Back to winning ways!
Chelsea beat Watford 3-0 in what was rather comfortable game to remain 4th in the table 2 points ahead of Manchester United and 1 point behind Leicester. Getting 3 points in this game was important after the loss against West Ham and United having won earlier and Chelsea having dropped to 5th the pressure was on. Lampard ran the changes in some key areas as Kepa stayed in goal, with Azpilicueta switching to left back and Reece James coming in as right back. Rudiger was moved to the bench with Zouma coming in algonside Christensen. Kante continued as the CDM while Mount and Barkley played as attacking eights. Pulisic and Willian kept their places on the wings with Giroud returning to the starting XI. A strong lineup and changes that the fanbase wanted as the game kicked off.
Chelsea dominated the game from kick off as it became clear that Pearson had set his team up to play on the counter. Christensen and Zouma had plenty of time and space to pick out passes and play out from the back as their was little to no pressure. Giroud went close a couple of times but Ben Foster made some good saves and the Watford defence stayed solid. The breakthrough came in the 28th minute as Mount played an incisive pass to Barkley who played the ball into Giroud who aimed for the bottom right corner and scored. It was an expert finish and Chelsea had a lead. Chelsea kept on bringing wave after wave of attacks and the 2nd goal came in the 43rd minute as Pulisic broke through the defence for the upteenth time and drew a foul from an on rushing Capoue. Willian stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 2-0 at half time.
The 2nd half started in the same fashion as Chelsea dominated the play and continued to search for the 3rd goal. Watford offer no threat and finally came close when Welbeck was brought on but Kepa made a brilliant save. Around the 76th minute Lampard made a triple change with Giroud, Willian, and Mount coming off for Tammy, Hudson-Odoi, and Loftus-Cheek. Gilmour was also brought on for Kante as the Frenchman felt a slight niggle in his hamstring. Due to the changes there was a period of 5 minutes where Watford were able to create a few chances but the defence stayed strong. Pulisic was brought down again in the box but a penalty was not given this time. The final goal came in the 92nd minute as Azpilicueta found Barkley with a cut back and the Barkley expertly finished into the roof of the net. 3-0 and we remain 4th.
Player Review –
Kepa – A good game for our goalkeeper although he didn’t have much to do. The 2 times he was called into action he made good saves and kept the cleansheet. Kepa will feel that the next 5 games are his final chance in Lampard’s eyes.
Azpilicueta – Azpi continues to give that consistency in defence whether its on the left or right. The veteran is probably our best left back at the moment.
Zouma – Zouma did extremely well as he came back into the team. He kept Deeney quiet with his physicality and blocked out any stray balls. It made me think what could have been if he was the one who had been marking Antonio in the West Ham game. Zouma needs to start the remaining games and cannot be the defender that is sold during the summer.
Christensen – Christensen had another solid game in my eyes as Zouma and him need to be are starting centre back pair for the remainder of the season. They have their problems but they offer the most consistency at the moment.
James – Reece James was good at right back, he still seems to be getting back to fitness as he struggled in the initial moments of the 1st half. As the game went on though he began to make more of an impact and started delivering those inch perfect crosses he is known for. The more he plays the more the quality should return.
Kante – Kante seems to be the new choice in Lampard’s new formation with attacking eights. Kante’s defensive skills are known by all but the Frenchman is working on his distribution and passing skills as well. As Kante adjusts to his new role there is no doubt that he could become a great CDM.
Barkley – Barkley had another good game with a goal and an assist to his name. The consistent game time seems to be doing him a world of good but he still seems rather slow in the buildup. Overall very good but that consistency remain’s a negative and the fact that Watford sat very deep.
Mount – Mason Mount was named man of the match and it was clear to many why. The youngster didn’t get a goal or an assist but his linkup play and pressing in the midfield was crucial in both our attack and recoveries of the ball. In my analysis of Havertz I stated that someone like Mount playing alongside the German would make for a highly interesting midfield duo and Mount is surely making a case for it.
Willian – Another goal for Willian from the penalty spot which again originated from a foul on Pulisic. 3 goals in the last two games and the Brazilian has now had his best season as a Chelsea player. Good for Willian he is playing for a job and he is leaving Chelsea on a good personal high.
Pulisic – Pulisic just looks like he is channeling the attitude of Hazard from the 12/13 season. The way his attracting fouls in crucial areas and driving with the ball is mesmerising at times. The American is proving that he wants to be a massive part in the team going forward and he has been are most crucial player since football returned.
Giroud – Giroud was great as the target man once again as he got a goal and linked up well with the players around him. The veteran striker continues to be our best option up top as Tammy looks to regain form.
Subs – Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, and Tammy didn’t really get much time to settle in but it felt good to see the likes of Callum back on the pitch while RLC continues to look sharper in each game. Loftus-Cheek could have scored after a brilliant cross by Reece James but he missed the target. Gilmour was shaky when he came on as he couldn’t handle the physicality of Doucoure or Chalobah but he grew into the game in the final few minutes.
3 points and a clean sheet is a good day at the office. Chelsea will now play Crystal Palace on Tuesday night as we look to continue this good form. Also how good does the new home kit look! COME ON YOU BLUES!!!