February 2, 2018

Watford v. Chelsea Preview  (Sky Sports)

Troy Deeney and Eden HazardNew signing Olivier Giroud is likely to be on the bench as Chelsea look to return to winning ways at Watford on Monday Night Football (8pm kick-off).

The Frenchman joined from Arsenal on Deadline Day and watched the shock 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth from the stands on Wednesday evening along with fellow new arrival Emerson Palmieri.

Both players are returning to fitness following injuries and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has insisted they must be eased back into first-team action, suggesting Giroud will be among the substitutes for the game, which is live on Sky Sports Premier League.

He said: "We have to wait because don't forget that especially for Palmieri we are talking about a player he's coming from a bad injury.

"Olivier is coming (back) from a muscular injury, he was out for 50 days before he played 15 minutes in the game against Swansea (for Arsenal, on Tuesday). We are working with him and we have to check his physical condition. It won't be easy for him to start.

"I think we have to try to make the best decision to bring these two players in the best physical condition and then to work with them because it's important to have themselves with our idea of football."

Team news

Alvaro Morata remains unavailable for Chelsea because of his back injury, while centre-back Andreas Christensen will miss out due to the hamstring problem he suffered against Bournemouth.

Forward Willian could return though following his hamstring issue and defender David Luiz is back training after an ankle problem.

Watford will continue to be without goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who has been sidelined for three matches with a back complaint.

Didier Ndong could make his first appearance following his deadline-day switch from Sunderland.

Younes Kaboul (foot), Miguel Britos (ankle), Kiko Femenia, Will Hughes (both hamstring), Isaac Success, Craig Cathcart, and Nathaniel Chalobah (all knee) remain unavailable.

Opta stats

Watford are winless in 13 matches against Chelsea in all competitions (D3 L10) since a 1-0 win in the Premier League in September 1999.

Chelsea's 50-point tally after 25 games this season is 10 fewer than they'd won at this stage last season on their way to the title (60).

Watford have 27 points from 25 games this season - they had won more at this stage in both 2016-17 under Walter Mazzarri (30) and 2015-16 under Quique Sánchez Flores (33).

Watford have won six points from 11 games since the start of December (W1 D3 L7) - the worst points tally of any Premier League side in this period.

Chelsea have scored a league-high 13 headed goals this season, while since his Premier League debut in August 2012, Giroud has scored the most headers in the competition (27).

Richarlison has no goals and just one assist in his last 12 Premier League appearances for Watford, despite playing 1044 minutes in these games.

Merson's prediction

After the result on Wednesday, it's all about the top four for Chelsea. They got to get into the top four and while Watford got a good point at Stoke, Chelsea need to respond with a win at Vicarage Road.

I can't see how Watford stop Eden Hazard. I also think Olivier Giroud will play and they'll be a better team than the one we saw against Bournemouth. Watford stopped the rot at Stoke but let's be honest, they are in trouble. They are on a poor run and Chelsea should take advantage.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (11/1 with Sky Bet)

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