EPL: Chelsea edge past Watford 2-1 to stay on top of the table

Mason Mount broke the deadlock on 29 minutes before Watford equalized through Emmanuel Dennis and then Hakim Ziyech scored the winner for Chelsea on 72 minutes.

Chelsea beat Watford 2-1 in the Premier League fixture on Wednesday; Credit: Twitter/@premierleague

Chelsea edged past Watford 2-1 in the Premier League fixture at Vicarage Road on Wednesday to stay at the top of the points table. Mason Mount broke the deadlock for Chelsea before the half-hour mark. But the visitors equalized towards the end of the first half  through Emmanuel Dennis. Although Watford looked like the better team, substitute Hakim Ziyech  scored the winner for the Blues to take all three points. Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel had made six changes to the side which played out a 1-1 draw against Manchester United in the weekend.

Claudio Ranieri’s Watford clearly dominated the early stages of the game. Within two minutes of kick-off, Tom Cleverley’s low cross from the right flank found Joao Pedro inside the box. But the Brazilian’s goal bound shot was cleared by defender Trevoh Chalobah.

Few minutes later, Pedro was once again involved as his attempt from right-back Kiko Femenia’s cross was saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Just when it looked like the home side were growing in confidence, on 13 minutes, referee David Coote brought both sets of players off the pitch after being alerted to a medical emergency in the Graham Taylor stand.

The game was halted for 30 minutes and then the play resumed after five-minutes of warm-up. However, after the restart, Watford seemed to have lost the momentum and Chelsea got ever so close to scoring with their first real attack of the game on 17 minutes. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s header released Mount on the right side of the penalty area. But the English midfielder’s first time volley from an acute angle struck the post. 

On 29 minutes, Rudiger’s floated ball was expertly controlled by Alonso on the left side. The Spanish full-back’s cut back found Kai Havertz inside the box, who laid the ball to Mount to score his first Premier League away goal since March. Despite going behind, the hosts were causing all sorts of problems to the Chelsea defence. Cleverley’s cross was laid on to Danny Rose at the far post by Pedro, but the full-back’s low drive was saved by Mendy.

Dennis equalized but Ziyech scored the winner

Two minutes before break, Watford equalized. Moussa Sissoko stole the ball from Loftus Cheek in the midfield and released Dennis, who struck low towards the bottom corner, the ball helped into the net via a slight deflection off Rudiger. It was the Nigerian footballer’s sixth Premier League goal. In the first half added time, Dennis’ through ball found Sissoko inside the box but the Frenchman’s attempt was comfortably saved by Mendy.

Tuchel brought in Thiago Silva in place of Saul Niguez on the break, to shore things at the back as Watford were able to get behind the defence quite often. Although Watford continued to play some positive football, the visitors took the lead in the 72nd minute. Alonso’s header found Mount on the left flank, who’s cut back was fired in by Ziyech from 12 yards.

Nine minutes from time, Havertz’s floated ball found the head of Ziyech inside the box, but Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann was in a good position to collect the ball comfortably. Just before the final whistle, Juraj Kucka tested Mendy with a powerfully struck free-kick.

Tuchel said after the match “It was very sloppy, but it was very unusual from us. I had the feeling we were not ready. I am involved in that, I have to get the team ready and obviously I didn’t prepare them for what was coming. We did not cope well with the first balls, the pressure, the second balls.

“It’s one thing to win or lose challenges, but we did not even find them. We had the chance to speak about it in the break, and then we had the chance to speak about it in half-time. We tried to give easy messages, because it was obvious we struggled.

“I think we can admit today we were lucky to win this game. It was a very unusual performance for us, and I will not focus on this match for long.”

Sportslumo Desk

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