A second half rally from Chelsea helped them to overcome a resilient Watford side and secure a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup. After a poor showing for almost an hour, the Blues finally clicked into gear and goals from Willian, Loic Remy and Kurt Zouma gave them a comfortable-looking win in the end against the Championship side.
As expected, Jose Mourinho made a number of changes to his starting line up ahead of this game, giving quite a few players a rest after the busy festive period. There weren’t any academy players included in the team, with squad players getting a run out instead. Didier Drogba started up front and captained the side, Petr Cech came in for Thibaut Courtois and Ramires replaced Cesc Fabregas, among other changes.
Changes were certainly needed after the league defeat to Spurs last week. The problem here for the Blues was that without the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas going forward, they struggled to break down a Watford side who came to do little more than defend. At times it was like the games in which Chelsea struggled last season, where they just couldn’t find a way through a determined defence.
That was the case in the first half, in which there were few moments of real interest, barring a couple of half chances with came to nothing. At half time Mourinho decided to bring the big guns off the bench, replacing Andre Schurrle and Oscar with Willian and Costa. Once again, Schurrle looked lost, far from the player he was in the early stages of the season following his World Cup success.
The game livened up quite a bit after those changes, and it meant Chelsea had all three of their strikers on the field, with Drobga playing from the right, Remy from the left and Costa through the middle. With those three and Willian probing, you’d have thought it was just a matter of time before the breakthrough came.
The Blues were patient, and finally they went ahead through a stunning goal from Willian. The Brazilian got free at the edge of the box, and he turned, glanced up and curled a shot into the top right hand corner, finally breaking the Hornet’s resistance. After that goal went in, the visitors were deflated, and it was simply a case of taking advantage of that fact.
Some great play from Costa saw him get in on goal, but after his shot was blocked, the ball fell for Remy, who sent a great volley into the same corner as Willian’s effort. The Watford defence just looked to be overloaded at this point, as they struggled to deal with the Chelsea attacks.
The hosts sealed the win two minutes later, when man of the match Kurt Zouma scored a deserved goal to wrap things up. The Frenchman headed in from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross to get his second Chelsea goal, on a day on which he looked fantastic in the heart of the Blues defence.
LCN Man of the Match: Kurt Zouma