Chelsea travel to Vicarage Road to face Watford in a London derby. Ordinarily, that should have been the biggest selling point for this game, ‘London derby’, and even at that, it is far from being the biggest derby in London.
So then, what makes this game so special besides it being the meeting of teams managed Italians?
Well, that is actually what makes this game one to watch out for. No, not just because both sides are managed by Italians, but because of the particular Italians involved: Walter Mazzari and Antonio Conte.
It has recently come to light that both men don’t see eye-to-eye but why would that be? Well, you guessed wrong. Both men are feuding over a formation! Yes, you read right, over a FORMATION – the 3-5-2 formation.
However, as we look forward to both Italian managers strutting their stuff on the touchline, let’s take a look at how both teams have fared against each other in recent games.
Brice Dja Djedje is a doubt for the Hornets as he is yet to fully recover from a foot injury, while Ben Watson is suspended after he was sent off on the opening day.
Striker Isaac Success is also another doubt, after only returning to training on Wednesday from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the draw with Southampton.
Kurt Zouma remains the only player out with injury, as there are no fresh concerns over injuries at Stamford Bridge.
Juan Cuadrado is however expected to be exempted from this one as he gets set to seal another loan move to Juventus.
Head to Head
Chelsea has a superior record over their hosts in the last five games and remain unbeaten against them within that period, as they have won three of those and the other two have ended in draws.
Watford have scored just three goals in their last five meetings, while Chelsea have 13 in the same number of games.
This fixture last season ended in a 0-0 draw.
Both sides have actually only met each three times at Watford’s Vicarage Road Stadium in the Premier League and it has been W1 D1 L1. Watford’s sole win was in September 1999.
Salomon Kalou is the only Chelsea player to have scored on all three visits to Vicarage Road in the Premier League.
Antonio Conte has lost just one of his last 31 league games as a club manager (W28 D2).
As stated earlier, there usually are goals when both teams play each other, with 16 goals having been scored between them in their last five games.
As earlier explained, Walter Mazzari doesn’t see eye-to-eye to his compatriot at Chelsea over accusations the latter ‘stole’ his 3-5-2 formation when they both worked in the Serie A. Like Conte, Mazzari is also new to the Premier League and will be looking to get one over his adversary after starting life in England with a 1-1 draw with Southampton last weekend.
Unlike Mazzari, however, Conte started his reign at Chelsea with a win, albeit a last gasp winner by Diego Costa against West Ham. While his feud with his compatriot will not be playing in his mind once the game begins, he must be hoping to beat the former Napoli boss again, and continue Chelsea’s good start to the season.
What are the managers saying?
Walter Mazzarri, Watford – “I don’t know whether it will be easier [because Chelsea are still adapting to Conte’s style]. We know they have a very good team, but we will see after the game how difficult it is for us.”
Antonio Conte, Chelsea – “It won’t be an easy game tomorrow because Watford are a solid team with good players. We must pay a lot of attention tomorrow. It is a dangerous game. We must send the right message for our confidence & our work.
“We played a good game against West Ham with great intensity and concentration. There was a great will to win. We must maintain this mentality and this will to win. It’s important if we want a good season.”