In an open night of football, Chelsea beat Watford 1-2 at Vicarage Road.
The Blues started brightly and dominated the game. They were only thwarted by a superb goalkeeping performance, but in the end they had to hang on for dear life. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Tammy Abraham
It was once a legitimate query whether or not Tammy Abraham was suitability good enough to be a Premier League striker. Those times seem awfully far away, don’t they? Chelsea’s no. 9 has been exemplary for his side this season across all competitions, and tonight against Watford he was the killer presence.
No player has scored more Premier League goals so far this season than Tammy Abraham.
Number nine for the Chelsea No.9. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yhLr2CfGgj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2019
Abraham’s run and finish was sublime. Yes it owed a tremendous amount to the pass, but Abraham still had to make the run and execute the finish. He lobbed it deftly over Foster for his 9th goal of the season, leaving him as the top scorer in the Premier League this season. Who saw that coming, eh? Oh, and he’s adding more strings to his bow as well, with an exemplary assist for Christian Pulisic in the second-half. Abraham spread wide and then fizzed a beautiful low ball across the face of goal, allowing the American to show up for a tap-in.
Loser: Quique Sanchez Flores
The only time Watford have scored more than once this season was against Arsenal, and given that game was an absolutely omnishambles it’s hard to draw any positive conclusions from it. The idea of bringing in the be-scarfed one (though he was scarfless tonight) was to transform Watford’s fortunes, to rescue them from the death spiral they were in under Javi Gracia.
But against Watford we saw nothing that indicated he was capable of turning things around. Watford played with a general sense of purpose, but no real idea or structure. They scored against Chelsea, but firstly everyone scores against Chelsea and secondly they required a VAR intervention to give them a penalty. They certainly didn’t look like scoring from open play.
The fans were chanting “you don’t know what you’re doing” at him. Which of course is cruel, because he does know what he’s doing, it’s just that what he’s doing isn’t very good and the players at his disposal aren’t very good either.
What a pass. What. A. Pass.
Jorginho played really well against Watford, as he has pretty much all season. And sure he made 125 passes at an absurd 93.6% accuracy, winning possession back a team-high 11 times and created two chances. But forget the numbers, this is about so much more than numbers. His assist, this is about his assist. This is about a player living five seconds in the future, at least he must be because how else do you explain the pass to Tammy Abraham?
Jorginho is about 35 yards from goal when the ball his play his way. There’s no pass on to Abraham, at least not for a normal person. No one would even consider that this was a position from which one could create a goal. But Jorginho is different gravy, and he steps forward and caresses the ball so sweetly it looked like something out of a romance novel.
Once the ball was in the air, however, it was pure sci-fi. The ball bent the laws of physics as we know them. This thing was a parabolic arc around a black hole, except there was no black hole. The ball bent, dipped and curved perfectly around the despairing Watford defence and perfectly into the path of Tammy Abraham.
From here the striker’s job was simple. He lofted the ball over Ben Foster and Chelsea had the lead. The stats will say Jorginho assisted Tammy Abraham, and whilst that will be correct it won’t be true. The truth is far more beautiful than the facts. The truth had to be seen to be believed, and if you saw Jorginho’s pass against Watford then you’re certainly a believer now.
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Winner: Christian Pulisic
The American is a man in form. His hat-trick last weekend sunk Burnley and although he was shut-down by Aaron Wan-Bissaka mid-week in the EFL Cup, he was back in action in the Premier League. Pulisic played well against Watford, pushing forward with the ball and looking like a menace that Watford had to work hard to contend with.
Christian Pulisic completed more take-ons (4) than any other player on the pitch vs. Watford.
Four goals in two games for the American. pic.twitter.com/uYJrzP7XZN
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2019
Then he showed up and scored the second. On the face of it, the goal was simple. A tap-in. But look at it again and see where Pulisic starts the attack from and see where he makes the shot from. He starts miles back, lulling Watford into some slack defending before racing into the space at the last second to slap home the ball – making it indefensible. His fourth goal in his last two Premier League games, all away from home. The American is starting to roll.
Loser: Ben Foster
In many ways, Ben Foster is a winner. In terms of performance he certainly should be a winner. That the game was only 2-1 at the end was almost entirely down to Foster and his heroics. The Englishman made several enormous saves, palming the ball away and stopping the Blues from running riot. He is what kept the score to just 2-1 in stoppage time.
But that’s where Foster’s eternal loserdom comes in. Watford had a stoppage time free-kick and Foster, predictably, went up for it. Somehow Watford were within a good connection on the cross from an equaliser. The ball came in and Foster, incredibly, got his head to it. The ball was even headed on target – low into the corner of the goal. This was going to be huge… then it was saved. Foster could do nothing but congratulate his opposite number. Why not? He earned it.
Winner: Kepa Arrizabalaga
No starting goalkeeper in the Premier League has had a worse save percentage than Kepa has this season. The Spaniard has kept just two clean-sheets, letting in 17 goals. His save percentages is an abysmal 51.43%, that’s worse than Angus Gunn, and he conceded nine goals in one game! Kepa has low-key been having a bad season, and it looked like he was destined to suffer again with no clean sheet.
But then the last second arrived. And Ben Foster headed the ball on target. Kepa threw himself across goal and got a strong wrist to the ball, turning it away. A phenomenal save that saw the entire Chelsea team crowd around and congratulate Kepa. They knew how big the save was, not just because it preserved Chelsea’s win but because it restored Kepa’s pride.