Chelsea 3-0 Watford: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Dominant Blues Climb Into Third

Chelsea moved into third in the Premier League table as they picked up a comfortable 3-0 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Watford began brightly, pressing Chelsea high, and would have taken the lead after just seven minutes had it not been for Kepa Arrizabalaga's stunning save to deny Troy Deeney. The Blues grew into the game, but struggled to create any real chances of note, and the game remained goalless heading into the break.

However, whatever Maurizio Sarri said to his team at half-time certainly worked, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz both headed past Ben Foster inside six second-half minutes to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead out of nothing. The goals gave the Blues new life, and they dominated proceedings for the remainder of the game.

They grabbed a third with 15 minutes to go as Gonzalo Higuain showed his composure to chip the ball over the onrushing Foster. Watford had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, but Isaac Success's header was ruled out after it hit off the offside Andre Gray on its way into the back of the net, summing up what was a frustrating day for the Hornets.

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


CHELSEA

Key Talking Point

After a lacklustre first half, it seemed like the Chelsea players figured out they needed a win to keep up their top-four aspirations. They emerged from the break as a changed side, and they now look a certainty for Champions League qualification.

The mood around Stamford Bridge has been toxic at times this season, yet they are now third in the league table, behind only Manchester City and Liverpool. Their destiny is in their own hands, and it certainly takes the pressure off of their Europa League journey. Chelsea certainly want to win that competition, but it seems like Champions League qualification will come regardless.

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Whether this has been a successful season for Chelsea is another question entirely, but the minimum expectation of Sarri's first season was a top-four finish. That's not guaranteed just yet, but it seems like the Blues have done enough.

Player Ratings


Starting XI:​ Arrizabalaga (7); Azpilicueta (6), Christensen (6), Luiz (7), Alonso (6); Kante (N/A), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (6); Pedro (7), Higuain (7), Hazard (7).

Substitutes: Loftus-Cheek (8*), Giroud (5), Cahill (N/A).

STAR MAN - Ruben Loftus-Cheek


How ​Loftus-Cheek is not a permanent fixture of Chelsea's starting lineup is astonishing. The England international began the game on the bench, but was introduced after a matter of minutes following an injury to ​N'Golo Kante. Once again, he proved exactly why he should be a starter.

Picking the ball up from deep, Loftus-Cheek constantly looked to use his pace and power to carry the ball forward, and he did so superbly. He offered Chelsea a midfield threat which has not been seen since Frank Lampard's time at the club, and Sarri has to have taken notice of his impact.

His goal was a fair reward for an impressive showing, heading past Foster to keep his side on top in the race for Champions League football. He's a stunning talent, and Sarri might have realised that now.


WATFORD

Key Talking Point

With seventh place now out of their reach, you would have forgiven Watford for taking a break in their remaining league fixtures, with one eye on the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester City. However, that certainly was not the case.

The Hornets began the game superbly, pressing high and forcing errors from a panicked Chelsea defence. It is that exact tactic which has created problems for City this season, so perhaps Javi Gracia viewed this game as a good practice session for his team.

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The result will be disappointing, but Watford should be proud of their first-half performance. They proved they can press and cause problems for defenders, but they just couldn't keep it up for the full 90 minutes. 3-0 was harsh, but that's football for you.

Player Ratings



Starting XI: Foster (6); Femenia (7), Mariappa (6), Cathcart (6), Holebas (6); Hughes (6), Chalobah (7), Doucoure (7), Pereyra (6); Deulofeu (7), Deeney (7).

Substitutes: Cleverley (6), Gray (6), Success (6).

STAR MAN - Gerard Deulofeu


The strike partnership of Gerard Deulofeu and ​Troy Deeney caused countless problems for Chelsea, but it was the former who just edged the vote here. Deulofeu was as lively as ever, and his speed was a vital part of Watford's tactics in the first half.

When he was on the ball, he always looked to run at his man, confident that his dribbling abilities would be good enough to help his cause. He had some good shots on goal, but his contribution in the final third just left something to be desired.

The Spaniard was his side's greatest threat throughout the game and, on another day, he may have found himself on the score sheet.


Looking Ahead


Chelsea have Thursday's second leg of their Europa League semi-final with Eintracht Frankfurt to look forward to​, before continuing their push for the top four against ​Brighton and Hove Albion.

As for Watford, they will end the season against ​West Ham United, but all sights will be on the FA Cup final with Manchester City.

Source : 90min

Source: 90min