FULL TIME: Winner winner!
90+4min: Chelsea defend the corner and almost get an empty-netter but Kante can’t quite pull the trigger with Foster stranded upfield. Hazard then has a chance at the hat-trick, but Foster makes a good save. And then the referee’s whistle blows and CHELSEA WIN!
93min: Barkley gives the ball away and Watford have a corner...
90min: 4 minutes added on as Rudiger can’t quite get his header on target.
85min: Emerson on for Hudson-Odoi, who seemed to be favoring his left leg. Jorginho then goes close from range after a corner.
80min: Hudson-Odoi gives the ball away and Watford fashion a nice cross for Deeney, who tries a first-time effort on goal. Fortunately it spins over. Barkley on for Kovacic after that.
79min: Great counter by Chelsea, started by Hudson-Odoi and Kante, and the latter gets the return ball from Hazard, but his shot goes wide of the far post.
76min: Atkinson giving another cheap foul (cheap, considering how he’s called the game so far)
74min: Quina buys the foul off Kante in a dangerous crossing position out wide. Holebas swings it in, Kovacic heads clear.
72min: Willian misses by inches after great work from Kovacic and Hazard down the left. The move started with some solid defending from Alonso and good covering from Jorginho, too.
67min: Domingos Quina on for Watford as the pattern of play continues unchanged and Chelsea looking comfortable except when sloppily giving the ball away.
60min: Kante loses the ball and Watford are almost in, but Kepa’s out quickly to intercept. Sloppy play from the Blues.
58min: GOAL!!!! Hazard makes no mistake from the spot! 2-1, CHELSEA!
57min: And out of nowhere, a penalty! Jorginho finds Hazard with a ball over the top, spins and is in on goal until he’s taken down by Foster, who gets a yellow.
56min: David Luiz wins a cheap free kick as Watford were putting on an exellent high press once again.
54min: Atkinson continues to not call a very tight game, letting both teams play. Deulofeu goes to ground in the box after going shoulder-to-shoulder with David Luiz but the referee rightly waves play on.
49min: Chelsea keep the ball for a couple minutes but can’t quite work an opening. David Luiz then tries a ball over the top for Kante, but Foster’s on hand to collect.
SECOND-HALF: Back underway; no changes for either side.
HALF-TIME: All level at 1 then after two goals in four minutes of added-on time in the first half. Chelsea not playing terribly but terribly lacking a presence in the box who can consistently finish chances. Hazard missed an absolute sitter and Willian has hit the post as well. Pedro’s injury could be concerning.
45+4min: GOAL, Watford. From the ensuing corner, Pereyra finishes with a ridiculous volley. 1-1.
45+3min: A poor clearing header from Rudiger falls to Doucoure, but Kepa’s on hand to make the save.
45+1min: GOAL!!!! Eden Hazard doesn’t miss this time. Capoue gives the ball away and Kovacic pounces, carrying it forward then laying it on for Hazard who takes it around the keeper and slots home easy as you like. It’s his 100th goal for the club! 1-0 CHELSEA!!!
43min: Pedro’s replaced by Hudson-Odoi.
41min: Chelsea’s counter is incredibly foiled by two amazing Watford sliding tackles. Pedro comes up holding his left hamstring.
37min: Deulofeu nicks the ball off Jorginho and Watford are in, but a last-ditch block by David Luiz prevents an easy goal for Deeney. Luiz then clears the corner as well.
36min: Deulofeu tries to buy a foul but Atkinson’s unmoved. Chelsea then play out from the back rather excellently and are in, but Alonso’s cross hits a heel before it get to either Willian or Hazard.
34min: Strong work from Chelsea continues as Hazard beats two and plays in Pedro, but the pass is just a bit too strong and Pedro’s forced wide.
33min: Eden Hazard somehow misses the easy tap-in as Azpilicueta lays a perfect ball across the face of goal. How did he manage that?
32min: Pass pass pass and a half-chance for Kante, but he’s crowded out and Watford counter as Deeney beats Rudiger for strength. But Doucoure’s shot is wild and over.
28min: A great cross from Pedro goes to waste as Chelsea have no one in the box.
27min: Watford come forward on the right and Deulofeu and Doucoure combine. Jorginho covers Rudiger and makes a crucial block on the shot.
26min: Hazard finally wins a foul as Mariappa fouls him on the turn. Willian’s low cross is just behind Hazard making a good run and the chance is gone.
24min: Hazard runs around four and gets taken down, but no call from Atkinson. A bit of midfield ping-ball ensues before Willian wins a free kick to settle things down. But the attacking move breaks down as Capoue checks Pedro and gets away with it.
19min: Watford have a free kick near midfield and find Sema in acres of space on the far post, but his is poor and Kepa collects easily.
17min: Watford keep possession as Chelsea waste a great chance to counter when Willian miscontrols an errant square ball. Kepa eventually collects a weak header from the hosts.
15min: Kabesele tries to carry on, but is unable and Mariappa replaces him. It was a very hard collision with the goalpost for Kabesele.
9min: Kepa gives the ball away in front of goal, but Watford over-complicate with a backheel and Chelsea survive. Chelsea break forward and Pedro pings a crossfield ball to Willian, who outruns everyone and rounds Foster ... but from a wide angle only hits the outside of the post. Kabasele for Watford slides into the goalpost in his attempt to block it and stay down for treatment.
7min: Chelsea pass it around without posing too much danger, then Azpi’s cross bounces back onto him and out and Watford have a throw deep in their own half.
3min: David Luiz finds Pedro, who exchanges a 1-2 with Willian as he runs across the top of the box, eventually taking aim with the left foot, but the curler goes just wide.
2min: First long-ball of the day from David Luiz get Chelsea forward, finding Azpilicueta and Chelsea establish possession. But Alonso’s cross takes a deflection and Foster collects easily.
KICK-OFF: Arsenal drop two points. Now to avoid a similar fate and open a two-point gap on the Gunners. Watford get us underway.
Another dramatic day in the Premier League as Manchester City LOSE again and fall to third as Spurs destroy Bournemouth. Liverpool thus have a six-point lead on everybody at the halfway mark of the season! Could THIS be their year? Let’s hope not.
Meanwhile, for us, three points is once again imperative, regardless of whether Arsenal can collect a win at Brighton (it’s 1-1 at the moment).
Chelsea opt for all-smalls once again, but maybe with Pedro in the middle this time (which would be my preference)? Hudson-Odoi makes the bench instead of Loftus-Cheek, as does Emerson instead of Zappacosta. Otherwise, it’s the same as on the weekend.
Here we go!
Watford starting lineup (4-4-2):
Foster | Holebas, Kabasele, Cathcart, Femenia | Pereyra, Capoue, Doucoure, Sema | Deeney, Deulofeu
Substitutes from: Gomes, Cleverley, Mariappa, Masina, Quina, Success, Okaka
Chelsea starting lineup (4-3-3):
Arrizabalaga | Alonso, David Luiz, Rudiger, Azpilicueta (c) | Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante | Hazard, Pedro, Willian
Substitutes from: Caballero, Cahill, Emerson, Fabregas, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud
Date / Time: Wednesday, December 26, 2018, 19:30 GMT; 2:30pm EST; 1am IST (next day)
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky GO (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo TV (affiliate link — USA only)
Be excellent to each other.