The Blues quickly put our midweek cup exit behind us by recording our fifth straight Premier League win in Saturday’s late game, a result which sets a new club record of seven successive away wins in all competitions while in the top flight.
Tammy Abraham moved into double figures for the season with deadly finishing early in the game with the second goal coming soon after half-time, scored from close range by in-form Christian Pulisic.
There would have more Chelsea goals had it not been for an inspired showing by Ben Foster in the Watford goal. Instead there were some anxious minutes for Chelsea followers at the end of the game when the home side cut the lead from the penalty spot, VAR having intervened.
Frank Lampard’s men were able to successfully see out the win however, Kepa producing a crucial save right at death from his opposite number Foster, and with the three points we rise to third in the Premier League table prior tp Leicester’s Sunday game at Crystal Palace.
There was just one change to the Chelsea starting line-up from the one that had won at Burnley in our Premier League game last weekend. Lampard was able to select Emerson Palmieri at left-back again following his hamstring problem and the boss explained Marcos Alonso, who was moved to bench, had seen a lot of action recently. That included midweek against Man United.
Despite being the home team, bottom club Watford were playing five at the back. It could have been one of those games when a lot of patience and endeavour might be needed to break them down, as had been the case when we played Newcastle recently, but happily tonight the wait for an opener was short.
By his standards this season, Abraham had been going through a small lean spell as he was without a goal for four games, but it took him a mere four minutes to get back in the goal groove tonight.
It owed plenty to Jorginho, who accepting a ball inside from Mason Mount, sent it first-time forward into the penalty area and towards our centre-forward. Watford were playing with plenty of men back but they all let Abraham go and with goalkeeper Foster in no man’s land, our topscorer lifted the ball into the net with his first touch. It was a good finish.
The next chance was for Watford when a poor attempt to clear our lines led to a Roberto Pereyra shot but it was straight at Kepa.
Then with 18 minutes played, Abraham came close to a second goal when a Mason Mount shot was blocked and the rebound came his way. Foster made a good save low down and then an even better one from the corner that followed, clawing a Christian Pulisic header out from the top corner of the goal frame. Our American had sprung impressively high to meet the ball.
Watford improved after that, and some timely challenges were needed from the Chelsea defence to keep Kepa from being tested.
The closest the Hornets came to an equaliser before half-time was a low shot from Gerard Deulefou through a crowd of legs which went just wide.
Chelsea meanwhile were guilty of not making the most of some good positions going forward. The wrong decision or a loose pass was costing us a second goal and with the fight Watford were showing, it did look risky to have only a single-goal lead as this game progressed.
Just before half-time Foster, who has been a thorn in Chelsea’s side in games in the past, added to his impressive saves by finger-tipping an absolute thunderbolt from Mount onto the crossbar.
At the start of the second half, Kurt Zouma threw his big frame in the way of an Andre Gray shot, admirable defending, before Foster denied Mount again after the young midfielder had once more struck his shot sweetly.
With 10 minutes of the second period gone, the second goal came and this time we took the Watford keeper out of the equation with a clinical move. Willian sprayed a pass wide to Abraham out on the right and this time our no.9 turned provider, centring low and hard to Pulisic inside the six-yard box who hammered in his fourth goal in two league games.
At 2-0 up, it was Pulisic’s turn to have a goalbound strike kept out by Foster after he had danced through the Watford defence, and then Abraham almost found a way through. The home side were now rocking.
Another Tammy attempt went for a corner, a chance that would not have materialised had it not been for marvellous endeavour by Pulisic to turn what would have been a Watford corner into a throw earlier in the play.
The Hornets gained a foot-hold back in the game with 10 minutes to go when Deulofeu scored a penalty awarded by VAR for a trip by Jorginho on the Watford scorer. Lampard later said he did not believe there had been a clear and obvious mistake in the original decision not to give it.
That set up a tense finish with Chelsea forced to defend deep. Watford were denied shots on target until the fifth and final minute of added time when they were awarded a free-kick. It was headed on twice, the second time by Foster who had gone up for it and there was Kepa, flinging himself to the foot of his post to keep it out. That was the end of the game. The Spaniard’s save was celebrated as if it was a goal! There was a show of mutual appreciation between the goalies.
Just prior to the end Jorginho picked up a booking that means he is suspended for next weekend’s home game against Palace.
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Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Willian (James 90+4), Abraham (Batshuayi 88), Pulisic (Hudson-Odoi 83).
Unused subs Caballero, Alonso, Gilmour, Giroud.
Scorers Abraham 5, Pulisic 55
Booked Jorginho 89, Mount 90+4
Watford (5-4-1): Foster; Janmaat (Femenia 75), Kabasele, Dawson, Cathcart (c) (Mariappa 20), Masina; Deulofeu, Chalobah (Hughes 67), Doucoure, Pereyra; Gray.
Unused subs Gomes, Success, Holebas, Foulquier.
Scorer Deulofeu 80 pen
Booked Kabasele 46, Janmaat 69, Dawson 82, Mariappa 88
Referee Anthony Taylor