Kenedy starred in a rare start, while Kai Havertz made his mark as Chelsea battled to a 2-1 win over Watford at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea dominated the game, for the most part, starting from kick-off and deservedly went ahead in the eleventh minute when Kai Havertz scored from the close range. Hakim Ziyech was the architect of the move as he released Kenedy on the left flank before the Brazilian found Havertz inside the Watford box.
Chelsea remained on top of Watford after that, but it was a wonder how they did not go into the break with a bigger lead, with Havertz coming close to scoring again. Watford began the second period as the stronger of the two sides, with Edouard Mendy making a big save to retain his side’s lead.
But the Chelsea defence started to show some cracks as the game wore on, and Watford pulled back on level terms in the 87th minute. Haphazard defending meant the Blues left the right flank wide open, and Adam Masina accepted the invitation to cross the ball for Dan Gosling, who headed in the equaliser.
But there was time for some late drama, as Ross Barkley scored from close range to clinch the three points for Chelsea. The result means the west Londoners have safely secured the third spot on the Premier League table, with Tottenham rounding off the top four after thrashing Norwich City. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Thomas Tuchel’s men.
Our season ends with a win! ✊
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 22, 2022
Edouard Mendy: 7/10
Mendy could not have done much for Watford’s equaliser after the Chelsea defenders sold his short. But the Senegalese goalkeeper made two big saves to ensure Watford did not topple the Blues on Sunday. He has ended the season superbly.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
Azpilicueta was nowhere to be seen when Watford gleefully accepted acres of space on his side. The Chelsea captain failed to mark his area as Adam Masina crossed the ball in for Dan Gosling. But apart from that moment, the Spaniard was a solid customer on and off the ball, completing 93 per cent of his attempted passes while winning five duels. He might have played his final game for Chelsea amid interest from Barcelona.
Thiago Silva: 7/10
Silva does not deserve much blame for the goal Chelsea conceded late on, as he was busy covering Joao Pedro. The Brazilian international was thoroughly professional otherwise, completing several tackles (four), interceptions (two) and clearances (two). He also completed 98 per cent of his attempted passes.
Antonio Rudiger: 7/10
Rudiger was representing Chelsea for the final time on Sunday before joining Real Madrid, and he made sure he produced a colossal performance at the back. The German international won all his contested duels while completing numerous defensive actions. Rudiger went off the pitch midway through the second half to a rousing reception from Chelsea fans.
Reece James: 7/10
16 G/A’s this season for Reece James… ✅
He’s done so in just 31 starts, from wing-back. ? pic.twitter.com/bohO6pPjCR
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) May 22, 2022
James had nearly messed up another professional display by leaving Adam Masina wide open to send in the cross for the equaliser. But the English international quickly made amends by setting up Ross Barkley with a brilliant course. Otherwise, James was a solid customer on and off the ball, completing three key passes while winning a couple of duels.
N’Golo Kante: 7/10
Kante sat deep in the middle of the park instead of having the freedom to charge forward to his liking. But the French international still played two key passes while completing all but three of his attempted passes. Kante also opened up play nicely with a few long balls while producing some crunching tackles. But he switched off when Watford equalised, which was a blip in an otherwise brilliant showing.
Saul Niguez: 7/10
Saul was one of a few players who surprisingly featured for Chelsea against Watford. And the Spaniard was precise with the ball at his feet and linked up superbly with those in front of him. Saul completed an impressive 93 per cent of his attempted passes while putting in the hard yards off the ball, winning 11 duels.
Kenedy's last two Premier League starts for Chelsea:
◎ 15th May 2017 vs. Watford
◉ 22nd May 2022 vs. Watford
Five years apart… same opponent. ? pic.twitter.com/sBJmw2BTV5
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 22, 2022
Kenedy was a surprising member of the starting lineup, but the Brazilian was the standout performer for Chelsea on Sunday. The 26-year-old seemed determined to make things happen and sent in some dangerous crosses from the left flank. He set Havertz up for the opener, but his outing was cut short when he picked up an injury around the hour mark.
Hakim Ziyech: 7/10
Ziyech circulated the possession smartly, completing two key passes. The Moroccan international was the architect of the opening goal, as he threaded the ball towards Kenedy, who set Havertz up for the first strike. Ziyech also came close to scoring twice, but he could not beat Daniel Bachmann.
Kai Havertz: 7/10
Havertz endured a frustrating game, even though he found the back of the net to hand Chelsea the lead against Watford. While the German international did well to score early on, he should have done better to convert the other chances that came his way, particularly the one late in the first half. He faded as the game progressed, and Tuchel should have taken him off.
Kai Havertz has now officially hit 20 G/A’s for Chelsea this season… ✅
Still just 22 years old. ? pic.twitter.com/13QDIFcuKD
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) May 22, 2022
Mason Mount: 7/10
Mount was Chelsea’s chief creator, and he kept things ticking throughout the game. The English international was a bundle of energy and created a couple of openings. He also seemed determined to score a goal, but most of his efforts were off target.
Malang Sarr: 5/10
Sarr replaced Kenedy and slotted in as Chelsea’s left-back in the final half an hour. And the young defender looked comfortable and confident when foraying forward, even creating a chance. But Sarr failed to track Gosling’s run when Watford equalised late in the game.
Ross Barkley: 7/10
Barkley seemed to be an odd substitute, especially with Rudiger going off. But the Englishman delivered the goods as he was in the right place at the right time to head in the match-winner.
Ben Chilwell: N/A
A late introduction, Chilwell barely touched the ball in his comeback game.