Watford are missing Watson for the upcoming visit of Chelsea as he was shown a straight red card for a professional foul against Southampton last time out, preventing a clear breakaway. Instead of being criticised for his actions, teammates were quick to praise his decision to take the red card, allowing them to hold on in the final minutes to a 1-1 draw. There are no other new absentees, though Dja Djedje is still out injured. Success has returned to training and is available for selection, though he’s not at 100% so will only make the bench if he is included. Walter Mazzarri was pleased with the application of his players in their opening day draw and may stick with an unchanged starting line up this time round, with Watson having been sent off after coming from the bench. The back three from the previous game of Cathcart, Prodl and Britos can all expect to keep their places once again, having produced an impressive display in front of Gomes last time out. There are options to rotate, with Kabasele and Nyom viable alternatives, but neither are likely to break into the team at present, with there being no need to make changes and unsettle the defence unnecessarily. At wing back, Holebas is very likely to start on the left, having become first choice under Mazzarri since he took over. On the opposite side there is more competition, with Amrabat the man currently in possession of the shirt. Anya and Nyom compete to displace him, but after a positive performance against Southampton a change doesn’t look likely. In the centre of midfield the depth of options to Mazzarri is a little limited without Watson, especially with Mario Suarez having been loaned to Valencia for the rest of the season in midweek. An unchanged trio of Capoue, Guedioura and Behrami is the most likely course of action, with Doucoure the only really suitable cover. Up front no change is expected as Deeney and Ighalo once again lead the line, with any change to the pairing leaving the team much weaker. A 3-5-2 system has been implemented by Mazzarri since taking over and is unlikely to be changed for this match. They’ll focus on staying organised defensively with a narrow three man back line, though if they afford Chelsea too much space in wide areas it could leave them vulnerable. From a game where a draw is a good result, it’s unlikely Watford play expansively and really try to take control of the game, as it’s just not their style. They’ll try to stifle the middle of the pitch and make the route to goal difficult, keeping the game low scoring if at all possible. They are fairly limited in the final third if Deeney and Ighalo don’t produce, so going behind makes the task of taking points much harder, though they’ll still try and threaten through set pieces. To win this game, it’s very likely that they’ll have to score the first goal. There’s no real pressure on the team to take a result here, but at home they always fancy themselves to take something, even against the top teams. Morale is decent and if they could take a point from this match they would be content with the start made to the season.
Chelsea are virtually at full strength, with just Zouma and van Ginkel injured, with Mikel on international duty. An unchanged line up is possible from their opening win over West Ham, meaning there may only be a place on the bench for Fabregas again. Oscar and Matic are likely to start in midfield, playing ahead of Kante who operates in a holding role. After a convincing display against West Ham, only another win will satisfy Chelsea here, and they’ll believe they can get it. Playing at a high tempo in a 4-1-4-1 formation reaped benefits last time out and the same system is likely to be seen again this time round. They’ll have the majority of possession and look to get their wide players on the ball quickly, exploiting overloads on the Watford wing backs. Hazard will undoubtedly have a big say in this game if matched up with Amrabat, who is a naturally attacking winger. If they can get him into the game early there is a big chance for creation down his side. They’re playing to win and are more than capable of doing so if they play to potential. An open game plays into the hands of Chelsea, who would be more than happy to utilise room on the counter if given it. They’ll aim for the opening goal, which will force Watford out, opening up room for pacey counters to be used. Even if they trail they’ll believe they can win. Despite picking up a comfortable win over West Ham in their opening game, Conte admits he is looking for more from his players. They’ll be high in confidence after their impressive display and will see the trip to Watford as a great opportunity for another win, with anything less disappointing.
Verdict & Prediction
Chelsea will be the favourites to win this game and will believe it’s a match they should take three points from, however Watford aren’t pushovers, especially at home. Complacency won’t be an issue and Chelsea will be keen to carry momentum forward into the next match.
Prediction: Chelsea -0.75 AH
Odds: 1.84 Pinnacle