CHELSEA 3, WATFORD 0
By Omar Moore
July 4, 2020
A harder-working, more committed Watford slumped to a third consecutive defeat in their disappointing “Project Restart” at Stamford Bridge against a Chelsea side eager to shake off an unexpected loss at West Ham in midweek. Watford gave the home side a couple of nervy moments but Chelsea’s possession football caught out a disciplined Watford defence, which made three critical mistakes that led to goals.
Craig Dawson’s failure to close down space allowed Olivier Giroud to rifle into the far corner for 1-0. Giroud should have scored moments before the drinks break but Ben Foster’s kick save was the first real threat Chelsea made on the Watford goal. About 15 minutes later an inexplicable clattering challenge by an already yellow-carded Etienne Capoue into Christian Pulisic in the penalty box further subverted the away side. Capoue’s rashness and recklessness was punished by Willian, who slotted home the resulting penalty to double the Chelsea lead.
The two first half goals were gut punches for a Watford side who at times were much better than they had been in the prior two matches but whose moments of careless individual defensive discipline and poor mentality exposed them.
In the second half Watford chased shadows as Chelsea players enjoyed the freedom of a well-deserved lead and confidence. Until late on Watford never changed their tempo or grew into the game, nor did they pressure Chelsea, yielding far too much space on the pitch. Watford were run ragged, and looked less urgent about the trapdoor to the Championship that is potentially lurking.
Nigel Pearson opted for damage control subbing off Capoue, Troy Deeney, Ismaila Sarr and Kiko Femenia, who no doubt will all be ready to play in a must-win game against Norwich on Tuesday. The subs who came on made a livelier impact but it was too little much too late to change the scoreline, which only made for more grim reading after a missed Will Hughes open-goal opportunity then swiftly resulted in a late Ross Barkley strike for the home side.
Chelsea (out of 10): Kepa 6, James 6, Zouma 6, Christensen 6, Azpilicueta 7, Kante 7, Barkley 8, Mount 6, Willian 7, Giroud 7, Pulisic 8.
Substitutes: Loftus-Cheek 7, Hudson-Odoi 6, Abraham 6, Gilmour 6.
WATFORD (out of 10): Foster 8, Mariappa 6, Dawson 6, Kabasele 6, Femenia 7, Doucoure 7, Capoue 4, Hughes 8, Chalobah 7, Sarr 6, Deeney 6.
Substitutes: Welbeck 7, Cleverley 7, Masina 7, Pereyra 5.
Referee (out of 10): Kevin Friend 9.
Photo: Watford defender Christian Kabasele under fire by Chelsea goalscorer Olivier Giroud during the 3-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. (Credit: Editorials 360)