Chelsea will host Watford tomorrow, July 4, as the Blues look to keep a two-point cushion over Manchester United and Watford.
Manchester United and Wolverhampton are in red-hot form and Chelsea could potentially start the game against Watford being sixth.
Frank Lampard understands the stakes, and so do the fans.
It a must-win game against a team fighting for relegation escape. However, the Hornets have not had a good run since the Premier League restart and Chelsea should capitalise.
Watford tend to let opponents have the ball, but don’t sit back
Watford will likely let Chelsea have the majority of the possession in this game. They have had the third-lowest average possession in the Premier League this season at just 44.4%.
However, unlike most counter-attacking sides, they do not shell out in their defensive third and tend to try to win the ball in the middle third of the pitch.
The Hornets have put more pressures in the middle of the field (2586) than any other Premier League side this term (FBref).
This might be the best opportunity for Lampard to rest N’Golo Kante and deploy the more pressure-resistant Jorginho.
With Kovacic ruled out for this game, the manager may use Mason Mount and Ross Barkley to fill the remaining midfield spots.
Set-piece specialists, a warning for Chelsea
At the back, Lampard may want to focus on aerial prowess.
The West Ham United defeat displayed Chelsea’s poor set-piece defence and Watford has scored 37.9% of their goals from set-pieces (11 goals out of total 29 – Whoscored) — alarming statistics for the home team to take note of.
Nigel Pearson’s side also tend to hoof the ball forward with 16% long pass rate (64 long balls out of total 396 passes).
Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen have been Chelsea’s best options to deal with aerial duels (73.9% and 67.9% aerial duel win rate, respectively).
Pulisic to draw penalties?
For the attack, Christian Pulisic and Willian appear to be the obvious options, while Tammy Abraham’s recent poor performance could present Olivier Giroud another Premier League start.
Watford have conceded joint-most penalty goals this season (six) and elusive Pulisic’s elusiveness could be a weapon inside the penalty box.
Azpilicueta – Christensen – Zouma – Alonso
Barkley – Jorginho – Mount
Willian – Giroud – Pulisic
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