Frank Lampard talks to Sky. “I’m aware of how the Premier League works, and it’s easy and casual to say what’s expected today because of the league positions. That doesn’t come into my thinking at all. I see a team that were strong last year, have pretty much similar personnel, and have a reason to get a result and get up the table. They’re a more dangerous animal where they are than possibly anywhere else in the league! So we have to be on our game. We’ve been good away from home and we want to continue that.”
Big stakes tonight at Vicarage Road, now all the 3pm matches are done and dusted. Chelsea will move into third place, above Leicester City, should they avoid defeat. Watford can only move off the bottom if they win, though if they manage to pick up their first three-point haul of the season, they’ll leapfrog Norwich City and Southampton into 18th place.
Avant-garde weather report.
Watford make one change to the XI that started the goalless draw with Bournemouth. Tom Cleverley is replaced by Andre Gray.
Chelsea also make one change to the team named for the win against Burnley. Marcos Alonso drops to the bench, to be replaced by Emerson.
Watford: Foster, Dawson, Cathcart, Kabasele, Janmaat, Doucoure, Chalobah, Masina, Deulofeu, Pereyra, Gray.
Subs: Gomes, Mariappa, Hughes, Femenia, Success, Holebas, Foulquier.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson Palmieri, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham.
Subs: Alonso, Caballero, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, James, Gilmour.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).
This is asking for trouble, of course it is. But there could be plenty of goals here this evening. Entertainment a-go-go!
You see, bottom-of-the-league Watford are a shambles right now. They’ve yet to win in the Premier League this season. They’ve already shipped three goals twice at Vicarage Road, against Brighton on the opening day and against West Ham not long after that. They were also absolutely battered by the last top and in-form team they played, shipping eight at Manchester City. Solidity is very much a pipe dream at present.
So they’ll doubtless be less than thrilled to see Chelsea heaving into view. Frank Lampard’s young side have already scored 16 goals on their travels in this campaign. Then again, that defence isn’t the finished article quite yet, and they’ve also let 11 in. The Hornets can also take succour from their recent form under returning manager Quique Sánchez Flores. Three draws in a row might not represent sparkling form, though they were four minutes and one VAR decision away from a win at Spurs, and in any case you’ve got to start the rebuild slowly.
Chelsea are favourites for this, then, not least because they’ve won five of their last six matches against Watford. The hosts will take a little heart from the one other match in that sequence – a 4-1 skelping of the Blues in February 2018 – and from the fact that a first league win of the season has to come at some point. Doesn’t it? It’s on!
Kick off: 5.30pm GMT.