Richarlison

Watford 4-1 Chelsea: Bakayoko’s early red dooms woeful Blues

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  • Bakayoko sent off 30 minutes in for 2nd yellow
  • Troy Deeney scored from the spot
  • Chelsea conceded three times in the final 10 minutes

Life comes at you fast.

Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off after a half-hour, and while it appeared Eden Hazard had rescued the Blues after a mostly woeful performance, Chelsea ultimately could see it over the line, conceding three times in the final nine minutes plus stoppage time to fall to Watford for the first time since 1999.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bakayoko, who has struggled mightily since moving to Chelsea from Monaco over the summer, had a horror first-half, and it only lasted just over a half-hour before he was sent to the showers. The 23-year-old was booked 25 minutes in for a foul on Etienne Capoue, and just five minutes later a heavy touch got away from him. In his reckless effort to win the ball back, he stepped over the ball and caught Richarlison with a nasty stomp, earning a deserved second booking and reducing Chelsea to 10 men before halftime.

Antonio Conte was forced to sacrifice Willian to shore up the midfield in Bakayoko’s absence, bringing on Cesc Fabregas four minutes after the red card. Watford was still able to possess the ball with more ferocity, and they earned the game’s opening goal as debutant Gerard Deulofeu was fouled in the box by Thibaut Courtois. Troy Deeney scored from the spot, and the Hornets went ahead just before the halftime break.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea showed more intent in the second half despite their disadvantage, but it was Watford that had the best chance before the hour mark, with Deulofeu popping up in a dangerous spot again off a corner to fire a shot from outside the top of the box that just skipped wide right.

Conte brought Olivier Giroud on for his Blues debut, but only after Pedro was withdrawn after being injured in the 63rd minute, adding to the significant Chelsea injury list with Alvaro Morata and Andreas Christensen already struggling with fitness. Moments later, Abdoulaye Doucore forced an acrobatic save by Courtois as he rifled on net on the break.

Cesc Fabregas had a big chance for Chelsea to pull level with 10 minutes to go after great work from Eden hazard, but his shot was poorly placed directly at Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Chelsea continued to put Watford under pressure, and the equalizer came a minute later. Chelsea superstar Hazard rescued his team as he undressed Adrian Mariappa, cutting inside and slightly backwards before rifling a stunning curler into the far top corner for the equalizer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The game began to open up, and Watford went right back in front. Darryl Janmaat put the Hornets ahead again, carving up the Chelsea defense on a give-and-go with substitute Roberto Pereyra, and then Deulofeu sliced and diced on the break to put the game away. Pereyra piled on the Blues misery with a fourth a minute into injury time.

The loss, Chelsea’s second in a row, leaves them vulnerable in fourth just a point ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham. The Blues have won just once in the last five matches. Watford, meanwhile, remains in 11th but pulled within just one of 10th placed Everton.

WATCH LIVE: Watford vs. Chelsea

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Gerard Deulofeu gets the start as Watford looks to get the better of Chelsea for the first time since 1999 — insert topical Minnesotan Prince reference — at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ WATCH LIVE: Watford vs. Chelsea ]

Willian, Pedro, and Eden Hazard are atop the Chelsea 3-4-3, while Watford matches the visitors formation wise with Deulofeu, Deeney, and Richarlsion in the trident.

LINEUPS

Watford: Karnezis; Mariappa, Prödl, Holebas; Janmaat, Doucouré, Capoue, Zeegelaar; Deulofeu, Deeney (C), RicharlisonSubs: Bachmann, Mukena, Ndong, Pereyra, Lukebakio, Carrillo, Gray.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Zappacosta; Willian, Hazard, Pedro. Subs: Caballero, Rudiger, Emerson, Drinkwater, Fabregas, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud.

Stoke City 0-0 Watford: Stalemate in the Potteries

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  • Stoke unbeaten under new boss Paul Lambert
  • Watford have failed to score in each of their last four Premier League matches v Stoke
  • Shaqiri, Crouch both go close twice

Stoke City and Watford shared the spoils at the bet365 Stadium in a 0-0 draw on Wednesday between the two newest Premier League managers.

The home side had the better chances but found Orestis Karnezis in inspired form as new Watford boss Javi Gracia grabbed a point from his first game in charge.

With the point Stoke are in 16th place and remain unbeaten under Paul Lambert, while Watford are in 11th but just three points ahead of the Potters.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

It was a tight, tense first half in the Potteries as the first big chance fell to Stoke.

Charlie Adam whipped in a cross but Mame Biram Diouf nodded an effort wide.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

At the other end Watford’s best chance came from a corner as Jose Holebas whipped in a curling ball which missed everyone but hit the top of the crossbar.

Watford went close again through debutant Gerard Deulofeu setting up Richarlison but the home side looked more dangerous.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

In the second half a great chance arrived for the home team with Xherdan Shaqiri through but his shot was saved by Karnezis and then Watford’s goalkeeper also denied Peter Crouch with the follow up.

Crouch went close again soon after as Stoke pushed for the opener with Shaqiri also denied by the solid presence of Karnezis.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Both teams had to settle for a point in a tight, nervy encounter as Abdoulaye Doucoure had an effort blocked and Richarlison went close for Watford.

 

One player for each of the Premier League’s Top Six

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The Premier League’s transfer window is going to close within the next two weeks, and each of the big boys feels a need to find help in at least one position on the field.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Manchester City: Yes, it’s laughable that City would require another piece; They’ll be fine either way. But injuries to Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy and lack of faith in Danilo does mean that left back would be a spot of interest for Pep Guardiola. This is not shot at young Oleksandar Zinchenko, but City wants at least a treble. This is why City is being linked with Fred, who can play at left back as well as his traditional center mid. It makes sense.

Manchester United: Yeah, yeah, Alexis Sanchez, we know. But with Michael Carrick retiring and Ander Herrera‘s surprising lack of consistent starting time, perhaps Jose Mourinho is aiming for more presence in the center of the park. It betrays things in terms of age, but Lassana Diarra is a free agent and could provide the competition United craves at an easy-to-digest budgetary addition.

Chelsea: Adding Ross Barkley was a nice pick-up, but depth behind Alvaro Morata is clearly a desire for Antonio Conte considering the names which have been linked with Stamford Bridge: Andy Carroll, Ashley Barnes, Edin Dzeko, Peter Crouch. West Ham might like a Carroll-for-Batshuayi swap, and the big Englishman would be a huge get for the Blues should he stay healthy. We wonder if newly available loan target Andre Schurrle has any love left for Chelsea

Liverpool: Here’s a name you probably expected in the City portion of this post: Johnny Evans. The ex-Manchester United defender may be on the move from West Brom, and pairing him with Virgil Van Dijk would give Jurgen Klopp‘s 4-4-2 perhaps the toughest center back pairing in England. Obviously pushing the Naby Keita transfer earlier would be way more effective for Klopp’s project, but it is extremely unlikely to happen in January. So we stick with Evans. Bold statement: With Evans, Liverpool could post the most points in the PL the rest of the way. With Evans and Keita, they’ll be a favorite to rival Man City next season.

Tottenham Hotspur: This club is very, very good and two deep at nearly every position. Heck, Victor Wanyama can’t even get on the field. That’s why it makes sense that the club’s been linked with unfinished project Malcom as well as Schurrle, who Bordeaux said today will not be moving in January. So while that’s the name we’d choose, we’ll instead nod to Cagliari youngster and Golden Boy nominee Nicolo Barella, whose name continues to pop up as a target of several top clubs in the Premier League.

Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be nice, and forward is being magnified as a position at the Emirates Stadium thanks largely to a slow period for the very good Alexandre Lacazette. But his numbers are going to increase with (probably, almost certainly) Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil as twin playmakers, the former who will be motivated to prove his Manchester United critics wrong (See his amazing final Bundesliga season for hope, Gunners fans).

So we’ll seek Arsenal help closer to the back, where they need center back experience thanks to the predictable slide of Per Mertesacker and the unpredictable dip in form of Laurent Koscielny. Man, Evans is a good shout here, but we’ll go off the board completely and speculate that Ajax teen center back Matthijs de Ligt is a very Arsene Wenger type player. In other words: instantly effective or not, how Wenger would it be to add a teenage CB? In a window in which he’s (maybe) sated those who want both a playmaker (Mkhitaryan) and striker (Aubameyang), that seems pretty possible.

Can Man United still sign Sanchez without Mkhitaryan swap?

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The answer to the (first) titled question is, undoubtedly, yes.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

The latter question — the “will they?” — remains a relative unknown at this point, but if reports out of the UK are to be believed, Manchester United are just as likely to send $40 million (or so) Arsenal’s way in exchange for Alexis Sanchez, should Henrikh Mkhitaryan refuse the move by declining any contract offers from the Gunners.

[ MORE: Conte bewildered VAR not used in Chelsea PK controversies ]

The thinking, at least for the last few days since Man United somewhat unexpectedly entered the Sanchez sweepstakes, was that swapping the Armenian for the Chilean was the obvious — and, perhaps only — way forward. Call it special circumstances or an obvious audible, but that’s not necessarily the case — from the Guardian:

“It is understood that if Mkhitaryan does not leave Mourinho believes that, given the club’s robust finances, [Man United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward could still sanction a move for a player who would potentially vastly improve United.”

By the time Sanchez is signed, sealed and delivered, United will have also paid Sanchez and his agent, Fernando Felicevich, massive signing-on fees that could total another $30 million. No matter the order in which the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan saga plays out, United will come out ahead with a superior player at a massively discounted price — should Sanchez ultimately move to Old Trafford, of course.