Chelsea look to bounce back from their disappointing 3-2 defeat to London rivals West Ham when they host another of the Premier League’s relegation-battlers on Saturday, a Watford side that have returned from lockdown looking a different side to the one that looked in good form and well-organised in Nigel Pearson’s first few months in charge.
The Blues were looking in fine fettle before Wednesday’s disappointing defeat, returning by coming back from a goal behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1, defeating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City via the same scoreline before a 1-0 win over Leicester saw them progress to the FA Cup semi-finals.
The midweek defeat exposed some defensive flaws that Lampard will hope to iron out, but such a quick turnaround of fixtures doesn’t give him a great deal of time on the training pitch. Still, he’ll be confident his side can dispatch of a Watford side 14 places and 26 points worse off this season, with Chelsea beating Watford in five of the last six meetings at Stamford Bridge, drawing the other, and coming away with a relatively comfortable 2-1 win in the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road last November.
Watford, meanwhile, had looked well on course to steer aware from safety in the spring, with five wins from Nigel Pearson’s first 13 matches in charge, including a statement 3-0 win to end champions Liverpool’s unbeaten run. But they’ve taken just one point of 12 available since then, returning from the hiatus with a hard-fought 1-1 against Leicester before limp defeats to Burnley (1-0) and Southampton (3-1).
Frank Lampard will be looking at Wednesday’s defeat as just a blip, and they’ve otherwise been in fine form of late, but still clean sheets tend to evade them - just one from their last ten outings in the Premier League. Chelsea are just 2/5 to win, but 2/1 to win and both teams to score - as has been the case in 10 of their 16 league wins so far. More specifically, a comfortable 3-1 victory at 12/1 is worth considering.
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