Gerard Deulofeu

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.

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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.

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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Conte brought Olivier Giroud on for his Blues debut, but only after Pedro was withdrawn after being injured in the 63rd minute, adding to the significant Chelsea injury list with Alvaro Morata and Andreas Christensen already struggling with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.

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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.

Premier League Preview: Watford vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea leads all-time 17W-6D-9L
  • Blues unbeaten in 14 vs. Hornets
  • Watford last beat CFC in Sept. 1999

Could this be Antonio Conte‘s last stand?

At least at Chelsea, if reports are to be believed, as the Blues boss may need a win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in order to keep his job as manager of the Premier League champions.

History says it won’t be an issue, with Chelsea enjoying a run of superiority against the club located 25 miles north of Stamford Bridge, though the last two meetings hold goal-heavy stories of 4-3 and 4-2.

The latter was a beaut, with Chelsea opening the match through a Pedro goal but finding itself behind 2-1 with less than 20 minutes to play.

What they’re saying

Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu on joining the Hornets“I knew Neymar, Messi and Suarez were in the team. After Neymar was gone, in comes Dembele and Coutinho. If you want to be in the top teams, you know you have competition in your place. I was playing in Barcelona, I played a lot of games. For the last couple of months I don’t play anything, and I don’t have confidence. That is my solution – to come here for confidence and minutes, and to help Watford. I’m confident in Watford, and confident in myself.”

Chelsea boss Conte on the youth of his side: “As you can see, we are working a lot also with, for example, Ampadu. He’s only 17 years old. Christensen is only 21 years old. Bakayoko is only 23. Zappacosta only 25. We took a lot of young players. With Christensen, we are trying to develop the young players of the Academy. I think we are doing a fantastic job. We are trying to build something important with work – not with words or money.”

Prediction

The Hornets have brought in reinforcements, but will Javi Gracia have them organized and indoctrinated into a very new system? Home field should help some, but Chelsea takes advantage of the Liverpool-Spurs draw to post a 2-0 win.

Done Deal: Sturridge loaned to West Brom; Deulofeu to Watford

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Daniel Sturridge‘s eternal search for full-time first-team minutes has, at long last, come to an end, with the Liverpool and England striker heading to West Bromwich Albion on loan through the end of the season.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundupSunday | Friday ]

Sturridge has made just nine Premier League appearances this season (five as a starter) after making 20 (seven as a starter) a year ago. With West Brom presently sitting 19th in the PL table — three points from safety — Sturridge’s ability to score 8-10 goals over the final 14 games of the season could very well be the difference between relegation and staying up.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright offered the following analysis of how Sturridge will fit at West Brom, and the thinking behind making this move:

He needs game time if he’s going to have any chance of getting in the England squad for the 2018 World Cup this summer and although Jay Rodriguez scored twice against Liverpool in West Brom’s shock FA Cup win at Anfield at the weekend, his talents are better used out wide. West Brom certainly create better chances for their forwards than Newcastle and you can argue that the Baggies have more momentum than the struggling Magpies at a crucial part of the season.

Pardew’s other attacking options at West Brom are far from prolific with Salomon Rondon and Hal Robson-Kanu mustering just five PL goals between them this season despite their hard-working displays. Sturridge would add an extra cutting edge to the Baggies attack and if he stays fit he will give them a massive boost in their battle against relegation from the Premier League.

West Brom also announced on Monday the signing of Egyptian international defender Ali Gabr, a 29-year-old center back who’ll likely be in the Pharaoh’s 23-man squad at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


Elsewhere in the PL, 10th-place Watford (six points separate them from 7th- and 8th-place Leicester City and Burnley, respectively) have made an attacking loan signing of their own: Barcelona (and former Everton, AC Milan, Sevilla and Barcelona, again) winger Gerard Deulofeu.

Following a(nother) unsuccessful spell at his club of development, Deulofeu has again been deemed surplus to requirements and sent on loan to the PL, where he 52 league appearances across two different spells at Everton, where he scored five goals (8 goals in 75 appearances in all competitions).

La Liga: Barca win to maintain lead, but Valencia won’t go away

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona regained a four-point cushion atop the Spanish league with a ho-hum 2-0 win over visiting Malaga and surging Valencia dismissed Sevilla 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia, which has won five in a row.

Barcelona is unbeaten after starting with seven straight wins and drawing with Atletico Madrid last week.

Seldom-used Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring for Barcelona after just two minutes, and Andres Iniesta celebrated his first of the season in the second half thanks to a brilliant assist by Lionel Messi.

Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona benefited from a flagrant referee misjudgment to get its go-ahead goal against Malaga. Left back Lucas Digne was allowed to center the ball after it clearly crossed the byline, and Deulofeu acrobatically back-footed it inside the net.

Despite the blow, the visitors got back up and managed to neutralize Barcelona for most of the first half, but lost striker Diego Rolan just before the second period. The Uruguayan import was forced off by injury.

Without Rolan, Malaga lacked bite in its pressure of the home backline, and Barcelona was able to polish ball circulation and find Messi with more frequency.

Messi received a clean pass from defender Javier Mascherano, drew the defense, and dropped a perfect pass for Iniesta, whose shot was deflected by defender Roberto Rosales on its way to the upper left corner.

Malaga surrendered and Barcelona dominated the rest of the way.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions. Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth.

 

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Barcelona resigns Deulofeu, Milan spending spree continues

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Gerard Deulofeu is heading home.

Barcelona announced it had re-signed the 23-year-old Spanish winger early Friday, two weeks after exercising his buy-back clause after he was sold to Everton in 2015. According to the BBC, the buy-back clause is worth $13.75 million.

The Catalonian club signed Deulofeu to a two-year contract and Deulofeu is already taking part in preseason training with the club.

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Since leaving Barcelona in 2013, Deulofeu has played for Everton, Sevilla and AC Milan, where he finished last season, making 16 starts and scoring four times. Overall with Everton Deulofeu made 62 Premier League appearances with five goals and 11 assists. But he found himself out of coach Ronald Koeman‘s plans heading into this season, opening the door for a return to Barcelona.

For Barcelona, Deulofeu likely wasn’t their first choice to sign this summer but bringing in a homegrown winger who can impact the game off the bench is never a bad idea, especially at a cut-rate price.

Here’s a look at more transfer news from around the Premier League and Europe

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