The win streak is dead. Long live the win streak! Chelsea have won four in a row in the Premier League — league-best form — and head into another eminently winnable contest against the team at the very bottom of the table, who have won a grand total of zero games so far this season (5 draws, 5 losses).
They had won a couple in the League Cup, in the second and third rounds, but like Chelsea, were eliminated earlier this week, when they lost 2-0 to Everton. It was the fourth time in five games in all competitions that they’ve been kept off the scoreboard, too. In short, it’s been a horrendous few months at Vicarage Road after last season’s midtable finish and FA Cup final appearance, with the Hornets already on their second manager of the season.
But that also means that the only way is up. In a way, it’s a classic trap game for Chelsea, ahead of a key Champions League match coming up. Watford certainly have the talent to compete in this league, and eventually their luck will turn. Let’s hope it’s not this weekend.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 2, 2019, 17:30 GMT; 1:30pm EDT; 11pm IST
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, England
Referee: Anthony Taylor — We last saw Taylor on opening day, in the 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford. In fact, Chelsea have failed to win the last four times Taylor was the man in the middle, all away, all without scoring a single goal (2-0 to both Arsenal and Everton last season, plus a 0-0 draw at Leicester in the final game).
Forecast: Heavy rain, strong winds, winter is coming
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky GO Extra (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); HotStar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Watford team news: As bad as Watford have been, they’re actually on a three match unbeaten run in the league as well, thanks to three draws on the bounce — two of which were scoreless and the third was against downward spiraling Spurs. Still, even the worst Premier League team managed to win a game (one game, to be exact), so you never know.
The Hornets will be without team captain Troy Deeney, club record signing Ismaila Sarr, former Chelsea trainee Domingos Quina, and perpetually injured Danny Welbeck. Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, and Isaac Success could be in contention, but it’s the likes of Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra who could pose enough danger to make this an uncomfortable and annoying afternoon.
Former Chelsea prospect Nathaniel Chalobah is back healthy these days as well, and finally looking to get established in Watford’s midfield, over two years after joining from the Blues.
Chelsea team news: Frank Lampard confirmed that Antonio Rudiger remains out, and will in fact be seeing a specialist for his ongoing groin/pelvis issue. In better news, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, and Andreas Christensen could all be back next week, but are unlikely to feature in this one.
Lampard rotated about half the team for Wednesday’s League Cup tie, which should mean fresh legs for the attack and tired legs for the midfield. In defense, Emerson could finally make his comeback after Marcos Alonso crowned his team-leading eighth consecutive start in all competitions with a game-changing mistake.
Chelsea have established a solid position in fourth place, with a four-point lead over fifth place Arsenal. Now the challenge becomes to keep up that pace and not get dragged back into a top-six scuffle.
Previously: Eden Hazard bailed out Chelsea in the 2-1 win at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day last season.