Another week and another preview and we have seen a trend setting into this Watford club. Injuries! Now many a more optimistic supporter would have said clean sheets and a defense that has secured two clean sheets, conceding just a goal in the last three games. Maybe the pessimist in me knows that Watford still has important issues to sort out or it’s going to be relegation.
I’ll give credit where it’s due to Quique Sanchez Flores, while it pains me to say that he’s come in to a team that was low in confidence, their performances on the pitch were a hint of what we saw last season and turned around the defense, in an attempt to remain in the Premier League. It’s going to be a very big ask, as we start GW11 and a young Chelsea team that is very hungry and playing some excellent football.
Sanchez Flores continues to look forward and talk about “the future” at Watford, “I know they deserve to win in this period but football is really capricious sometimes so you need to wait. At the moment we are creating something that is solid for the future.” That future might be in the Championship League if the Golden Boys cannot find shake their lackluster performance at the attacking end of the pitch. Midweek in the EFL Cup game at Goodison, Watford had just one shot on target! QSF makes us believe there isn’t a worry in the attack, “At the moment we are creating, it’s okay. At the moment we stop creating attempts we should be worried.”
Since starting his second stint as the Watford boss, the Hornets have scored just three goals, worst in the Premier League. In defense of Sanchez Flores, Watford have created 72 chances, 26 shots, on target. Both statistics are mid-table but that equals just a 4.2% goal conversion.
Injuries plagued us a few years ago when we couldn’t keep a defender healthy and we struggled in the bottom of the table. Last year, the walking wounded were minimized during Javi’s reign, but this season the Hornets continued to be battered by injuries in the midfield and forward. Currently, seven players out, injured, three long term.
Ahead of Chelsea, Watford will be without their captain, Troy Deeney (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle) and Domingos Quina (groin). Issac Success (groin) and Etienne Capoue (back) could face late fitness tests, but I am not expecting either to play. Midfielders, Tom Cleverley (heel) and Ismaila Sarr (leg) are currently being assessed but won’t be available.
Those midfield injuries leave Watford very thin in the midfield. Quina had a chance to shine in the EFL Cup but came off injuried. Nathaniel Chalobah has been thrust into the midfield, but he’s looked very timid in challenges, as he’s taken up a deeper, defensive role, allowing Abdoulaye Doucoure to push forward in attack. Will Hughes could still be a key player for the Hornets, as he’s been moved inside, as Sanchez Flores as instilled a 5-3-2 formation, allowing his wing backs to push up the flanks, when Watford attacks.
This weekend, it will be another game of conceding 60-70% of possession to the Blues. This fixture has been high scoring historically, as the last five games have posted 25 goals, as Watford has just one win, a 4-1 victory in 2018. Chelsea have won their last four games scoring 11 goals, second best over that period, as their defense has conceded just three goals. The take away, Southampton scored one and Burnley hit them for two goals. Watford could have a glimmer of hope going forward.
The problem up top, we have no attacking player high on confidence. I mentioned last week that Doucoure’s first minute miss last weekend epitomized the Golden Boys effort last week. Jose Holebas returns from suspension, which means we could see more crosses. Daryl Janmaat has been one of our best defenders this season. Even with their chances created, we haven’t had many opportunities from inside the box to score.
Looking back the last few weeks, this game appears to be one-way traffic at Vicarage Road this weekend. I don’t see Chelsea putting in a diminished performance, which means it will be another long and frustrating 90-minutes for Watford fans as it will be attack, attack, attack for the Blues.
Final analysis, Watford will sit back and take the pounding from a Chelsea team that have 69 chances in their 4-game win streak, creating 31 shots on target and capitalizing on 15 big chances taken. Final score Watford 0 – 2 Chelsea.
No assets should be on your starting XI or under consideration.