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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Title celebrations could take the edge off champions Chelsea

Watford can find the net

Chelsea won the title on Friday
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports 1, 8pm Monday 

Champions Chelsea have showed a professional attitude throughout the season but even they may not be fully focused on the task of beating Watford at Stamford Bridge.

A party atmosphere is guaranteed and, in an ideal world for Blues fans, the occasion would be complemented by a thumping home victory.

However, there are doubts over the condition of their players, who will be asked to go again just three days after their hard-fought 1-0 success at West Brom.

Friday's matchwinner Michy Batshuayi was quick to demonstrate his professionalism, posting a picture of himself working out in the gym on social media the morning after Chelsea's victory at the Hawthorns.

But there is no way of knowing how the rest of the Blues' players have spent the weekend.

The markets anticipate a dip in Chelsea's performance.

After Friday night's events the odds on a home victory eased from a best-priced 1-6 to 1-4.

Watford haven't won at the Bridge since May 1986 but since Chelsea's title triumph the Hornets' win price has shortened from 20-1 to 12-1 on Betfair's exchange.

There is a recent precedent for Chelsea easing off the gas after winning the league.

In the 2014-15 campaign, Jose Mourinho's Blues side sealed top spot with three games left but their performances deteriorated in the games that followed with Chelsea drawing 1-1 at home to Liverpool and losing 3-0 at West Brom before signing off with a 3-1 victory at home to Sunderland.

Even if Chelsea are below par it is doubtful whether Watford can play well enough to take advantage.

Since reaching the desired 40-point survival target, Watford's players seem to have been more focused on planning their summer holidays than winning football matches.

They have lost four in a row, their worst losing sequence of the season, and also have injury problems to contend with.

Walter Mazzarri is without four injured central defenders (Younes Kaboul, Miguel Britos, Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele) and doesn't have the right personnel to play a containing strategy.

Watford will probably have to play positively, as they did for large parts of their 1-0 loss at Everton on Friday. They gave a good account of themselves and narrowly lost the shot count 15 to 14.

Mazzarri has some decent attackers to choose from and is likely to hand a recall to Milan loanee M'Baye Niang, a pacy, powerful forward who was once thought to be on the radar of some of Europe's top clubs.

Watford have enough in their armoury to score for the first time in five matches but their injury-ravaged defence will struggle to keep the Blues at bay.

If Antonio Conte decides to mix things up, he has a confident Batshuayi and player of the season N'Golo Kante eager to come into the starting line-up.

Chelsea should get the victory the occasion demands but the away side can play their part in a lively contest which could feature goals at both ends.

Chelsea win and both teams to score
1pt 7-4 Betfair, Coral, Ladbrokes

Bet on this game at

Team news
Antonio Conte may consider changes to the side that triumphed 1-0 at West Brom on Friday. Goalscoring substitute Michy Batshuayi and midfielder N'Golo Kante are among the players pushing to start.

Christian Kabasele (hamstring) has joined Younes Kaboul, Miguel Britos, Craig Cathcart, Roberto Pereyra and Mauro Zarate on the sidelines. Tom Cleverley, who was ineligible to face Everton, should return.

Key stat
Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet in their last six Premier League home games.

If Antonio Conte decides to mix things up, he has a confident Batshuayi and player of the season N'Golo Kante eager to come into the starting line-up
E.W. Terms
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