It’s not yet 2019, but Wednesday’s Boxing Day fixture against Watford feels like a match that could define Maurizio Sarri’s immediate future at Chelsea.
Saturday’s defeat against Leicester became just another match in which the Italian’s tactical acumen and fitness to be the Chelsea manager has come into question.
The manager certainly hasn’t proven to be the most flexible when it comes to his team selection or the way that his teams play, but the players also need to shoulder some of the blame.
Once again, Chelsea went behind to an opponent during a spell in the second half of a match where they become complacent and found themselves either level or behind and once again failed to produce any sort of comeback.
Against Watford, many Chelsea supporters are hoping to see a changed team with players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek given a chance to play in place of players that seem to be out of form and struggling.
There is a good chance that Loftus-Cheek could be given a chance to start against Watford, but Hudson-Odoi’s involvement is questionable. His talent is certainly unquestionable, but whether his talent and performances in a limited number of matches warrants dropping both Willian and Pedro is something that’s up for debate.
What’s not up for debate is that the experiment of Eden Hazard playing as the main striker doesn’t work against all opposition. Hazard plays better when he’s more involved in all facets of the attack, meaning Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata, who’s back to fitness, is likely to lead the line against Watford.
Watford certainly are not the opponents Chelsea would want to be facing at this moment. The Hornets are seventh in the league at the moment and boast one of the better midfields.
The likes of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capoue, and Roberto Pereyra have a good balance of creativity, energy, and power, along with Pereyra contributing five goals in the Premier League this season to lead Watford’s scoring charts.
If Chelsea drop more points and fail to produce a win against Watford, the pressure on Sarri is certain to increase, and there might be calls for his sacking from some of his supporters.