And so, we enter February. The doldrums. Calm winds. Sudden storms. Hoping we don't run out of fresh water.
This time last year, the emphasis was on slow and steady. Protect the lead at the top of the table and prize shall be ours. And so we did and so it was. Boring, boring Champions.
We could use a bit more calm winds this time around as well, through with entirely different aims in mind. Top four is out, practically, if not mathematically (yet), and any designs of glory should be concentrated at the FA Cup and the Champions League. As bleak as the season's been, there's every chance of another 2012 still.
In a couple weeks, we'll have PSG (away) and Manchester City (home) in back-to-back cup dates. Until then, here's to smooth sailing.
Date / Time: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, England
Referee: Mike Dean — It's only the second time this season that we'll get to see the man who's refereed more Chelsea matches than anyone else in history. This will match #60 for Mr. Dean; Chelsea have won 38 and lost 9 of the previous 59, including the 2-0 win over Arsenal in September. (For those curious, Graham Poll's second at 52; Phil Dowd a distant third at 42.)
Forecast: Increasingly cloudy and cold
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports 4 / HD 4 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Watford team news: Since we last saw Watford a little over a month ago, they've won just 1 of their 5 league matches, the one win coming against relegation-threatened Newcastle. The Hornets also beat Newcastle in the FA Cup and then advanced to the fifth round by squeaking past lower league Nottingham Forest. And so while Odion Ighalo continues to score goals at an almost Jamie Vardy-esque pace, Watford's excellent late-autumn/early-winter run is the stuff of memory now. That's not to say they should be taken lightly — they remain defensively sound and you never know when or from where Ighalo or Deeney will pop up with a goal.
Watford have essentially zero injuries, though will be without Chelsea loanee and first-choice left back Nathan Ake, who will be ineligible as per league rules. New signing Mario Suarez could make his debut. The former Atletico man is on loan from Fiorentina and is probably a very shrewd and very good signing for the club.
Chelsea team news: No new boys are expected to make their debuts just yet, and Hiddink will also be without backup strikers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao. Willian is a concern and will probably be a game-time decision depending on how his bruised foot feels.
Over the weekend, Chelsea opened the floodgates on poor hapless MK Dons, scoring five and missing five more in a five-star rout. It was our ninth match in a row without a loss, and third successive away victory. Incidentally, Watford already have featured in this unbeaten run, in match #2, which only ended as a draw thanks to a missed penalty from Oscar and two rather unfortunate goals conceded by Chelsea.
Previously: This is Watford's first season back in the top flight since 2007. That year, Salomon Kalou scored a dramatic late goal in our visit to Vicarage Road.