Blog

Wat's the score?

We welcome our next opponents to Stamford Bridge in the knowledge that it is over 30 years since we have lost a home game to Watford.

The last time the Hornets left the Bridge with a win to their name was on the last day of the 1985/86 season, when three players were making their debut for the Blues, including an introduction to forget for 17-year-old goalkeeper Les Fridge, who suffered a torrid day as we were beaten 5-1.

However, our defence was looking a lot more solid when Watford returned in November 1986, even if we were held to a 0-0 draw, and we have never tasted a home defeat to the Hertfordshire side since.

That run stretches to 11 matches, reduced considerably by Watford’s absence from the top flight for most of the Nineties, and started with three consecutive draws in Eighties.

Things have been more one-sided recently, though, as we have won all but one of the seven matches between the two teams at the Bridge since the turn of the century, including scoring no less than 18 goals across the last five games.

Two of those came in the FA Cup third round, including a 5-0 thrashing in January 2010. Daniel Sturridge started and finished the scoring as we began our defence of the trophy in style, with strikes by Florent Malouda and Frank Lampard, plus a John Eustace own goal, coming in between.

Not bad considering injury and the Africa Cup of Nations meant we were without our two main strikers, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba, but thankfully both soon returned to help us go all the way and win the competition that year, securing our first-ever domestic Double in the process.

This will be the sixth time we have hosted Watford in the Premier League, and we are yet to lose at home to them in this competition, winning five and drawing once, an unfortunate 2-2 in 2015/16 when a Troy Deeney penalty and a Gary Cahill own goal were our undoing.

The matches have tended to be high on entertainment value, with the Blues winning 16-7 on aggregate across the six games so far, the last two fixtures both seeing us score four times on our way to victory.

Neither were straightforward wins, though. Last season, we looked in control when Pedro opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a great goal, getting the ball from a short Eden Hazard corner and smashing in off the crossbar, but Watford equalised on the stroke of half-time and then took the lead early in the second half.

However, we were far from finished and Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to head in Pedro’s cross and level the scores. Cesar Azpilicueta then put us ahead with a header of his own just three minutes before the end, and Batshuayi got a second to make it 4-2 in injury time.

The game had followed a similar pattern the previous year, although some tired Chelsea legs just three days after we had secured the Premier League title with a late goal away at West Bromwich Albion almost certainly played a part, while Asmir Begovic, Nathan Ake and Nathaniel Chalobah were all playing their last game for the Blues as Antonio Conte made nine changes to his starting line-up.

On that occasion, John Terry got the scoring started, but our lead lasted just two minutes. The match then descended into a raucous affair, as Azpilicueta and Batshuayi both scored again to put us 3-1 up, but we were then pegged back yet again, leaving things all tied with 20 minutes to go.

We had the final say, though, as another substitute, this time Cesc Fabregas, scored the winner from the edge of the box with two minutes left, giving us a 4-3 victory and equalling the Premier League record for most wins in a season.

If those previous encounters between Chelsea and Watford are anything to go by, we could be in for another thriller at Stamford Bridge, and few Blues fans would object if that also means we make it three Premier League wins in a row against the Hornets.

MORE FROM CHELSEA