Chelsea celebrated their Premier League title win with a topsy-turvy 4-3 victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge.
After John Terry’s opener was cancelled out by Ettiene Capoue’s header, Cesar Azpilicueta’s rocketed strike meant Chelsea led at the half-time interval.
Michy Batshuayi extended the champions’ lead and although goals from Daryl Janmaat and Stefan Okaka completed an unlikely Watford comeback, Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to seal a win and continue Chelsea’s celebratory ways.
Friday night’s win at West Bromwich Albion was the three points that confirmed the league title for Antonio Conte’s men and there was a celebratory feel around Stamford Bridge for the game against the Hornets. The Italian made plenty of changes to his regular team with players such as Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma and Batshuayi all given a chance in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, Terry’ starting berth meant he led Chelsea out as captain perhaps for the last time and the central defender marked the occasion with the opening goal after 22 minutes. Chalobah’s corner should have been defender better by the Watford defence and when the ball broke free in the penalty area, Terry pounced to slam in off the post from six yards out. It was Terry’s 41st Premier League goal and it marked Chelsea’s 100th goal of the season in all competitions.
With the first goal in the bag, it was expected that the Blues would go on to win comfortably from there but inside a minute of the goal, Watford pulled level. Terry was involved again as he went from hero to villain with a sloppy header that allowed Capoue to nod past Asmir Begovic from close range. It was a bad mistake from the Chelsea skipper and it marked Watford’s first away goal in close to three months.
Despite the set-back, Chelsea’s confidence never wavered as they knocked the ball about with pride and focus. With 36 minutes on the clock, they retook the lead through an unlikely goalscorer. Azpilicueta had started all of Chelsea’s games this season and had Watford reeling with a powerful low shot from the edge of the box that rifled into the bottom corner.
The second half continued to be dominance from the new champions and they extended their lead after just four minutes. Kennedy’s deflected shot fell to Nathan Ake in the penalty box and the defender unselfishly squared the ball across for Batshuayi to knock in his second goal in as many Premier League games following his title-clinching winner against the Baggies.
Chelsea now had a comfortable two-goal lead, but Watford would hit back immediately for a second time as they reduced the deficit just two minutes later. Janmaat collected Jose Holebas’ pass and ran right through Chelsea’s defence before wrapping the ball into the bottom corner from ten yards out. It was a poor defensive showing from the Blues and Conte was visibly furious on the touchline.
Watford were truly going against the script with a battling performance and they got an equaliser their performance deserved with 16 minutes to go. Tom Cleverley’s simple cross should have been dealt with by either Terry or Zouma, but the ball was allowed to fall through to Okaka and the Italian rifled past Begovic from ten yards out. It was a well-taken goal, but there was a real threat of Watford crashing the party.
Fortunately for Conte, he had an array of talent on the bench to turn to and it was an important figure from recent weeks that came up with the winning goal. Fabregas has been lauded by pundits for a string of impressive performances in the title run-in and when he took Willian’s pass with a first time shot, nobody was surprised to see the ball nestle in the bottom corner with precise accuracy in the 88th minute.
It ended badly for Watford too when a red card to Stefan Prodl meant the Hornets finished the game with ten men. It was a late tackle on Pedro from the defender that resulted in a second yellow card, but all attention was on Chelsea as they continued their winning ways.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)