It was never comfortable and it was never fluent, but in the end it was a win, and an important one at that, with Eden Hazard getting his century of goals for the club and Chelsea stepping two points ahead of Arsenal in the fight for fourth place in the Premier League.
The away side never quite settled into a rhythm as one might have expected, in large part due to Watford’s aggressiveness and willingness to press. As a result, the game was scrappy and both teams had opportunities on the break. But Maurizio Sarri found reason to be encouraged by Chelsea’s effort.
“Against Leicester the mentality was good, wrong it was the reaction from the negative situation. Very well in the approach and the level of the determination for 90 minutes. Maybe we played in quality against Leicester, but today we had much better application for the 90 minutes.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football.London
While the result on the pitch was satisfactory, the same cannot be said about a small number of fans in the stands. It was reported that there was racist chanting by a few, yet again. Sarri, who’s said he can’t understand songs sung in English — Zola once had to point out to him that the “Maurizio, Mauriziooo” chant is for him — nevertheless condemned the behavior.
Sarri on racist chanting by a minority of Chelsea supporrters tonight at Watford: "I don't want to generalise. Becuase 99% of our fans are really very good. But in every community I think there are some stupids. So we have to fight together against the stupid people."— Dan Levene (@danlevene) December 26, 2018
Despite this being the holiday season, with league fixtures are coming thick and fast, Sarri started the same eleven for a midweek match following their Saturday outing. After the disappointment of Leicester, they eventually made a good account of themselves today.
There are two more Premier League games coming up next, Sunday and then Wednesday (away to Palace and home against Southampton), before FA Cup action begins, and it’s hard to imagine Sarri flogging this same eleven again. But he’s a stubborn man and he doesn’t particularly like to rotate if he can help it. It’ll be interesting to see what changes — if any — he makes after seemingly getting the reaction he wanted from his A-team team at Vicarage Road.