Chelsea bounced back from their humbling defeat to West Ham by emphatically beating relegation-threatened Watford at Stamford Bridge.
In a game already billed as ‘must-win’ following results earlier in the day, Chelsea quickly set about trying to break down Watford’s backline.
The pace and guile of Christian Pulisic was complimented by Mason Mount’s short, sharp interchanges and the pair struck up a productive relationship down the left-hand side. The opening goal, however, came from the left boot of Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman combined with Ross Barkley to find the far corner of the net via a nick off the post. With the deadlock broken, Chelsea soon found their rhythm and when Pulisic was inexplicably taken out by Etienne Capoue, it was Willian who once again found the net from the penalty spot.
The game was all but decided by the time the two sides re-emerged for the second half, with Nigel Pearson’s men having resorted to a policy of damage limitation. But yet there was still time for Barkley to finish off Cesar Azpilicueta’s cut-back. The perfect reward for a dominant display both personally and collectively.
Here’s how we rated the Chelsea players after the game.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 6
Was called upon just once, but in getting a strong hand to Danny Welbeck’s effort, he helped Chelsea collect their first clean sheet since the Premier League’s restart.
Reece James - 6
Restored to the line-up following issues regarding his fitness, James looked composed on the ball without offering too much offensively. Helped contest the midfield battle by drifting centrally to offer a physical and technical presence.
Andreas Christensen - 6
His concentration towards the end of the game served to undermine an otherwise impressive performance. He let Welbeck drift past him and it was only for the intervention of Ruben Loftus-Cheek that Chelsea didn’t concede as a result. Displayed his progressive passing range to help build the tempo despite little to no pressure from the Watford press.
Kurt Zouma - 7
It’s no coincidence that Zouma has kept a clean sheet in all of his last four appearances for the club. He was imperious in the air, towering over Troy Deeney who was removed midway through the second half due to his inability to influence the game. Without the pressure of having to play out of a high press, Zouma’s passing was accurate and incisive.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 7
Racked up another assist in stoppage time with his cutback for Barkley. But he mainly excelled in his ability to aggressively engage Ismaila Sarr when the Senegalese winger looked to break forward.
Ross Barkley - 8
Following on from the disappointment of Wednesday night, Barkley played as if he had a point a prove. He wasn’t scared to receive the ball in tight areas, and the first goal came as a result of him turning under pressure before picking out Giroud’s run. The Englishman played the most attacking passes of any player (47) and his goal was very well taken. Chelsea’s fans will be hoping he can finally put together a consistent run of performances.
N'Golo Kante - 7
Whilst he looked tentative and a little reactive in attacking the loose ball, Kante’s influence grew as Watford backed off. He was able to carry the ball and spread possession without losing his discipline and opening up Chelsea’s defence for the counter-attack.
Mason Mount - 7
With Watford content to sit back and disrupt Chelsea’s momentum, it was of paramount importance that Mount kept the ball ticking over. His movement ensured that The Blues were able to stretch Watford’s defence and his passing was direct and above all else, accurate.
Willian - 7
Willian has taken on a talismanic role since the restart, providing a consistent threat in and around the 18-yard box as well as keeping a cool head from the spot. His ball retention was immaculate and he was unafraid to test Ben Foster whenever the chance arose.
Olivier Giroud - 8
Giroud has continued where he left off before the restart and aside from his well-publicised hold up play the Frenchman has offered a constant goal threat. His runs off the shoulder of the last defender created some excellent opportunities and on another day he would’ve added to his solitary strike.
Christian Pulisic - 7.5
The way he drags opposition defenders towards him is an art form in itself. The close control he displays in tight areas is remarkable and its no surprise he drew yet another foul inside the box. Chelsea looked to channel much of their play through the American.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6: Made a critical intervention to dispossess Will Hughes and should have found the net with a header from James’s in-swinging cross.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 5: Struggled to adapt to the tempo of the game, showing some loose touches albeit in limited minutes.
Tammy Abraham – 5: Despite having scored the most goals of any Chelsea player this season, Abraham still has a lot of work to do to convince people that he is cut out to lead the line permanently.
Billy Gilmour – 6: Sat back and recycled possession as the game wound down to a standstill at times.