Battling Chelsea show mettle to overcome bruising Watford test

For long, long, periods on Wednesday, it felt like being one of those nights for Chelsea as they faced Watford at Vicarage Road.

A title-chasing powerhouse heads a few miles up the road to face one of the division’s strugglers on a bitter winter’s night and – lo and behold – they get beat; we’ve all seen it before, up and down the football pyramid.

Indeed, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were thumped 4-1 in the same fixture on a Monday evening in February 2018.

From minute one Thomas Tuchel’s side seemed destined to suffer a similar fate. Watford began the game like men possessed, keeping their visitors penned in with a relentless press. It was a tactic that almost yielded two goals inside five minutes.

First, Joao Pedro saw a low shot destined for the bottom corner blocked by Trevoh Chalobah, before Edouard Mendy was forced into a flying save to tip the ball around the post after Cesar Azpilicueta inadvertently deflected a cross towards his own goal.

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