Watford and Chelsea fought out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night, in a game that was lively throughout but failed to deliver an end product. Both teams had positives and negatives to take away from their respective performances, as Watford moved up a position to 9th while Chelsea remained in 13th following this result.
Here are 3 major talking points from the game:
1) A game of two halves
Watford were very much in the ascendancy in the first half, with Chelsea sitting far too deep. The Blues’ central midfield pairing of Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel was very defensive indeed, and this allowed the Hornets to come at them all guns blazing. Thibaut Courtois made a couple of good saves to keep the scores level, first from Sebastian Prodl’s header and then from Etienne Capoue’s fierce drive. Odion Ighalo had a great chance to score but the striker mistimed his jump and failed to meet an inch-perfect cross from the left flank.
After the home side failed to take advantage, Chelsea came out looking much more positive in the second period. The two midfielders in the pivot were playing much higher up the pitch, with Matic in particular making some driving runs. Cesc Fabregas found time and space to play balls over the top with regularity, while Oscar was also a constant threat. In the end, Watford also had their goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to thank, as the Brazilian denied both Oscar and Branislav Ivanovic before keeping out Diego Costa’s header in the final minute.
2) Fabregas runs midfield again, Hazard looks lively after coming on
Chelsea’s stars from last season are slowly but surely returning to form. Fabregas has been the orchestrator of most of the attacking play for his side in the past couple of games and the Spaniard was at it again at Vicarage Road. The Blues were under immense pressure in the first half, but Fabregas created something out of nothing with his vision and passing range. His ball over the top for Costa was pin-point, and the striker would have scored had it not been for a great saving tackle from Jose Holebas.
The second half saw him come into his own even more, as Watford simply stood off him at times. The former Arsenal man had looked tired and jaded in the first half of the season, but the alleviation of his defensive responsibilities due to Mikel’s inclusion in the team has seen him thrive again.
Eden Hazard came on in the second half and looked encouragingly lively from a Chelsea point-of-view. The Belgian looked like he wanted to take on players, and created a great chance for Ivanovic with a run in behind. He does still look a bit rusty, as his first touch when trying to take what could have been a great chance to score late on showed, but there are signs that he is returning to his form of old.
3) Ighalo remains an ever-present threat for Watford
Watford have gone off the boil a bit recently, having won just one game in the Premier League since Boxing Day. They have 33 points to their name at the moment and barring an almighty collapse, Quiqe Sanchez Flores’ side should be good to avoid relegation, which was their target at the start of the campaign.
Their biggest goalscoring threat is undoubtedly Odion Ighalo, who was brilliant again last night. The mercurial Nigerian kept John Terry and Kurt Zouma honest throughout the game, and was a constant threat with his pace. The two defenders were always looking in his direction and it needed their combined efforts to keep him quiet in the end.
Ighalo has scored 14 goals in the Premier League this season and doesn’t in any way look like he’s finished.