The Blues end the season as we started it, with a home win in the sun. Kai Havertz scored his 14th goal of the season with substitute Ross Barkley netting a late winner on his 100th appearance for the club.
The German opened the scoring early on and although he would end the first half by hitting the woodwork, the Blues had just the single strike to show for our efforts approaching the final minutes, as relegated Watford put in a spirited showing in the second half.Edou Mendy had been called upon to keep the Hornets out with a sharp stop but he could do nothing to prevent a late Dan Gosling header going in and it looked like this match was going the way of other home outings this season with points squandered, but happily Barkley was in the right place to head home a Reece James cross in the 92nd minute to ensure 2021/22 ends on the right note.The win, which ensures we finish on 74 points, gives us our best tally since winning the Premier League in 2016/17. It also makes it six straight Chelsea league victories against Watford for the first time in our history.
There were five changes from the home draw against Leicester on Thursday. Two of those came in attack with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount in for Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic. Saul and Kenedy were given starts on the left of the midfield and at the back, the skipper returned – Cesar Azpilicueta replacing Trevoh Chalobah.
Prior to kick-off, Thomas Tuchel explained players had been rewarded with places for the support they had given during the campaign as a whole. He also gave a place on the bench to Ben Chilwell after his six-month absence. At the end of the game there was the pleasing sight of Chilwell brought on for the closing moments.
With the Blues already assured of third place before kick-off due to our strong goal difference, this game was all about putting on entertainment for the fans enjoying the early summer at Stamford Bridge or able to watch on screen from afar, and the team created chances and delivered a goal without making them wait too long.In the fifth minute, Mason Mount looked to add to his assists tally for the season with a ball over the top that caught the Watford defence napping, but Havertz hit the goalkeeper with his shot.Saul had a shot deflected wide in amongst plenty of early goalmouth action and it was no surprise to see the lead come with 11 minutes on the clock – Havertz able to convert from close range having been played onside by a static Hornets back-line. With Chelsea having switched play from right to left, the ball into the German to score had come from Kenedy, who five seasons ago had an unproductive loan spell at Watford.
The goal was the 100th scored in the league under the management of Thomas Tuchel and it was close to being added to when Saul shot just wide from the edge of the area, after a Havertz lay-off.Mount nodded wide at the far post before Watford came back into the game for a spell. Mendy had to save a firm shot from Kiko Femenia. That was the one time our opponents properly threatened before the break.However Roy Hodgson’s side were not committing many men forward, despite being behind and their relegation already confirmed, ensuring the Blues needed some craft to create chances.
Mount had a shot saved by Daniel Bachmann and Havertz was working hard but was crowded out when given the chance of a run on goal by a Mount pass.Shortly before half-time the England international had his own chance to shoot but that was blocked so instead, the closest we came to a goal since the opener came with the final kick of the half. It was Havertz, found by Kenedy again, but although he did well to get a shot away under pressure and from a tight angle, it hit the crossbar.
The start to the second half was not good from a Blues perspective. Saul was dispossessed in the middle of the park and when an eventual shot was struck low by Joao Pedro, Mendy was called upon to make a very good save.The Hornets had other attacks too, and we were grateful that a mix up at the back only led to Thiago Silva keeping the ball out of an unguarded net rather than an own goal.Malang Sarr was introduced and then Barkley to replace the departing Toni Rudiger who came off to plenty of applause to thank him for his impressive contribution to our successes since 2017.Ziyech had almost caught out Bachmann, in the Watford goal today instead of injured Ben Foster, when he aimed a shot towards the near post when he shaped to go for the far side, but the wait went on for a more comfortable lead.
Barkley almost achieved that with the best-hit strike of the afternoon from 25 yards out which Bachmann tipped over at full stretch but then came the shock of the Watford equaliser. A cross from the left was allowed all way through our defence for Gosling to plant a header into our net, but thankfully there was still time for James up the other end to send in a cross of his own.Bachmann got a hand to Barkley’s close-range header but the ball still bounced in to decide the game in front of a happy Matthew Harding End.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger (Barkley 65); James, Kante, Saul, Kenedy (Sarr 59); Ziyech, Havertz, Mount (Chilwell 90).Unused subs Kepa, Chalobah, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Pulisic, Lukaku.Scorers Havertz 11, Barkley 90+1
Watford (4-5-1): Bachmann; Femenia, Kabasele, Samir, Kamara (Masina 77); King (Hernandez 72), Sissoko (c), Kayembe (Gosling 82), Cleverley, Sema; Joao Pedro.Unused subs Elliot, Ngakia, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Sierralta, Baah.Scorer Gosling 87
Referee Mike DeanCrowd 32,089