The Blues took the lead in the 5th minute through Tammy Abraham, and then doubled it early in the second half when Abraham’s cross found the in-form Christian Pulisic for a tap-in. It looked like Frank Lampard’s side would cruise to victory, but a VAR-awarded penalty from Gerard Deulofeu in the 80th minute gave Watford a lifeline.
Quique Sanchez Flores’ side almost leveled with the last kick of the game when goalkeeper Ben Foster met a corner. But Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a dramatic save to hand Chelsea all three points and send them into 3rd place in the league table.
Here are 5 talking points from the game.
#1 VAR makes another questionable call
A Watford comeback in this game looked as unlikely as a chant for Sarri-ball from Chelsea’s fans. But somehow the Hornets were handed an opportunity to snatch a point after scoring a VAR-awarded penalty in the 80th minute.
To say this was a questionable decision, however, would be an understatement.
There did appear to be some contact – albeit absolutely minimal – when Jorginho’s foot touched Gerard Deulofeu inside Chelsea’s penalty box. But the Spaniard launched himself to the ground like he’d been shot out of a cannon, clearly exaggerating how much contact there had been.
Referee Anthony Taylor was not convinced and waved away Deulofeu’s penalty claims, only for VAR to over-rule the decision and award the spot-kick.
The whole situation had the feel of a farce, particularly as each replay shown – and there were plenty of them as the officials at Stockley Park clearly needed convincing – only appeared to strengthen the idea that Deulofeu had made a meal of any contact.
VAR has caused plenty of controversy already this season, and while this didn’t impact the result of the game in the end, it was certainly noteworthy. The Premier League apparently doesn’t want the in-game officials checking a pitch-side monitor as they fear it’ll slow down the game, but today’s decision took seemingly forever anyway - bringing the whole system into question yet again.