Matchday 26 will conclude with a little Monday action at Vicarage Road between Watford and Chelsea.
Both teams have hit rough patches in their campaigns, with Watford failing in three of their last five, and the Blues ending the month of January with just two wins in nine matches. Both teams are desperate for three points to begin February.
The home side sits three points from the relegation zone and their recent form in league play, could put them closer to the dreaded bottom three. The Hornets have lost nine of their last 13 league games, from a lack of attack and conceding goals early.
Abdoulaye Doucoure, continues to be the brightest spot, in an otherwise cloudy attack that has no killer instinct. Manager Javi Garcia, is hoping that the addition of Barcelona winger, Gerard Deulofeu, will spring the offense into action and open up chances for, Troy Deeney and Andre Gray.
The odds are stacked against Watford anytime they play the Stamford Bridge side, but with this match being at Vicarage and the visitors coming in after a shocking loss to Bournemouth, this is a golden opportunity for a moment that Watford fans would cherish for years to come.
Watford’s last five Premier League fixtures:
12/30 – Watford 1-2 Swansea City L
1/2 – Manchester City 3-1 Watford L
1/13 – Watford 2-2 Southampton D
1/20 – Leicester City 2-0 Watford L
1/31 – Stoke City 0-0 Watford D
This has been Chelsea’s worst stretch of games all season. Other than two league wins by a combined score of 7-0, Chelsea’s January has been marred by scoreless draws and getting eliminated out of the “prestigious” Carabao Cup, at the hands of Arsenal.
It’s not going to get any easier for Conte’s men. After Monday’s match with Watford, and then next Monday against West Brom. The Blues will face Hull City in the FA Cup, Barcelona in the Champions League, and then back-to-back away league fixtures against the Manchester clubs.
For Chelsea, they must secure two wins before their season reaches its most challenging peak.
Chelsea’s last five Premier League fixtures:
12/30 – Chelsea 5-0 Stoke City – W
1/3 – Arsenal 2-2 Chelsea – D
1/13 – Chelsea 0-0 Leicester City – D
1/20 – Brighton 0-4 Chelsea – W
1/31 – Chelsea 0-3 Bournemouth – L
MORE FROM THE TOP FLIGHT
Personnel wise, the Blues are in an awkward spot. Eden Hazard has had to play striker and he seems uncomfortable in that role with, Pedro and Ross Barkley, either side of him. In the middle of the field, Tiemoue Bakayoko has been subpar at best.
A guy as big as him (6’2”, 170 lbs) cannot be allowing Bournemouth midfielders to win duels against him in the middle of the field. To win this game, Bakayoko has to be able to take some pressure off of N’Golo Kante, by being that second line of defense and Hazard should move back to his natural wide position.
Fantasy X-Factor – Eden Hazard
Hazard has been a slight disappointment in fantasy this season with Chelsea’s goal numbers down. With Olivier Giroud possibly stepping into the mix on Monday, Hazard can finally move back to the left-wing and be able to cut inside, or get some crosses into his new French target-man. This could be a big game for Hazard if Chelsea plays their cards right.
13 goals have been scored between these two team, in there last two matches. With Hazard having Giroud to cross to in the middle and Watford’s attack going up against an out of form Chelsea defense, this game could see goals and lots of them.
Watford 2-3 Chelsea