Chelsea 2-2 Watford Match Report – 26th December 2015

A brace from Diego Costa wasn’t enough to give Guus Hiddink a winning return to Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard put the Blues in front, and then hit an equaliser after Watford had got themselves into the lead. Troy Deeney scored from the penalty spot, before Odion Ighalho had put the Hornets ahead. This now leaves the Blues seven points shy of the top half of the Premier League table.

Guus Hiddink made a few bold changes in his first starting 11. There was no place for Eden Hazard, who was left on the bench. It seems like some at the club still aren’t happy with his display at Leicester. There was no starting place for Kurt Zouma, who was first choice defender under Jose Mourinho. Cesc Fabregas took up a place in midfield alongside Nemanja Matic.

Things started pretty well for the Blues, with Diego Costa looking much more like the striker of last season. He seemed to have recovered a bit of lost confidence, and he was pushing around Watford defenders early on. It was Costa who made the breakthrough after just half an hour, scoring just his fourth league goal of the season.

Not long after that, all the early hard work was wasted. A Watford corner was swung in and Matic handled the ball. It seemed like he was struggling to see through his mask, but there was no question that it was a penalty. Deeney stepped up and converted, and the two sides headed in to the half time break level pegging.

The second half start was a little more sluggish, and the Blues were toiling as Watford grew in confidence. They came in to this game on the back of four consecutive wins, and there was a genuine belief in their side that this could be a fifth. The Hornets were pushing forward and troubling Chelsea, and then they eventually found a second goal. Ighalo’s deflected shot brought the mood in Stamford Bridge right back down. New manager, same problems.

Another home defeat was unthinkable here, and the Pensioners began pushing for an equaliser. The much needed moment of spark came as Willian angled a fantastic ball through for Costa, and he timed his run perfectly, before firing in a second goal. They were back level, and they had 25 minutes to go in search of a winner.

That winner was sitting on a plate with 10 minutes to go, as substitute Eden Hazard was brought down by Valon Behrami, and the Blues were awarded a penalty. Oscar stepped up instead of Hazard, but it might be the last one he takes. The Brazilian slipped in his run up, and saw the ball fly over the bar and in to the crowd.

That scuppered Hiddink’s hopes of a winning start, but he has the chance to turn things around away to an out of form Manchester United next.

LCN Verdict: Diego Costa