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Chelsea 3-0 Watford: 5 Talking Points as Blues return to winning ways | EPL 2019-20 

Olivier Giroud and Ross Barkley (right) celebrate Chelsea
Olivier Giroud and Ross Barkley (right) celebrate Chelsea's win against Watford
Ishu Roy
ANALYST
Modified 05 Jul 2020, 02:52 IST
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Goals from Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley ensured Chelsea returned to winning ways against Watford, in the process also retaining their fourth place in the Premier League.

The Blues began on a nervous note in the opening 20 minutes of the game, with Watford soaking in the pressure and attempting to line up on the counter. Patient play from Chelsea carved open their opponent's defensive structure, leading to Giroud's opening goal.

Willian then doubled the lead from the spot, following which it was one-way traffic in Chelsea's favour. To place the icing on the cake, Barkley smashed home the third - his first Premier League goal since October 2018.

The West Londoners, for the first time in the division, beat Watford for the fourth consecutive game. Also for the first time this season, they managed to win three successive matches at home.

On that note, let us analyse the five major talking points from Chelsea's win over Watford.


#1: Chelsea accumulate possession with little joy early on

It was a nervous start for Chelsea.
It was a nervous start for Chelsea.

As one would expect from a Nigel Pearson setup, Watford were extremely well-drilled right from the outset.

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They forced the Blues to scuffle and push the ball into wider, tighter spaces from where they could do very little. As a result, the likes of Cesar Azpilicueta and Reece James misplaced many of their passes.

It was a frustrating start for Chelsea, who only managed to pass the ball sideways. Time and time again, they surrendered possession to an organised Watford setup.

Etienne Capoue, former Chelsea man Nathaniel Chalobah and Abdoulaye Doucoure formed a triangular structure every time the opposition wingers tried to play around and in between Watford.

Apart from one chance where Christian Pulisic slid a pass through to Giroud, the hosts couldn't create any clear-cut opportunity.


#2: Ross Barkley's intelligent midfield play leads to the opener

Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud linked up for Chelsea
Ross Barkley and Olivier Giroud linked up for Chelsea's first goal.

It was a test of Watford's resolve, with Chelsea's constant barrage down either flank keeping Pearson's side on their toes.

It was a period of exchange between the full-backs and their partnering wingers, before a sudden gap opened up outside the 18-yard box. And that's where Ross Barkley was at his devastating best.

Chelsea continued to probe until the midfielders found voids to fill between the Watford players. That passage of play, between Mason Mount, Olivier Giroud and Ross Barkley, completely split the Hornets' backline.

It was Mount who found Barkley stationed between five yellow shirts, who then excellently took the ball on the half-turn and released Giroud. The Frenchman, after having missed a similar chance earlier, waited for Craig Dawson to slide in before cutting past Ben Foster.

Barkley's tendency to occupy those little pockets of space and using his body well proved to be the difference; he was the initiator for Chelsea.


#3: Chelsea's technical ability puts Watford to bed

Olivier Giroud was presented as many as three chances in the game.
Olivier Giroud was presented as many as three chances in the game.

After Willian's well-taken penalty doubled Chelsea's lead, it was merely a training ground exercise of attack versus defence for the rest of the game.

The likes of Troy Deeney and Doucoure became the ninth and tenth defenders for their side, who just couldn't get the ball out of their own halves.

On the contrary, the Blues tried all sorts of attacks from end to end, forcing Watford to shift and commit to challenges. They played at a serious tempo, interchanging flanks and chopping inside with quick one-twos.

Watford were rocked as Chelsea made it extremely comfortable for themselves.


#4: New-look Chelsea defence ensures shut-out

Andreas Christensen put in another solid shift for Chelsea.
Andreas Christensen put in another solid shift for Chelsea.

For a team that owns the second-worst defensive record among the Premier League's top half, Chelsea would be pleased to take home a well-claimed clean sheet.

Certainly after conceding three against West Ham, Lampard was expected to tinker his backline. He switched his captain Cesar Azpilicueta to the left-hand side, drafting Reece James to the right.

The full-backs struggled to find their range early on, but joined the party with sublime, teasing crosses, with one of them resulting in a goal when Barkley switched to the left and slotted past Foster.

More importantly, the duo of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen looked far more stable at the back, as they communicated well between themselves, stuck to their man-marking duties and capped off with a few good blocks.

Chelsea may just have found their perfect defensive combination.


#5: Christian Pulisic may be just another differential to Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard is widely regarded as one of the best-ever Chelsea players.
Eden Hazard is widely regarded as one of the best-ever Chelsea players.

It's a comparison too far-fetched at present, but one wouldn't deny that Christian Pulisic is a winger close to the mould of Chelsea great Eden Hazard.

The Belgian is regarded by many as the best player to have ever donned the Blue of Chelsea, owing to his all-round abilities in the final third. One could go on about Hazard's excellence, intelligence and overall finishing.

Pulisic is surely far off in terms of achievements, but not tenacity. The American always looks goal-side, turns his body effortlessly due to his pace and low centre of gravity and is not afraid from drawing defenders to himself. Hazard would do just that, before finding the best pass for his opponents.

For the second game running, Pulisic won a penalty for Chelsea. It's no co-incidence, as he knows exactly how to attract a challenge and win fouls from situations where there is no way out.

There is a lot of work to be done on the timing of his finishing and final ball, but Christian Pulisic is the closest Chelsea will come to rediscovering an Eden Hazard.

Published 05 Jul 2020, 02:52 IST
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