Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Goals: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.2m), David Luiz (£5.8m), Gonzalo Higuaín (£9.0m)
Assists: Eden Hazard x2 (£10.9m), Pedro (£6.2m)
Bonus: D Luiz x3, Hazard x2, Loftus-Cheek x1
Eden Hazard (£10.9m) duly delivered on his Gameweek 37 promise as he was comfortably the best player at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Providing two assists and securing two bonus, the Belgian emerged with an 11-point haul to help those using him as a differential on the top 10k. He had effective ownership in that bracket of just 22.06% for Gameweek 37 in a week where the average score without a chip in the top 10k currently stands at just 30.98.
For that reason, those in possession of Hazard might have hoped for a little more considering how well he played against Watford. No Fantasy asset managed more shots in the box or created more chances than him, most of which came in the second half. Chelsea started the game quite poorly as Watford set up with a high-press, so had the Blues played the first half as they did the second it is possible that Hazard might have scored too.
“I think that, in the first half, we were in trouble because we were tired: physically and mentally. Then, in the second half, they lowered their intensity so we were in control of the match. We were lucky, of course, because we scored after two minutes. After the first goal, probably we improved mentally and we were able to play very well for 30-35 minutes. In the first half, we were tired and in trouble, I think tired more mentally than physically. But it’s not easy to play after 60 hours. In the past, after a match away in the Europa League, we won only one match.” – Maurizio Sarri
Furthermore, Hazard’s owners find themselves in something of a quandary ahead of Gameweek 38. His recent success has been almost exclusively in front of his own supporters, and not been replicated on the road. Despite four double-figure hauls in his last five home league matches, the Belgian has eight blanks in his last nine away. In fact, the last time he found the net on his travels in the Premier League was at Watford in Gameweek 19. With Leicester also proving quite effective in defence since Brendan Rodgers took over, it does seem somewhat unlikely that Hazard will be able to sign off his FPL season in a similar fashion to Gameweek 37.
Once again, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£5.2m) showed his potential to be a serious asset worth considering in 2019/20 with another fine performance. He did not start the match as Maurizio Sarri continues to manage his minutes due to an ongoing back problem but he Chelsea were much better for his introduction. As ever, it was Loftus-Cheek’s drive from central midfield that got Chelsea going and in the end, only Hazard completed more successful take-ons than him at Stamford Bridge.
Crucially, despite limited game-time this year, the England international has managed to record the same minutes per touch (1.1) as Hazard and his minutes per pass received of 1.7 is just shy of his colleague’s 1.6. Also in the last four home matches, Loftus-Cheek has averaged more big chances and higher expected goals (xG) than Hazard.
Chelsea’s chances of success both in the Europa League and on the final day of the Premier League may very well depend on what progress N’Golo Kanté (£4.9m) can make this week. He was forced off in the 10th minute with a hamstring injury and Sarri currently does not know the severity. It does seem likely that the Frenchman will miss the next two matches, even if he can recover, as the Chelsea manager seemed to regret not resting him for the Watford game.
“I don’t know. The problem is with his hamstring. But I think that I made a mistake because, probably, today he had to rest. Sometimes it’s very difficult to put on the bench a player so important like Hazard, like Kante, but you have to do it. Otherwise, you risk, and I have to say that I made a mistake. I don’t know (the severity). We have to wait until tomorrow morning, I think, but I think it’s very difficult to recover him for the next two matches. But we want to play in the final, so he’s lucky. We have to try and recover him for the final in case (we get there).” – Maurizio Sarri
Meanwhile, David Luiz (£5.8m) rewarded his 11.6% ownership with an impressive 15-point haul. Not only did he keep a clean sheet and score the second goal of the game, but he also secured three bonus in the process. He did come off in the 89th minute but that was not connected with an injury at all. As it was the last home league game of the season, and the result was secure, Sarri took the opportunity to allow Gary Cahill (£5.0m) the chance to come on for a final appearance at Stamford Bridge ahead of a probable departure this summer.
“Today was his last match for Chelsea, so it was important for him to be on the pitch, only for a few minutes but I still think it was really very important for the fans and for him. Here, Gary won everything. And so I think he had to say goodbye to the stadium, to the fans, to the club.” – Maurizio Sarri
Watford actually began this encounter as the better side. Their high press limited Chelsea’s attack most effectively, with the Blues not managing a single shot above 0.5 xG until the second half. However, the Hornets were unable to sustain their pressure beyond the break and were ultimately undone by their biggest weakness this season: set pieces.
“It felt like we played very well in the first half and a bit of a lack of concentration killed the game for us. It’s a lesson learned for this season, we have to be very ruthless in both boxes.” – Nathaniel Chalobah
“I think the result was very, very tough for us,” said Gracia. “In my opinion, we didn’t deserve that result. We had some good moments in the first half, a good performance, creating chances, dominating the game, recovering the ball with a good attitude and playing in the opposition half. We didn’t take our chances, we didn’t confirm [our superiority]. We have to be more clinical in that situation and be more aggressive in both boxes. It is difficult as I am happy with the performance but I am not happy losing 3-0.” – Javi Gracia
Gerard Deulofeu (£5.7m) continues to prove a more effective threat in away matches than he does at home. He may have failed to find the net at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon but he had more efforts on goal than any other player, although none were on target.
The Spaniard was reunited with strike-partner Troy Deeney (£5.8m) up front, who was back after his three-match suspension. With the FA Cup final later this month looming large, Javi Gracia opted to preserve the pair by bringing Isaac Success (£4.5m) and Andre Gray (£5.9m) on for them in the 83rd minute.
The two substitutes were involved in an unfortunate turn of events for Watford in the closing stages. Success headed the ball towards Chelsea’s goal following a ball in from a set piece, but it inadvertently hit Gray, who was standing in an offside position, before going in the net and being disallowed.
Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Kepa; Alonso, D Luiz (Cahill 89′), Christensen, Azpilicueta; Kovačić, Jorginho, Kanté (Loftus-Cheek 10′); Hazard, Higuaín (Giroud 79′), Pedro.
Watford XI (4-4-2): Foster; Holebas, Cathcart, Mariappa, Kiko Femenía; Pereyra, Doucouré, Chalobah (Cleverley 67′), Hughes; Deeney (A Gray 83′), Deulofeu (Success 83′).
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