Blues avoid a Hornets Nest
Written By: Robert Halter
Seven times F.A. Cup winners Chelsea looked to avoid a sting in the tale for the third round tie against the Hornets at Stamford Bridge, beginning of January. After Didier Drogba received a knock from Juan Carlos Paredes, a free kick was floated in by Andre Schurrle which was hooked over the crossbar from Gary Cahill in the sixth minute. Four minutes later, the Golden Boys settled into the game with a low dipping shot by Daniel Toszer which was clasped upon by Petr Cech. There was a moment of concern for Chelsea, when Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond clattered into Oscar while the Hornets defender Gabriele Angella chased a ball with the Blues midfielder on thirteen minutes which was unlucky for some but Oscar was soon back on his feet. In the twenty sixth minute, Watford captain, Troy Deeney tried a pop shot from long range but Cech handled the ball comfortably. But within a minute, Drogba latched onto a right wing cross by Loic Remy and Bond flung himself at the ball to keep out Drogba’s near post header. On forty two minutes from a Filipe Luis corner, a header by Cahill was misguided wide of the far post. Although within sixty seconds, Watford had a shot by Fernando Forestieri which took a wicked deflection off Kurt Zouma and sailed over the upright. Just before half time, Drogba cut in from the right side and the ball was plucked away to safety by Bond. But Watford responded prior to the break as Odion Ighalo dragged his shot wide from a ball across by Daniel Pudil. At half time, the Blues replaced Oscar with Diego Costa and Schurrle with Willian. In the fifty fourth minute from Deeney’s low cross, a defensive mistake off Luis’s back heel, had to be kept out from the goal line by Cech’s foot to avert the danger of an own goal. However, the Blues broke forward again on fifty seven minutes as Ramires supplied Costa before the ball deflected off Tommie Hoban as Drogba was unable to force the ball in. But within two minutes, a piece of magic from Willian broke the deadlock, when from Costa’s pass, the ball was laid on by Remy on the floor and Willian’s strike from outside the box soared into the top right corner. On the hour mark, Deeney ran onto a defensive mistake by Luis but fired his shot straight at Cech. The Hornets soon took off Odion Ighalo for Matej Vydra. But Chelsea made it two on sixty nine minutes, when from Drogba’s back heel, Costa’s strike cannoned off Craig Cathcart and Remy was the driving force to slot the ball in with a right footed finish which gave Bond no chance. Three minutes later, it was plain sailing as the Blues got a third goal as Willian’s pass was put into play from Cesar Azpilicueta’s well placed cross and Zouma rose in the area to send a cushioned header high into the net. The Golden Boys then brought on Almen Abdi for Toszer. But there was still work to do for Cech as he was forced to step back and tip over a long range blast by Vydra. In the final Blues change their captain and talisman Drogba gave way for Nathan Ake while Watford gave a brief run out for Sean Murray in favour of Gianni Munari but Murray was reckless and after pulling down Ramires, Costa drove a free kick against the foot of Bond’s near post in the eighty fourth minute. Near the end, Cathcart bent a ball over the upright as Watford were left to turn their thoughts to the Championship and push for promotion after sampling life with Chelsea at the top level.