PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUT FOR ITALIAN BOSSES, THE STORY SO FAR
Former Italian manager of Chelsea, Antonio Conte experienced a thrilling start to his Premier League career after Diego Costa scored the winner from 20 yards to snatch away all the three points from a defiant Hammers side. Eden Hazard looked sharp as he opened his account for the Blues with a neat penalty while new arrival Michy Batshuayi grabbed an all important assist in their season opener. N’Golo Kante put in a solid performance at the middle of the park despite being booked early on while the Blues displayed a much improved defensive performance following the debacle of last season with the backline of Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill and Ivanovic coming up with a solid performance.
Walter Mazarri started his campaign with a stalemate against the Saints with much positives to be taken as the Hornets move on to their 2nd successive season in the Premier League and prepare for life after Quique Sanchez Flores. The former Inter and Napoli boss deployed a familiar 3-5-2 formation with Hornets midfielder Etienne Capou breaking the deadlock 9 minutes after the kick off, assisted by Captain Deeney. Mazzarri replaced central midfielder Valon Behrami with Watson six minutes after Redmond’s goal, but he was booked for a direct red card after a hard foul on Saints forward Shane Long. With a one-man disadvantage, Watford defended well against the persistent attacks of Redmond and Long in the late minutes to settle for the tie.
20th August 2016, 19:30 IST
Vicarage Road, Watford
HEAD TO HEAD
Last season, the two teams played a 0-0 draw at the Vicarage Road while the Hornets impressed at Stamford bridge securing a 2-2 stalemate on the road.
- Chelsea will be without the services of Kurt Zouma, who continues to recover from a knee injury.
- Marko Van Ginkel will also be unavailable who is nursing a knee injury.
- John Obi Mikel is with the Nigerian olympic team and will also not be available for selection.
- Watford’s club-record signing from Granada, Isaac Success, who missed the club’s draw with Southampton with a leg muscle injury remains a doubt for the upcoming encounter.
- Fellow summer signing Brice Dja Djédjé might miss out the clash with a foot injury.
- Ben Watson is suspended for the game after being sent off against the Saints.
- Mario Suarez, meanwhile, will not feature for the rest of the season after completing a loan move to Valencia.
The two Italian bosses have crossed paths before in the Italian Serie A wherein the former Juventus boss won 4, drew 3 of the 9 encounters against the former Inter and Napoli manager. After a 1-1 draw at San Paolo in March 2013, Conte was asked by the press if he had exchanged words with his Napoli counterpart during the game.
Conte declared, “No, I never spoke with him. Never, never, never. We didn’t even shake hands. I can assure you we didn’t even look at each other. Each to their own bench. It’s better that way.”
It looks to be a spiky affair in the making as both the Italian managers strive to find their feet in arguably the best league on the planet.
- The only Chelsea player to score in their three Premier League trips to Vicarage road was Saloman Kalou, who hit a 90th minute winner in March, 2007.
- Watford shot-stopper Heurelho Gomes has made the most saves (127) and penalty saves (3) in the Premier League since the start of 2015-2016.
- Eden Hazard has scored 5 goals in his last six appearances for the Blues in the Premier League, after going through a barren spell of 29 games without getting his name on the score sheet.
- Skipper Troy Deeney has been involved in 6 of the last 7 goals scored by Watford in the Premier League (4 goals, 2 assists)
- Watford have performed rather well at Vicarage Road lately, having only lost once by a margin of more than one goal last season.
- Conte has lost just one of his last 31 league games as a club manager (Won 28, Draw 2).