Saturday, May 25, 2024

Watford 4-1 Chelsea: Hornets thump champions as Javi Gracia earns first win

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Javi Gracia earned a memorable first Premier League win as Watford tore Chelsea apart on Monday evening at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets put in an inspirational showing in their new manager’s first home game in charge and they deservedly took the lead through a Troy Deeney penalty after Chelsea had been reduced to ten men following Tiémoué Bakayoko’s red card. Eden Hazard equalised for the Blues with an excellent solo strike late in the second half. 

However, late goals from Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra turned the tide against the Blues and heaped pressure on Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge.

Frantic start at Vicarage Road

Watford top goalscorer Abdoulaye Doucoure was presented with an early chance as the Hornets started the game in excellent fashion but his shot just squirmed wide of the post. Home debutant Gerard Deulofeu also find space in the box but could only blast the ball into the side-netting.

Chances continued to flow for the hosts and Troy Deeney found space at the back post from a corner but could not make a telling contact and the ball drifted wide.

Chelsea struggled to get to grips with the game throughout the first half and their only chance occured as the ball fell to Willian in the penalty area. The Brazilian’s shot flew over the bar however.

Bakayoko sees red

The Hornets were brilliant in the opening stages and could have led following poor play from Chelsea. The ball was gifted to Richarlison but an excellent block from Gary Cahill halted his powerful, goal-bound shot.

Chelsea’s evening got increasingly more difficult as Tiémoué Bakayoko picked up two yellow cards within a five minute period. Two poor challenges saw the Frenchman pick up his marching orders and the champions reduced to ten men.

Deulofeu down to win spot-kick

The match then took an even worse turn for Antonio Conte’s troops as an excellent ball from Daryl Janmaat put Deulofeu through into the penalty area. Thibaut Courtois sprinted out in an effort to halt the Spaniard but only proved to scythe down the former Barcelona man.

Mike Dean pointed to the spot with Troy Deeney stepping up. The English forward then struck into the bottom corner to earn a deserved lead for the hosts going into half-time.

Watford continue to sting

The hosts continued in their fine form after the break and twice had chances to stretch their advantage. Both Deulofeu and Richarlison saw low shots just skid wide of the post from just outside the penalty area.

In an effort to make any sort of impact on the game, Chelsea introduced former Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud for his Blues’ debut in the place of the injured Pedro.

Courtois though still had to be alive as a storming run from Doucoure saw him find space and unleash a powerful shot. The goalkeeper though deflected away well.

Late drama in Hertfordshire

It took until the final ten minutes for the Blues to really carve out any meaningful opening. Good combination play saw Fàbregas find space in the penalty area but he could only hit his low shot straight at Orestis Karnezis.

The champions equalised only minutes later and it was through the inspirational Eden Hazard. Picking the ball up in midfield, the Belgian jinked through the Watford defence and struck an excellent curling effort that bent into the bottom corner of the net.

Watford waltz away

Chelsea were not level for long however and it was the unlikely Janmaat who found the net. Cutting in from the right and playing a quick one-two with substitute Roberto Pereyra, the Dutch defender found himself one-on-one. He then coolly slotted the ball behind Courtois to snatch the lead back for Watford.

Deulofeu got in on the act in the final minutes as he also found space on the wing. The Spaniard then showed excellent composure to just roll the ball into the bottom corner. Former Juventus man Pereyra was not to be outdone however and it was him who rounded off the scoring at Vicarage Road. Being played through by Doucoure, the Argentine took his time and hammered the ball past Courtois to secure a thumping victory over the champions.

Final Thoughts

Whilst most of the focus will be on how disappointing Chelsea were against Watford, the Hornets deserve the upmost praise. Javi Gracia’s men constantly hassled their visitors and were by far the better side throughout the 90 minutes.

Chelsea’s defending was poor but Watford were ruthless and have not given themselves a fantastic chance of survival. The pressure though continues to grow at Stamford Bridge and Antonio Conte’s days are surely numbered following their terrible showing.

Match Report

Watford: Karnezis (6); Holebas (6), Prödl (7), Mariappa (6); Zeegelaar (6), Doucoure (7), Capoue (6), Janmaat (8); Deulofeu (8) (Carrillo (N/A), 89′), Richarlison (7) (Pereyra (7), 65′); Deeney (7) (Gray (N/A), 90+3′).

Chelsea: Courtois (5); Azpilicueta (6), Luiz (5), Cahill (5); Moses (5), Kanté (5), Bakayoko (4), Zappacosta (5); Willian (5) (Fàbregas (5), 35′), Pedro (6) (Giroud (5), 64′); Hazard (6).

Goals: Deeney PEN (42′), Hazard (82′), Janmaat (84′), Deulofeu (88′), Pererya (90+1′)

Referee: Mike Dean

Yellow Cards: Bakayoko (25′ ,30′), Richarlison (45′), Prödl (51′), Fàbregas  (62′)

Red Cards: Bakayoko (30′)




Daniel Orme

Daniel is a football journalism graduate from the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately six years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.



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