Champions Swat Hornets
The newly-crowned champions were given a stern warning about their complecency, as they were brought to the limit by a plucky Watford side, 4-3. Captain John Terry opened up the scoring after pouncing on the loose ball. Etienne Capoue would draw the sides level after taking advantage of a Terry miscue. Cesar Azpilicueta would retake the advantage with a shot from the edge of the box. Michy Batshuayi would score a sitter after a good passing sequence for the Blues. Daryl Janmaat would pull one back with an excellent individual run from the left side. Stefano Okaka would draw the sides level after taking advantage of some defensive miscues. Cesc Fabregas would score the final goal of the match with a volley from the edge of the box.
Having already won the title, Antonio Conte decided on a massive reshuffle to allow the fringe players their moment in the spotlight. Asmir Begovic will not be playing second fiddle tonight and gets called up for the goalkeeping duties with the highly unusual defensive trio of Kurt Zouma, John Terry and Nathan Ake providing him cover. Cesar Azpilicueta goes to a more natural role at the right at wingback with Kenedy manning the other flank. N’Golo Kante returns to the lineup after a thigh injury to patrol the central midfield with Nathaniel Chalobah. Willian, Eden Hazard and title-winning goalscorer Michy Batshuayi gets to make a Premier League start in this 3-4-3 formation.
Captain Fantastic has been elegantly leading the troops from the sidelines this season but you can always count on John Terry to deliver. Willian delivered a corner towards a packed penalty box with both Terry and Kurt Zouma rising to meet the ball. Zouma manages to nudge the ball into Terry’s path and the English veteran was the quickest to pounce on the ball and stab it home for the opener and probably the closer on his career.
But probably showing the sign of the times, Terry converts his moment of glory into that of utter embarrassment. A speculative long ball to Etienne Capoue was easily dealt with by his marker in Nathan Ake, with Terry there to make a clearing header. But the grizzled statesman makes a total hash of his header and ends up playing the ball back deeper into his own penalty area. Capoue took no further convincing as he soared to meet Terry’s unintentional setup and head the ball beyond Asmir Begovic’s reach.
Cesar Azpilicueta seems to relish having the license to go forward for a change. Eden Hazard delivered a corner aimed at the near post but Daryl Janmaat was there to intercept the balls trajectory with a header. The ball doesn’t go that far though as it only ended up at the opposite end of the penalty area were Azpilicueta was waiting. The Spanish wingback took one touch and snipes for the far post, evading the sea of humanity in the box and Heurelho Gomes’ reach to regain the advantage.
This season’s nearly men combine in a display of their potential. A short corner ends up with Kenedy who was posted on the opposite end yards away from the box. He slips as he attempts his pass. His balance may have been off but his deflected pass was perfectly weighted allowing Willian to control it with one touch and square it to Michy Batshuayi. With Gomes driven out of position due to Willian’s brilliant movement, the Belgian striker had an open goal from a distance that anyone would consider to be a sitter. The rarely used striker now finds himself having scored in two straight matches.
With this defensive display, it looks really justified why Conte has been rather recalcitrant with his preferred starting lineup. After managing to retain possession, M’baye Niang manages to hand the ball over to Daryl Janmaat while being seated on the ground. Janmaat goes on a forward run and manages to squeeze through the defensive sandwich of Kurt Zouma and Nathaniel Chalobah before embarrassing Nathan Ake deep in the penalty area to slot in a shot past Begovic to reduce Watford’s deficit to a goal.
The Hornets look to be a buzzkill to the party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. Tom Cleverly looked to showcase his distribution skills by lumping the ball into the penalty area. After a failed attempt to deal with the cross, it ends up in substitute Stefano Okaka’s feet. The Italian striker then pulls the trigger from a short distance and earns his squad their equalizer.
But the Blues also have a magician of their own coming from the bench. Willian managed to be a recipient of the ball after N’Golo Kante managed to break up the Watford play, But his view was obstructed and he opts to lay it off for Cesc Fabregas, The Spanish midfield strikes the ball on a low volley which completely surprised the defense as it struck towards the near corner.
Chelsea’s second string squad barely managed to hang on and take maximum points. The Blues’ victory party continues as they host the relegated Sunderland in a top and bottom clash in their final EPL fixture of the season.