After a Europa League draw in mid-week, Chelsea's attention now turns back to sealing their Premier League top-four place when they host mid-table Watford.
Group EPL Stamford Bridge, Fulham, England
Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions and have lost just once at home this calendar year.
Expert Verdict: An away draw with Eintracht Frankfurt kept Chelsea on track in their Europa League semi-finals and now they need to beat Watford to take a big step closer to securing a top-four spot in the Premier League. In a season in which they have been much-maligned, their home form should still give them confidence they will take all three points on Sunday.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was withdrawn with cramp towards the end of the Eintracht Frankfurt match and is unlikely to be risked, while Chelsea are a little light at the back too with Gary Cahill (achilles) and Antonio Rudiger (knee) both ruled out. Callum Hudson-Odoi is also a long-term absentee with a ruptured achilles tendon.
Eden Hazard – Scored both goals in the 2-1 win at Vicarage Road and has 19 goals and 13 assists in all competitions this season.
Willian – With Pedro generally preferred in the Europa League, the Brazilian is likely to be back on the wing for this match, where he could add to his eight goals and 14 assists this season.
Gonzalo Higuain – Scored in the draw with Burnley but the Argentine striker still has a lot to prove after failing to fully hit the highs expected since his January arrival.
Chelsea have drawn their last three matches – two in the Premier League and one in the Europa League – and are now unbeaten in their last four in all competitions. N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain scored in a 2-2 draw with Burnley, while Marcos Alonso netted as they drew 1-1 away to Manchester United. Last time out, Pedro’s equaliser earned a 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.
Defenders:Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso
Midfielders:N Golo Kante, Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic
Forwards:Eden Hazard, Gonzalo Higuain, Willian
Tom Cleverley could be back for Sunday’s match, though may feature from the bench, but Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl are definitely out. Troy Deeney is back from his suspension, so Javi Gracia must decide whether to bring him straight back in for in-form Andre Gray or play the captain from the bench.
Gerard Deulofeu – Two goals in each of Watford’s last two wins – against Wolves in the FA Cup and Huddersfield in the league.
Andre Gray – Scored in each of the last two games and it might be difficult to drop him back to the bench even with Troy Deeney back available.
Roberto Pereyra – His goal at home to Chelsea was one of six he has scored from the win in the Premier League so far this season.
Watford have won just once since their dramatic FA Cup semi-final win at Wembley against Wolves – a 2-1 win away to Huddersfield courtesy of Wembley hero Gerard Deulofeu’s double. They lost 1-0 to Arsenal prior to that game, after Troy Deeney’s red card, and have since drawn 1-1 with Southampton and lost 2-1 to Wolves – Andre Gray scoring in both games.
Defenders:Kiko Femenia, Craig Cathcart, Adrian Mariappa, Jose Holebas
Midfielders:Will Hughes, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capoue, Robert Pereyra
Forwards:Andre Gray, Gerard Deulofeu
Watford have only beat Chelsea once since the turn of the century, but that was a 4-1 win at Vicarage Road in February last season. Chelsea have otherwise won 11 and drawn three of their last 15 matches against the Hornets and boast 18 victories in total in this fixture, compared to six draws and ten Watford wins. This season’s match, on Boxing Day, saw Eden Hazard score twice for Chelsea – either side of Roberto Pereyra’s goal – in a 2-1 Chelsea success.
Here are the results of their last five competitive matches:
Dec 26, 2018: Watford 1-2 Chelsea
Feb 05, 2018: Watford 4-1 Chelsea
Oct 21, 2017: Chelsea 4-2 Watford
May 15, 2017: Chelsea 4-3 Watford
Aug 20, 2016: Watford 1-2 Chelsea
Chelsea’s season has been an inconsistent one at best, but they could finish it with a Europa League final and a top-four spot – and that would be a reasonable return in Maurizio Sarri’s first campaign.
The Blues are in control of their own destiny with regard a top-four spot and home advantage in this fixture could be key.
They have an excellent record against Watford, especially at home, and – with the Hornets out of form in recent weeks – they can maintain that in this game.
Eden Hazard scored twice at Vicarage Road and remains Chelsea’s most potent threat up front, while Gonzalo Higuain is running out of time to prove his goalscoring prowess.
At the other end, both Andre Gray and Gerard Deulofeu are in good form, and Troy Deeney is back from suspension, but that has not been enough to get Watford back to winning ways in the last couple of games.
Chelsea are a little light at the back, with both Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill out injured, but David Luiz and Andreas Christensen can keep the Hornets’ front men occupied.
The ideal for Chelsea would be a comfortable win in order to ease off in preparation for Thursday but their top-four spot needs sealing first and Watford will not be rolling over tamely.
Nevertheless, Chelsea are still favourites and can secure the three points they need for their top-four ambitions.
Chelsea are 2/5 favourites to beat Watford at home with Bet365, Ladbrokes, Betway and 888sport.
They have conceded in recent matches, however, while Watford’s front men are in goalscoring form. Both teams to score has been set at a best price of 20/23 with Betfair.
Chelsea to win and BTTS is 19/10 with Betway and 888sport, meanwhile, and over 2.5 goals will return 8/13 with Bet365.
Eden Hazard scored twice in the reverse fixture, and he is evens with 10Bet and 888sport to score at any time on Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain is 6/5 with Ladbrokes.
Watford have enjoyed a solid season but their form has dipped slightly in recent weeks and, at home, Chelsea can take full advantage in the race for a top-four spot.