For lengthy, lengthy, durations on Wednesday, it felt like being a type of nights for Chelsea as they confronted Watford at Vicarage Highway.
A title-chasing powerhouse heads just a few miles up the highway to face one of many division’s strugglers on a bitter winter’s evening and – lo and behold – they get beat; we have all seen it earlier than, up and down the soccer pyramid.
Certainly, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have been thumped 4-1 in the identical fixture on a Monday night in February 2018.
From minute one Thomas Tuchel’s facet appeared destined to endure an analogous destiny. Watford started the sport like males possessed, protecting their guests penned in with a relentless press. It was a tactic that just about yielded two targets inside 5 minutes.
First, Joao Pedro noticed a low shot destined for the underside nook blocked by Trevoh Chalobah, earlier than Edouard Mendy was pressured right into a flying save to tip the ball across the put up after Cesar Azpilicueta inadvertently deflected a cross in direction of his personal objective.
Shortly afterwards the sport was suspended and the gamers have been taken off the sphere after a supporter suffered a cardiac arrest within the stand. Fortunately they have been stabilised earlier than being taken to hospital, however not even the 35-minute pause was sufficient to dampen the Hornet’s strategy.
Even when Mason Mount gave Chelsea the lead towards the run of play 29 minutes in, this didn’t really feel like a match that the Blues would go on to win.
To that time it had been an extremely disjointed efficiency from the guests – a results of heavy rotation and a raft of accidents within the midfield that meant Saul Niguez and Ruben Loftus-Cheek began within the centre. Neither was on their recreation, surrendering the ball and being eaten alive within the midfield battle with Moussa Sissoko.
On the again, Watford’s press noticed Chalobah and Antonio Rudiger shed their common swagger and often squander possession or nervously play backwards, whereas others have been clearly less than the bodily battle that the likes of Sissoko, William Troost-Ekong and Tom Cleverley have been relishing.
Virtually inevitably the equaliser arrived shortly earlier than half-time, and it was a objective that laid naked Chelsea’s deficiencies on the evening. Sissoko latched onto Loftus-Cheek as he tried to pirouette in the midst of the park, stealing the ball and driving into opposition territory. He fed Emmanuel Dennis, who was afforded the house to squeeze the ball by way of Rudiger’s legs and into the nook.
Lately passed by, Chelsea wouldn’t have discovered a winner – and maybe they’d even have slipped to a defeat. However – simply as hundreds of supporters throughout the globe reached for his or her telephones to slag off the supervisor’s workforce choice and ways on Twitter – this iteration of the Blues demonstrated they’re fabricated from sterner stuff.
With simply over quarter-hour remaining, Mount – the one Chelsea participant who matched Watford’s depth and chunk all through – did fantastically to hold the ball to the byline and produce a pinpoint cut-back to substitute Hakim Ziyech, who whipped his end into the roof of the web.
It was a profitable objective that knocked the stuffing out of Watford, who lastly relinquished and will do no extra to get one thing from the match. It was a profitable objective that was the distinction between Chelsea remaining prime of the Premier League and slipping to 3rd as Man Metropolis and Liverpool each gained on the evening.
This was removed from classic Chelsea. Certainly, it was in all probability up there with their worst shows of the season, however everyone knows how the cliché goes about prime groups which can be able to grinding out outcomes.
On the finish of each title-winning marketing campaign there are all the time sure matches which can be appeared again upon as ‘defining’. This might nicely be considered one of them for Tuchel’s males come Might.
For extra from Krishan Davis, observe him on Twitter!