Chelsea moved into third in the Premier League table as they picked up a comfortable 3-0 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Watford began brightly, pressing Chelsea high, and would have taken the lead after just seven minutes had it not been for Kepa Arrizabalaga's stunning save to deny Troy Deeney. The Blues grew into the game, but struggled to create any real chances of note, and the game remained goalless heading into the break.
However, whatever Maurizio Sarri said to his team at half-time certainly worked, as Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz both headed past Ben Foster inside six second-half minutes to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead out of nothing. The goals gave the Blues new life, and they dominated proceedings for the remainder of the game.
They grabbed a third with 15 minutes to go as Gonzalo Higuain showed his composure to chip the ball over the onrushing Foster. Watford had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, but Isaac Success's header was ruled out after it hit off the offside Andre Gray on its way into the back of the net, summing up what was a frustrating day for the Hornets.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
After a lacklustre first half, it seemed like the Chelsea players figured out they needed a win to keep up their top-four aspirations. They emerged from the break as a changed side, and they now look a certainty for Champions League qualification.
The mood around Stamford Bridge has been toxic at times this season, yet they are now third in the league table, behind only Manchester City and Liverpool. Their destiny is in their own hands, and it certainly takes the pressure off of their Europa League journey. Chelsea certainly want to win that competition, but it seems like Champions League qualification will come regardless.
STAR MAN - Ruben Loftus-Cheek
How Loftus-Cheek is not a permanent fixture of Chelsea's starting lineup is astonishing. The England international began the game on the bench, but was introduced after a matter of minutes following an injury to N'Golo Kante. Once again, he proved exactly why he should be a starter.
Picking the ball up from deep, Loftus-Cheek constantly looked to use his pace and power to carry the ball forward, and he did so superbly. He offered Chelsea a midfield threat which has not been seen since Frank Lampard's time at the club, and Sarri has to have taken notice of his impact.
That's the most complete performance of Loftus-Cheek's Chelsea career. Got a good goal, but more importantly, he was aggressive in the tackle, and played with an infectious sense of urgency. Special talent.— Raghuram Cadambi (@raghuramcadambi) May 5, 2019
Loftus-Cheek stays injury free he could genuinely be one of the best midfielders in the world. Absolutely untouchable when he’s on song.— Tom (@TomD_3) May 5, 2019
His goal was a fair reward for an impressive showing, heading past Foster to keep his side on top in the race for Champions League football. He's a stunning talent, and Sarri might have realised that now.
Key Talking Point
With seventh place now out of their reach, you would have forgiven Watford for taking a break in their remaining league fixtures, with one eye on the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester City. However, that certainly was not the case.
The Hornets began the game superbly, pressing high and forcing errors from a panicked Chelsea defence. It is that exact tactic which has created problems for City this season, so perhaps Javi Gracia viewed this game as a good practice session for his team.
Hope Watford play this good in the FA Cup final 👏🏼👏🏼— jodiews (@Jodie_WS) May 5, 2019
This Watford team play some great football.. They'll give City a game in the FA Cup final. . .— John Wrafter (@JohnWrafter1) May 5, 2019
STAR MAN - Gerard Deulofeu
The strike partnership of Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney caused countless problems for Chelsea, but it was the former who just edged the vote here. Deulofeu was as lively as ever, and his speed was a vital part of Watford's tactics in the first half.
When he was on the ball, he always looked to run at his man, confident that his dribbling abilities would be good enough to help his cause. He had some good shots on goal, but his contribution in the final third just left something to be desired.
The Spaniard was his side's greatest threat throughout the game and, on another day, he may have found himself on the score sheet.