Last time out was the first game with Javi Gracia in charge, after that snake, Marco Silva ran the club into the ground with charges of illegal advance from Everton. It was a great day to remember, as Watford put four goals past Chelsea in a 4-1 win. What would our luck be like this season as Chelsea paid a visit to Vicarage Road.
Watford came into the game 7th in the league table, on the back of two wins that were much needed after a 12-week period that saw just two wins and 9 points. The Hornets had scored five goals coming into the Boxing Day fixture and had been playing very well, which has been a trademark on this Gracia led squad. A far cry from what supporters had to deal with last year under the Silva regime.
The game was off to a quick start, just minutes into the game, Christian Kabasele, getting back to defender a lazy shot from Willian, collided with the goal post, causing an extended stoppage. Taken off the pitch to the hospital, Kabasele tweeted this morning, “Hopefully nothing broken but still have big pain. Journeyman, Adrian Mariappa took over center back duties.
Watford looked sharp cheating chances, their best coming on 31′ when Roberto Peyera cutback and found Abdoulaye Doucoure at the top of the box, sending a shot high and wide. Watford appeared on the back foot late into the first half, as Eden Hazard was key to Chelsea going forward. He crossed the center line, feeding Pedro down the right flank, Etienne Capoue in chase. As they hit the 18-yard box, Capoue dove in, knocking the ball from Pedro to save a chance on target.
Moments before Hazard netted to give the Blues a 1-0 lead, he missed a sitter inside the 6-yard box off a corner, but the Belgium redeemed himself, as Watford gave the ball away on 45 minutes Matteo Kovacic, fed a ball forward to Hazard, sat Ben Foster down, went around him and tapped home the goal, as Chelsea appeared to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Watford would respond minutes later off a training ground moment. A short corner taken by Gerard Delofeu, played to Jose Holebas with a beautiful cross was volleyed home by Pereyra to draw level second before injury time expired.
After the game, Gracia said, “We know it’s difficult playing against Chelsea because they are a very good team and have a very good squad. We knew it would be difficult to get a good result but I think we’ve tried. Maybe in the moment when we were playing better, in my opinion, in the second half, playing more time in the opposition half, it was when we conceded the second goal. But I’m proud of the effort of my players and we’ll try to do better to get a better result in the next game.”
It appeared Watford would come out on the proper end of a David Luiz push in the Chelsea box, as Deulofeu went to ground, but the play waved on by referee, Martin Atkinson. Lots of shoulder to shoulder contact, but there was the appearance of Luiz leaning into Deulofeu causing him to lose his balance.
Watford mistakes led to both goals on the day, as a ball over the top was played into Hazard, as Foster came out, took the Chelsea man down in the box, resulting in a penalty, which he converted to put the Blues up, 2-1. “The first goal was after missing a lateral pass again and I know it’s not easy because in that moment we were defending and after running a lot maybe you don’t find the pass quickly, but these teams recover the ball because after losing they have a good reaction,” said Gracia.
Watford had opportunities to draw level, but as has been the season, we came up just short again. Had a few calls gone our way, we could have seen a draw against Chelsea, as it was, it was a tough loss. Gracia finished with, “if you take the chances you have maybe you have the option to take points against these teams.”
Coming up, it’s an important run for the Hornets, as their fixtures turn favorable through the end of February, as the Spurs are the only top six team they will face in game week 24. Next up, a visit from Newcastle, who dealt Watford a tough 1-0 at St. James in early November that the Hornets drop four out of five games.