Heurelho Gomes 5
It wasn’t his finest afternoon in a Watford shirt. Despite saving comfortably from Eden Hazard in the first half and being alert to take the ball from the feet of an arriving Chelsea attacker in the second, Gomes made a couple of errors that helped the visitors on their way. In the first period, he got in a mix-up with Adlene Guedioura following an uncharacteristic fumble. His error-prone afternoon continued. He raced out to meet Branislav Ivanovic and was relieved when he saw the ball, from the Serbian’s cross, ricochet off Valon Behrami and over his crossbar. But his blushes weren’t spared when, with ten minutes remaining, Gomes parried a Hazard strike straight to the feet of Michy Batshuayi who tucked home. There will be question marks over the second goal too as Diego Costa managed to squeeze the ball under the Brazilian. It was a complete contrast to his man-of-the-match performance with the same opposition in January.
Craig Cathcart 6
A generally sound afternoon for the Northern Ireland international but he probably endured a sleepless night replaying that defence-splitting Cesc Fabregas pass that bisected him and Sebastian Prodl for Chelsea’s winner. He would have been relieved that referee Jon Moss missed a certain handball from a corner that would have given the Blues a penalty. Part of a back three that rendered a talent-laden Chelsea toothless for much of the game but will want Nordin Amrabat to tuck in and be tighter in future.
Sebastian Prodl 7
Probably the best of the back three but should have been tighter to Costa for the winner. He did get touch-tight to the forward early when clearing after Costa got in behind as the Hornets looked for an offside that never came. Prodl is probably the player most under threat from the arrival of Younes Kaboul and like for two thirds of last season, he might have to get used to being in and out of the side.
Miguel Britos 6
Started brilliantly with a delightful clip down the left that gave Jose Holebas a sight of goal. Also dumped Costa on the seat of his pants early on and also told the Brazilian to get up after he took a theatrical tumble that should have earned him a second yellow. Britos covered well for Holebas, who doesn’t like the defensive side of his game nearly as much as the offensive side but did fall asleep in allowing Batshuayi to deliver a dangerous cross across the box that caused havoc at the near post late on.
Nordin Amrabat 7
A revelation in the first two games. Reinventing himself as a right wing-back, Amrabat had a stronger first half than second here, providing pace and incision to threaten a Chelsea back-four that was susceptible to swift raids down the flanks. The Moroccan was involved in Watford’s best move of the first half when he showed terrific persistence to fend off the attention of Cesar Azpilicueta and then delivered a fizzing cross in the vicinity of Odion Ighalo that somehow didn’t end up in the back of the net. Received a standing ovation, from a crowd who love nothing more than a trier, having won a free-kick when confronted by three Chelsea players. Fell away in the second half and undid some fine earlier work with an ill-conceived throw-in that led to the all-important equaliser.
Jose Holebas 6
Fantastic going forward but his end product can be found wanting. Neglected his defensive duties and some of Chelsea’s most dangerous moves came down his side in the space vacated by the marauding Greek international. Britos had to bail him out at Southampton and was required to do so on a couple of occasions here. He did, however, have Watford’s first real opening of the game when his willingness to get forward resulted in a shot that Thibaut Courtois parried at his near post. One of half a dozen who needs to be fitter to enable him to fully execute his duties.
Etienne Capoue 8
What’s that saying about waiting ages for a bus and two come along at once? It is certainly true of Etienne Capoue and his new-found knack for finding the net. The Frenchman made it two in as many games when he latched on to Guedioura’s cross and lashed it beyond the despairing dive of Thibaut Courtois. With his ability, he really should be pushing double figures season after season. He was Watford’s best player again here and it’s clear he is enjoying a more advanced role. He took a whack following a brave tackle on Costa and you have to hope it’s nothing serious.
Adlene Guedioura 5
The acquisition of Roberto Pereyra not only adds further competition for places, but it also leaves several players, including Guedioura, sweating over their futures amid the need to cut the foreign quota. He needed a big performance here but didn’t produce it. He cancelled out his assist for Capoue’s goal by, again, cheaply conceding possession in the build up to the winning goal, playing a blind square pass to Abdoulaye Doucoure that Cesc Fabregas gobbled up and threaded through for Costa. A dejected Guedioura collapsed to the turf. He knew how costly his mistake was.
Valon Behrami 6
He’s still getting up to speed and did not snapping around like he did at, say, Arsenal in the cup last season, but he did reduce the space for the likes of Oscar to work their magic. Did a lot of unheralded dirty work and was pivotal in restricting Chelsea to very little for 70 minutes. He should probably have been replaced as he began to tire. Took issue late on with Fabregas in a flash point and shortly after, found himself in the referee’s notebook.
Odion Ighalo 5
He looks a shadow of the player that was on fire in the first half of last season. He certainly doesn’t look like a striker you’d bid £38m for. Rarely used his speed to directly get in behind and there wasn’t much in the way of chemistry between him and the captain either. It’s a positive sign Watford have twice taken the lead this season from a source other than the front two but Deeney and Ighalo aren’t striking the same type of fear they used to into opposition defences. Ighalo also appeared to unnecessarily berate Guedioura after Chelsea’s winner.
Troy Deeney 5
The captain hasn’t been at his best in the opening two games. His tenacity and work-rate isn’t where it was and he is also struggling to get off the ground and be the feared presence in the air he was last season. He will, hopefully, get fitter in the coming weeks but Watford really needed their captain to hit the ground running for this tough start to the season.
Vicarage Road finally caught a glimpse of Doucoure for the first time but he should have been introduced long before to provide energy in the middle of the park. He only came on because Capoue couldn’t continue.
Juan Camilo Zuniga
One of two players to come on after Chelsea got their noses in front. Why Mazzarri didn’t make alterations earlier with Watford tiring is anyone’s guess. Didn’t have enough time to make an impact. Poor game management from the head coach who reacted too late.
It was good to see Vydra get a few minutes but his future remains up in the air, much as it did this time last year. Many Watford supporters in the Sir Elton John Stand wanted his introduction a lot sooner. His pace would have threatened Chelsea in behind and given John Terry and Gary Cahill something else to think about.