Chelsea FC: Why the Watford win just papers over the cracks

A dramatic victory such as Chelsea’s over Watford on Saturday could be a turning point.

Michy Batshuayi was the saviour for Antonio Conte, as his late cameo ignited a Blues team on a terrible run. This is not necessarily Chelsea escaping their trough of late, however.

The eventual 4-2 scoreline was flattering in the extreme. Chelsea were ripped apart by the Hornets and could easily have fallen to a heavy defeat if the visitors’ finishing was better.

An even two expected goals per side gives a fair reflection of the match. Watford spurned clear chances, while a magical strike from Pedro and clinical finishing from his teammates allowed Chelsea to notch an all-important win.


Backline not as solid as last season

Watford’s ease of chance creation should be the focus from the match.

After Roma parted Chelsea’s defence consistently in midweek and Wilfried Zaha almost single-handedly terrorised them, there are questions of a back line that was the bedrock of their title win last season.

The balance has been upset by changes, and the loss of N’Golo Kante has been even more significant than expected. Where the wing-backs were an asset defensively and offensively, they are being bypassed without their opponents breaking sweat.

Fatigue will, in part, be to blame with the extra fixtures Chelsea have this season. The worst period of form in his Chelsea career for Cesar Azpilicueta should be seen as a warning sign for Antonio Conte, though. The failings of recent matches might just be the start.

Tiemoue Bakayoko is still carrying an injury. The injury might be impeding his performances, and Chelsea will hope it is given his difficulties retaining possession.

Paired with Cesc Fabregas, the midfield is flimsy in comparison to the brick wall of Kante and Nemanja Matic from last term.


Final third not so rosy either

In the final third, things are hardly perfect either.

Alvaro Morata was again bullied, while Azpilicueta’s presence as a wing-back reduced their threat. Batshuayi’s cameo could turn out to be definitive for his career under Conte, but the Belgian will need to deliver on a consistent basis if Chelsea are to avoid another mid-season crisis.

Victory is great. Chelsea got three points that they could not afford to miss out on with Spurs and Arsenal winning.

The performance, though, was not one of a team who are heading in the right direction.


Written by Sam Cox

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_

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