English Premier League action on Saturday features bottom of the table Watford hosting fourth place Chelsea at Vicarage Road. The Hornets have already done a managerial change this season sending Javi Gracia packing and replacing him with Quique Sanchez Flores. On the upside, Flores has been at Watford before and took the team to the semifinal of the 2015-2016 FA Cup. The downside is that many boosters feel that the team is more intent on ‘reliving past glory’ than they are getting out of the Premiership basement. The manager they sacked took Watford to the finals of the FA Cup last year so the perception that management is ‘trading down’ is obvious.
Watford has only two wins in their last 13 matches in all competitions but they were both in League Cup play and came against lower division teams–League One Coventry City and Championship level Swansea City. A more daunting concern is their play in Premier League competition which more and more is putting them at risk of getting sent down at the end of this season. Watford is winless in Premier League competition since April 20, 2019 when they beat now relegated Huddersfield Town. They’ve won only two of their last 19 in Premiership play and are now on a 13 game winless streak. Their last EPL win at Vicarage Road came on April 4 over Fulham but they’ve now gone winless in their last 9 with a record of 4 draws and 5 losses. In Premier League play this season Watford is 0-3-2 at home scoring 3 and conceding 8. They’re currently mired in the basement with 5 points, two behind Norwich City and 3 behind Southampton. More importantly, they’re 4 back of Newcastle United and safety from relegation.
Chelsea is coming off of a 2-1 loss to Manchester United in League Cup play but have otherwise been in good form winning their previous 4 in all competitions. After some defensive struggles to start the season Frank Lampard’s charges have done a nice job turning things around and are now on a four game Premier League winning stream in which they’ve outscored opponents 12-2. The loss to Man U ended a 7 game winning streak in all competitions but they’re still on a six game away winning streak in all competitions. Next up for Chelsea is a Champions League tilt against Ajax at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Liverpool is still extending their margin atop the Premiership table but the battle for the next three spots is starting to heat up. Manchester City remains in second place six points back of Liverpool but only two ahead of Chelsea and Leicester City. Chelsea’s defense will likely look like world beaters against an offensively weak Watford team that has scored only once in their last five games in all competitions. Chelsea should get the win here, but Watford is hitting ‘desperation mode’ and it’ll likely be closer than expected.