Frank Lampard will be delighted as Chelsea brushed past the Hornets with ease on a mild summer evening in West London.
After positive results for rivals Leicester and Manchester United, a win was of the greatest necessity to regain momentum after the hiccup in midweek
Starting off the game in fifth position, Chelsea needed no second invitation to swiftly climb back into the top four. Christian Pulisic started brightly, assisted by the guile of Olivier Giroud and dynamism of Mason Mount. The Watford defence was steadfast as Chelsea created a series of dangerous early free kicks, which were not heeded by Giroud and Mount in succession.
Chelsea were dominating proceedings as Watford mustered only half-openings from dead balls which were, somewhat uncharacteristically, handled comfortably by the Blues’ defence.
The pressure began to show as Mount calmly knocked to Barkley who smartly knocked on to Giroud, neatly slotting home in the corner from a challenging angle.
Pulisic remained in fine touch, consistently moving the ball at breakneck speed through the Hornets’ backline. The haphazard physicality of the Watford defence, which had ceded numerous set pieces earlier on, was eventually punished from the spot after the American was brought down by Etienne Capoue shortly before the break.
Willian sent Ben Foster the wrong way to net his ninth goal of the season, ensuring this campaign will be his most prolific to date at the club.
This dominance did not let up after half time, as Chelsea looked increasingly comfortable retaining the ball in midfield. The only occurrence of concern in the second half appeared to be a slight knock for N’golo Kanté, who started again in a deeper midfield role.
This brought about a unique sight in recent times as three Cobham graduates were simultaneously brought into the fold. Tammy Abraham looked more characteristically confident than last time out, Ruben Loftus-Cheek was beginning to look back to his greedy, ball-winning best. Callum Hudson-Odoi, after a difficult period during lockdown, was given his first outing of the restart.
The gloss on the night was provided by a cool finish in the box from Ross Barkley, which was efficiently provided by Pulisic-RLC linkup.
This marked a successful night for Lampard’s side, ensuring that they ended the weekend in those all-important Champions League positions.
Chelsea face a trip to Selhurst Park on Tuesday evening (18:00) to face Crystal Palace.
Watford play Norwich at Vicarage Road at the same time.