Chelsea head to Watford on Monday night as they look to recover from their mauling at home to Bournemouth. While the transfer deadline didn’t exactly go to plan for Antonio Conte and his side, their loss to the Cherries was an even bigger disaster, which has put their Champions League hopes at risk. The Blues need to be finishing in the top four as the minimum achievement this season, but now they have Tottenham and even Arsenal bearing down as the Blues toil just inside the top four. Can they turn things around at Vicarage Road?
The pressure on Antonio Conte has only grown more intense after that 3-0 loss, and it seems like his off field complaints are transferring across to the team. While Conte is showing little concern over his place in the Stamford Bridge dugout next season, he can’t depart the club having left them right back where he started – outside of the Champions League. This title defence is nowhere near as disastrous as the last, but the crisis club tag hasn’t deserted Chelsea for much of the campaign. Another loss on Monday night, and those claims will only grow.
Team News: Will Conte Hand Giroud a Quick Debut?
Chelsea are expected to go into this game without Alvaro Morata once again, with the forward still side-lined. That should lead to a first start for new signing Olivier Giroud, who has taken up Michy Batshuayi’s role as understudy to the club’s record signing. However, the Frenchman showed his reliability over the years at Arsenal, and he could well emerge as a first choice if he hits the ground running. We don’t expect starts from the other January signings – Ross Barkley and Emerson Palmieri. The pair need to get back to fitness, as the former Everton man showed in the Bournemouth defeat. Despite the nature of that loss, we can’t see too many other changes for Conte to make this week.
While Watford blamed their collapse in form on Marco Silva, they come into this game with a lengthy injury list. Among them is former Blue Nathaniel Chalobah, while Craig Cathcart and Younes Kaboul miss out in defence. The Hornets are expected to have as many as seven players absent for this game, which obviously affects their chances. That’s bound to have played a big part in their collapse in form, and we expect the hosts to find things tough once again.
The Hornets have recently switched manager, sacking Marco Silva following a dismal run of results. His admiring glances to Everton earned him no favours from the Watford board, who quickly turned on him when relegation became a concern. It’s not hard to see why, as the hosts have been in awful form of late. They have just two wins since the tail end of November, a run spanning 14 matches, and one of those was against Championship opposition.
The hosts have won one of their previous 12 in the top flight, while they have one win in their last six at home. They do have a habit of falling apart around this stage every season, but they should get enough points in the final stages of the campaign to survive. However, that aim is quite a step down over what they were hoping for when Silva had them flying. Can new boss Javi Gracia manage to restore some hope to the Watford faithful with a victory over the champions in his first home game?
Watford v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea have a solid record against the Hornets, barring the season after the previous title win. Of course, that campaign brought plenty of poor displays against average sides, and the Blues drew home and away to the then newly promoted side. Things have looked up for them recently, and Conte has a 100% record against the Hornets since taking charge, despite a couple of close calls.
- Chelsea 4-2 Watford, Oct 2017
- Chelsea 4-3 Watford, May 2017
- Watford 1-2 Chelsea, Aug 2016
- Watford 0-0 Chelsea, Feb 2016
- Chelsea 2-2 Watford, Dec 2015
- Both Teams to Score – 19/20 with Betfair
- Chelsea and Over 2.5 Goals – 6/4 with Coral
Chelsea head to Vicarage Road as favourites; they’re priced up at 4/7 with BetVictor to come away with the points on Monday night. The Hornets can be backed at 5/1 with Betfred to pull off a victory and turn their form around, while the draw is priced at 29/10 with Ladbrokes here. The Blues aren’t too badly priced for the win in this clash, but we think we’ve found a couple of bigger priced predictions ahead of the final game of the Premier League weekend.
While Watford don’t have a huge amount going for them in terms of form, they do have an impressive attacking record backing them up going in to this clash. They’ve found the net in seven straight home games, the only issue is that they’ve conceded in their previous six. The hosts have conceded 2.08 goals per game at home this term, so Chelsea shouldn’t worry too much about scoring, it seems like a perfect place for Giroud to make an impact. Given that the hosts have scored in 75% of their home games, and in four of their last five meetings with the Blues, we’re backing both teams to score at 19/20 with Betfair.
We expect a high scoring game, especially given that the Blues have won four of the last six encounters – with over 2.5 goals scored in each of those victories. Watford have seen over 2.5 in 67% of their home matches, while it has also landed in 67% of Chelsea’s away trips this term. We expect the Blues to take advantage of Watford’s awful form, but we should see goals in the process. An away win and over 2.5 goals is out second tip here, which is priced at 6/4 with Coral.