Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from a shock defeat to West Ham in midweek when they host struggling Watford at Stamford Bridge. The Blues saw their six-match unbeaten run ended by a late Andriy Yarmolenko winner, with Frank Lampard’s men missing the chance to jump up to third in the Premier League.
Chelsea dominated possession at the London Stadium and took the lead through Willian’s penalty but were undone by poor marking from a corner which allowed Tomas Soucek to head past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Czech midfielder had already seen an effort ruled out by VAR and West Ham then moved ahead when Michail Antonio slammed home from close range shortly after half-time.
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Willian brought the Blues level with a wonderful curled free-kick but abysmal defending in the final moments saw Yarmolenko sprint away from Marcos Alonso and turn inside Antonio Rudiger before slotting home.
The defeat leaves Chelsea fourth in the Premier League, a solitary point behind Leicester and just two ahead of Manchester United and Wolves as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.
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Kepa Arrizabalaga is expected to start in goal despite an unconvincing display in midweek but it remains to be seen whether Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen retain their positions in central defence.
Lampard could instead opt to bring in Kurt Zouma against the Hornets, with the French defender recognised as Chelsea’s most aerially-dominant defender who could help stem the flow of set-piece goals conceded.
Marcos Alonso had a torrid time on Wednesday so Emerson Palmieri may get the nod at left-back although it is more likely that Cesar Azpilicueta moves across and Reece James comes in at right-back.
Meanwhile, Jorginho could make his first appearance since lockdown in place of Kovacic while Mason Mount should come back in for Ross Barkley, who was fairly anonymous against West Ham.
N’Golo Kante has played every minute of action for Chelsea since football returned last month and is overdue a rest so Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Billy Gilmour will hope to start if Lampard rotates out the World Cup winner.
Christian Pulisic and Willian were the Blues’ best players on Wednesday and are almost certain to start here, meaning Hudson-Odoi and Pedro will watch on from the bench once more.
Finally, Lampard must choose between Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud up front with Michy Batshuayi frozen out and unlikely to play again this season.
Watford lost 3-1 to Southampton last weekend and remain without Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success due to injury.
Chelsea predicted line-up vs Watford – Premier League
(4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kante, Mount; Willian, Pulisic, Giroud
SUBS: Caballero, Zouma, Alonso, Loftus-Cheek, Gilmour, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Pedro, Abraham
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