Shots 10 10
Shots on Target 2 4
Corners 3 5
Fouls 15 5
Manager Comments after the game(Credit- BBC and Sky Sports)
Watford manager Javi Gracia told Sky Sports: “I think we competed very well. I think we started the second half well by pressing high, but in that moment if you make a mistake they can score a second goal. Maybe after we scored our goal, in that moment we were playing better but we conceded the second.
“We know they are a very good team and maybe if there was another decision when we were playing and Gerard Deulofeu goes into the box, maybe it could have been different. I think it was a penalty.”
On the Watford goal: “We try to practice different corner kicks and I am happy for the goal but today it was not enough. We will try to improve and be better.
On Christian Kabasele: “At this moment I do not know anything because he is not with us, he is in the hospital.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri told BBC Sport: “Maybe Saturday in the first half we played with more quality than today. We had more attention and our determination continued for 90 minutes. We could have won with another result because in the last 20-25 minutes we missed opportunities. At the end of the match, we did very well, especially mentally.
“Eden Hazard can play in every position. He played very well with two goals and could have had two or three assists. He can play with team-mates very well.
“We don’t know how much Pedro is injured, we will evaluate tomorrow. That is the same problem with Callum Hudson-Odoi. He had a little injury a few days ago, yesterday it was good and he managed 50-55 minutes. We thought it was better to substitute him.
“We have to try to stay close to the top four. The target this season could only be to stay close and to enter into the Champions League. Liverpool are playing really well especially with the continuity to win the Premier League.”
Position in the PL table
Chelsea jump back into fourth decision after thier victory tonight. They have 40 points, and are only four points off third placed Manchester City, after the Sky Blues lost 2-1 away at Leicester earlier today. The Blues have also taken advantage of Arsenal dropping points against Brighton today. The Blues are two points ahead of fifth placed Arsenal, and eight points ahead of sixth placed Manchester United. Whereas for the Hornets, they drop to ninth position after Leicester and Everton both won earlier today. Watford have 27 points- level with Everton but below them on goal difference. And only one point off the foxes in seventh position.
Next games for both teams
Watford are next in action on Saturday at home to Newcastle at 3pm, looking to get back on the right track after their tight loss today against Chelsea. Chelsea face a tough match away to Crystal Palace on Sunday at 12pm as they look to build some momentum after their tight 1-2 win against Watford tonight.
Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s Post match analysis podcast later this week on Sportstalkline.com
Also Check out my podcast with Hannah on ABDHFootball later this week, where we will review all the boxing day action in the Premier League.
By Danyal Khan
Categories: Premier League