Date: Sunday 5th May 2019
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
I feel like a right old grouch. It’s our last home game of the season, Spurs lost yesterday, giving us the opportunity to pinch 3rd spot off them and yet I don’t feel inspired at all. No excitement, no joy at the prospect of knocking an already demoralised Spurs side off what they consider their rightful perch, just a feeling of dread at the thought that yet again we’ll fail to take advantage of the gift that North London lot have been trying their best to hand us for the last couple of weeks.
We come into the game off the back of a reasonable result in Europe midweek and yet, despite an away goal and dominant display second half, there’s no hiding from the fact we could, and probably should have done better. Worse still, despite Loftus-Cheek having an outstanding game, we can’t even trust Sarri to play him again today. And there-in lies Chelsea’s problem this season. We can’t afford to rest our best players at this stage of a season but Sarri might, as he did with Hazard in the first half midweek. We are without a win in our last three in the league, so we can’t always be thinking about the next game when the game in front of us might be our best, and only chance to get something out of such a torturous season.
For Watford, they might have the FA Cup on their minds but they’ll come with the intention of causing us as many problems as they can this afternoon. We already know our last game of the season might see us drop points, so if we can’t secure three today, my pessimism might not be as misplaced as some might think.
Going into today’s game, Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri says, “We’ve played 58 matches so injuries are typical. We were lucky previously but not in the last 10 days. We have to play again 62 hours after our last game, but it’s up to us to recover mentally and have a very high level of motivation and confidence. It’s a dangerous match, of course. After 62 hours any opponent would be dangerous. It won’t be easy. In England every match is a battle, and you risk paying for that. We spent physical and mental energy against Frankfurt. We will need to change some players in the starting XI. I don’t know how many, but I think four or five players. We have the top four in our hands, but we need to win the last matches.”
Watford head coach Javi Gracia meanwhile, says “Sarri is a great manager. He did it really well in different teams, in different countries. In my opinion, he’s one of the best and he deserves all my respect. It’s tough to compete against Liverpool and City, but Sarri in my opinion is a very good professional. After that, during the different seasons can happen different things, and not always the teams get the best results. Sometimes you need time, sometimes you need a period to adapt the managers to adapt the players, but I think they’re playing well. They’re in a European semi-final with a very good result in the first game, with a lot of possibilities to play a final. I think they’re doing good things. I think all these clubs are always very very demanding, they need to get the best results and if you don’t get them, you always are living in problems.”
For Chelsea, Antonio Rudiger (knee) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) are out for the rest of the season and Gary Cahill is a doubt with an Achilles tendon problem. Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be ok despite being substituted midweek and Eden Hazard should start, in what is being tagged as his last Premier League appearance at Stamford Bridge. Ethan Ampadu meanwhile, will probably have to hand back the filter tips he’s hidden if he’s to get a few minutes before the end of the season.
For Watford, Etienne Capoue, Miguel Britos, Sebastian Prodl and Domingos Quina are all out and Craig Cathcart faces a late fitness test. Unfortunately for us, Troy Deeney returns from a three-match ban.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Willian, Higuain, Hazard
WATFORD (Possible line-up): Foster; Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue; Hughes, Pereyra; Deeney, Deulofeu
Chelsea 4-2 Watford (21 October 2017)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
- Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 home matches between the sides in league and cup since the 1985-86 season
- Chelsea are winless in three Premier League games
- Chelsea have lost just one of their 18 home league fixtures this season
- Chelsea have won only four of their 16 league matches against sides currently in the top half of the table
- Watford have lost 14 consecutive Premier League away fixtures against the established top-six sides
- Watford have conceded in 10 successive games, the longest current run without a clean sheet in the division.
- Watford have taken just one point from their past five visits to Stamford Bridge
- Watford’s home win last season is their only victory in the past 15 meetings in all competitions
BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-1 Watford
Sky Sports: Chelsea 2-1 Watford
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-2 Watford