05-Feb-2018 19:31:03 | The Guardian
“I’ve got to defend Conte for choosing a false 9,” writes Benjamin Park, compelled by a higher force. “You get thrashed 3:0 at home, the following game you might wanna stay with what you know, not experiment with the unknown.”
Team news, then: interesting stuff up top for both sides, as Watford start with Troy Deeney, who at one point looked like he was doing one to pastures elsewhere, while new boy Ged Deulofeu starts, with Richarlison completing the three. Chelsea’s fresh recruits - Olly Giroud and Emerson Palmieri - are both on the bench, Conte preferring the old false nine of Eden Hazard, in the absence of Al Morata.
Seems reasonable, although not everyone is impressed...
Search under every seedy little rock for a striker, find one after taking part in a transfer circus involving two other clubs, then put him on the bench and play with a false 9 instead. Shows how much faith you have in your new signing.
Karnezis; Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas, Janmaat; Capoue, Doucoure, Zeegelaar; Deulofeu, Richarlison, Deeney. Subs: Ndong, Gray, Lukebakio, Carrillo, Bachmann, Pereyra, Mukena.
Of all the managers in the Premier League, who do you think would be the least bothered if he got sacked? Jose Mourinho could move out of the Deluxe Travel Tavern, I guess. Javi Gracia probably knows it’s coming in the next 9-12 months anyway. Sam Allardyce could top up his furious sense of grievance against the world and all that have wronged him. And then there’s Antonio Conte.
The accepted wisdom is that Conte will probably leave Chelsea in the summer anyway, sick to his very back teeth of the machinations at Stamford Bridge, not getting the players he ever wants and suffering the indignity of having to manage Ross Barkley. Plus, as is entirely understandable, maybe he just wants to go home.
I must be honest, there were these type of rumours and speculation [that he might be sacked] even after the first game of the season when we lost against Burnley,” Conte said. “Maybe I’d like the club to prepare a statement for me, no? To say they trust me in my work and my job.
“But, at the same time, I know this never happened in the past, so why should I hope for something different? But, for sure, I’d like to have a statement of support against this speculation. The challenge is that, in the past, this never happened. So it’s a big challenge [for the board] to change the approach now. But, for sure, I’d be glad.”
Nick will be here shortly, but in the meantime read Simon Burnton on the position Watford find themselves in before this match:
The reunion with Chelsea on Monday will probably prompt some short‑term nostalgia at Watford. The last time they met, after all, represented – at least for an hour – probably the apogee of the club’s Premier League project, and for all the drama of their league season so far it is possible to pick out a single moment within this single match at which they were at their brightest and best and after which life has never quite been the same.
At Stamford Bridge in October Watford led 2-1, missed a ludicrously straightforward chance to lead 3-1 and generally outplayed their hosts for much of the game. They were a team bursting with attacking threat in the early days of Marco Silva’s leadership, a more convincing and certainly more compelling side than those produced in the club’s two preceding top-flight seasons by Quique Sánchez Flores and Walter Mazzarri.
Related: Javi Gracia faces a Chelsea visit threatening new torment for Watford | Simon Burnton