The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW33): Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Watford travel to Stamford Bridge looking to make distance between themselves and the relegation zone. The hosts Chelsea look to reclaim fourth spot after Manchester United beat Bournemouth earlier in the day, and extra incentive for the Blues was Arsenal’s away victory over Wolves.
The first half was one of few moments, with both teams battling away looking for supremacy. As seen in most games since the restart, Chelsea slowly worked their way into the game and built up their confidence, eventually pinning Watford to their own half. Troy Deeney was an isolated figure as the Watford defence dropped deeper. During the first half Giroud, Willian, and Mount all had free kicks that were lacking any quality, with two hitting the wall, and one blazing over. For players that spend all day training on technique and fitness, there is a lot to be desired about set pieces in this game from both teams.
The breakthrough came in the 28th minute for Chelsea, with Barkley and Giroud exchanging good, controlled passes around the Watford box. The Englishman fed the Frenchman who quickly struck the ball into the back post for the opener. Chelsea were well worth their lead, and they would continue their dominance up until half time, but just before that they did double their lead. Pulisic was fouled by Mariappa in the penalty box with a meaty challenge, and Willian coolly sent the keeper the other way in scoring his penalty. This is the third time, one in every of the last three weeks, that this exact combination has paid off for Chelsea.
The half time came with a tepid Watford, uncharacteristic of Nigel Pearson teams who tend to be more front footed and aggressive in search of survival.
The first Watford attempt that looked like a big chance was from Danny Welbeck in the 81st, the substitute replacing Deeney leading the Hornets attack. Welbeck found space after a neat reverse pass from Chalobah, and Kepa got low for a timely save. There was a call in the 85th minute when Pulisic goes over in the Watford box, but VAR adjudged Kabasele to not have not fouled the American, and it was the correct decision with Pulisic falling rather than being fouled.
Watford were more dogged as the time was running out. Danny Welbeck did well in dribbling past Reece James, dropped his shoulder and ran the line, and delivered a low cross to Will Hughes who was in front of an empty net, and he managed to completely miss the goal. This came to rue Watford when Chelsea finished the game with a blow. Chelsea played it around the Watford defence, and Azpilicueta at left-back delivered a cross to Ross Barkley who powered the ball past Ben Foster. Nigel Pearson threw his water bottle in a fit of anger upon seeing this goal scored.
Chelsea reclaimed fourth spot with a dominant performance, and Watford are hanging precariously above the relegation zone. The Hornets haven’t found their sting since the restart, and they are now running out of games to secure their Premier League status.
Goals: Giroud (1), Willian (1), Barkley
Assists: Barkley (1), Pulisic (1), Azpilicueta (1)
Man of the Match: Ross Barkley (CHE)
Chelsea have lots of midfield options to choose from, and Ross Barkley has continued to give Frank Lampard a headache over what is exactly the best midfield combination in his Blues squad. Starting with Mount ahead of a holding Kante, the Frenchman’s defensive abilities unlocked the Englishmen ahead of him. Barkley was a productive midfielder always driving his team forward, and he had his hand in the first goal with a beautiful weighted through-ball for Giroud’s goal.
Barkley was also helping his team win the midfield battle, and his performance was capped with a late goal that Foster had no chance of saving. This was a team performance from Chelsea, but it required the creativity and guile that Barkley offers to open the opposition defence up. Lampard will now have even more to think about after that performance, especially with Barkley having also scored the winner in the recent FA Cup game last week.
CHE 3-0 WAT - Insight and Analysis:
Chelsea were good today; this was the performance you’d expect after getting beaten by West Ham. Barkley injected a lot of composure into midfield and was why Chelsea could get over the line in this game. It wasn’t a perfect performance as there was a few late scared from Welbeck and Hughes that would have tied the game up, and Frank will be trying to figure out how to stop leaking so many key chances. Chelsea were lucky in that regards, and Lampard will be telling his players that better teams will score those two chances Watford didn’t convert. A win like today is a win for Chelsea.
Nigel Pearson will be furious with his squad. The big question is he makes the bold move to replace Troy Deeney, as it was obvious when Danny Welbeck was on the pitch that Watford were a lot more fluid and just didn’t hit and hope for Deeney to hold up the ball. Welbeck brought people into the game, and with Deeney upfront there was a lack of movement around him. Pearson should make some bold changes in order to stop the rot currently infecting the club since the restart.
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Manager: Frank Lampard
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta
CB: Andreas Christensen
CB: Kurt Zouma
RB: Reece James
CDM: N’Golo Kante (Gilmour 78')
CM: Ross Barkley
CM: Mason Mount (Hudson-Odoi 76')
LW: Christian Pulisic
RW: Willian (Loftus-Cheek 76')
ST: Olivier Giroud (Abraham 76')
Willy Caballero, Antonio Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Billy Gilmour, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Pedro, Tammy Abraham
Manager: Nigel Pearson
GK: Ben Foster
LB: Kiko Femenia (Masina 64')
CB: Christian Kabasele
CB: Craig Dawson
RB: Adrian Mariappa
CDM: Etienne Capoue (Wlebeck 58')
CDM: Nathaniel Chalobah
CAM: Abdoulaye Doucouré
LM: Will Hughes
RM: Ismaïla Sarr (Pereyra 83')
ST: Troy Deeney (Cleverley (64')
H. Gomes, T. Cleverley, D. Welbeck, A. Masina, C. Cathcart, J. Pedro, A. Gray, J. Holebas, R. Pereyra
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