A midfield of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Saúl Ñíguez proved too weak to handle Watford’s early pressure. Although that was expected, given how the Hornets have been quite aggressive especially when playing at home under Claudio Ranieri, it was a scary sight with the hosts twice getting close to an opener via João Pedro.
The match was stopped at minute 13 due to a medical emergency at the stands. Once players returned from the tunnel, Watford were back to their aggressive play which could have been easily exploited had Chelsea been in better shape.
But as the match progressed, Chelsea got closer and closer to the final third with intent. The first proper sign of shape of things to come was Mount hitting woodwork with a volley, in what would have been an amazing goal by the young midfielder/attacker.
His next shot would hit the right target. An assist by Kai Havertz after a good offensive move to exploit all the spaces left by Watford throwing themselves at our half, and the opener was ours.
Watford would not give up in their quest to bring maximum annoyance. A poor midfield giveaway by Loftus-Cheek, and Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis is set up with a great chance in our penalty box. He finds a gap through Antonio Rüdiger’s legs to take a simple finish and beat Mendy, helped by the deflection as the ball still hit the German defender.
With the midfield giving us so much trouble, Tuchel decided to “innovate” by bringing Thiago Silva on in place of Saúl after half-time. The change brought Chalobah to the midfield, pairing up with Loftus-Cheek.
That was far from a bad decision. Despite a few fumbles to start, Chalobah started to bring much needed stability to midfield play. Watford were seemingly no longer as inclined to aggressive play, as fewer sloppy passes were exchanged.
The issue then became poor refereeing, as it is usually the case in the Premier League. When you sell your competition as the toughest out there, you are bound to see some ridiculous fouls not being given to the “underdog” hosts.
Although Chalobah was not the victim of this refereeing, he still fell to injury — most likely due to exhaustion after so many matches over the last few months. He was substituted by Hakim Ziyech, with Mount playing central midfield next to RLC.
The last change was Romelu Lukaku in place of captain César Azpilicueta, with Rüdiger taking the armband in his place. While most would expect immediate impact from the striker in terms of goalscoring, it was Hakim Ziyech who got our second score of the day after a great offensive play and brilliant finish in the penalty box.
It was then a matter of not letting Watford grow back into the match. That would require good defending by the Blues, and tenacity from our strikers to keep the ball in their half. We did not do either as brilliantly as we can, but it was good enough to keep the lead and take the three points back home.
- Perhaps a somewhat surprising squad selection today. Saúl is given a chance to impress from central midfield, while Kai Havertz is back to leading the line despite our two “natural” strikers, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, being both fit and available for today.
- Subs are: Thiago Silva for Saúl, Hazim Ziyech for Trevoh Chalobah, and Romelu Lukaku for César Azpilicueta
- I am afraid Saúl is a goner
- God damn injuries
- God damn December scheduling
- Mason Mount is a gem
- Next up: West Ham at London Stadium, in less than 72 hours, for the Premier League