Trips to Vicarage Road are back on the menu, following Watford’s return to Premier League football after a quick passage in the Championship last season. But we cannot be certain if the Hornets will be in the top division for long, as they sit awfully close to the relegation zone while showing few signs that they can rely on themselves — and not on three other, worst teams — to get out of the quagmire.
Surely this should not warrant Chelsea too much confidence. As much as we “deserved” to win against Manchester United last weekend, the 1-1 draw was the humbling we needed ahead of what will be a very difficult month of several matches and little time to rest our players. We are already feeling it, with several of our players either doubtful or simply unavailable for this match.
But we have to make do with what we got. Thomas Tuchel is ready, and so should be whoever is called into action by the German boss.
Date / Time: Wednesday, December 1st, 19.30 GMT; 2:30pm EST; 1am IST (next day)
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford, England
Referee: David Coote (on pitch); Darren England (VAR)
Forecast: Light cloud and a gentle breeze
On TV: none (UK); none (US); Star Sports Select 2 (India); SuperSport Variety 2 ROA (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Premier Player HD, Amazon Prime Video (UK); Peacock (US); JioTV, Hotstar VIP (India); none (NGA)
Watford team news: Young Spanish manager Xisco brought Watford back from the Championship to the Premier League after taking the Hornets over in December last year. However his skills at the highest level of English football were not up to par as Watford saw themselves with two wins and a draw in seven matches to start the Premier League season.
The Pozzo family is not known for patience; nor for moderation when it comes to make swift changes in management of their teams. And so they sacked Xisco with little to no hesitation, bringing Claudio Ranieri to the fold in his place in early October.
Ever since, Watford’s PL form has not really improved much, with two wins and four losses since Ranieri’s takeover. They were impressive in their wins against Everton away (5-2) and Manchester United at home (4-1). Otherwise, they are still marred by problems which will be very difficult for the veteran manager to solve using what he has in hand.
The Blues have their fair share of injured players. But perhaps no other squad in the PL has had it worse than the Hornets. Their list is at least sevenfold, with goalkeeper Ben Foster, defenders Nicolas Nkoulou and Francisco Sierralta, midfielders Ken Sema and Peter Etebo, and attackers Ismaïla Sarr and Kwadwo Baah all out of contention. They might soon be joined by midfielder Juraj Kucka and striker Emmanuel Dennis, who picked up knocks during Watford’s 4-2 defeat to Leicester City at King Power Stadium last Saturday.
Chelsea team news: Why United are so consistently a pain for Chelsea to deal with no matter their form, is something that we all wonder whenever we face them. Especially at Stamford Bridge, with our last home win against them taking place in November 2017.
Ben Chilwell’s absence for at the very least six weeks due to a knee injury is not ideal, and we really felt it during the 1-1 draw to United last weekend. The timing, as we look at the potential precipice of a December schedule with too many games and too little time to rest our best players, makes it all much worse.
But it is what it is. We also have major losses in midfield with both Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kanté confirmed to be out of contention by Tuchel in his pre-match press conference. They might be joined by Jorginho, Reece James and Timo Werner, all of which had fitness issues either during or after the United encounter.
Hope however is not yet lost. This is as good of a time as any for Chelsea to prove they really have the best squad in the Premier League, filling in the shoes of big players to keep us ahead in the Premier League trophy race.
Previously: A proper 3-0 takedown of Watford at the Bridge, with Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley scoring for the home side.