Watford vs Chelsea preview: How to watch, kick off time, team news, predicted lineups and ones to watch
(Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

High-flying Chelsea travel to Watford's Vicarage Road on Wednesday night for a London derby under the lights in the Premier League as the busy festive period gets going.

Both sides have had contrasting seasons so far, battling for wildly different positions in the table, but with over a third of the season now played, each game is starting to matter more and more.

For the home side, it's been a tumultuous four months since the start of the campaign, sacking manager Xisco after just seven games before appointing Leicester City legend Claudio Ranieri.

The Italian got off to a rough start with a 5-0 loss to Liverpool, but has had some big results including a certain 4-1 thrashing of Manchester United which led to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer losing his job.

Speaking of Man United, they were one of just four teams to take points off of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea this season with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on a bitterly cold Sunday night.

It was Jorginho's error that led to the United opener, but with the midfielder picking up third place in the Ballon d'Or on Monday evening, the Blues' quality ought not to be underestimated.

Team News

Watford

Ahead of the game, the club published the latest team news, stating: 'Ismaila Sarr has a knee ligament injury which will require a further scan [...] Nicolas Nkoulou will be sidelined until into the new year [...] Ben Foster will be out of action until January [...] Emmanuel Dennis is a doubt.'

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The Hornets have a fairly serious injury crisis going on currently, with Ben Foster out with a groin strain, Ismaila Sarr absent due to a knee injury and Emmanuel Dennis as a result of an ankle problem, among others.

It wasn't going to be easy for the home side even with an entirely clean bill of health, but the mounting concerns of player's fitness issues will do nothing to improve their already slim chances in this one.

Chelsea

Prior to the match, Tuchel told the media: '[Romelu Lukaku] is ready to progress in minutes. For sure out is Chilly [Ben Chilwell], Kova [Mateo Kovacic] and N'Golo [Kante]. We have some doubts of players [...] Reece James, Jorgi [Jorginho] and Timo [Werner] [...] they are all last minute decisions.'

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In comparison to Watford's situation over injuries, the West London's crisis isn't quite so dire, especially given the wealth of backup options, but being without the likes of N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic in midfield is still a big loss.

Ben Chilwell's long-term ACL injury is also a concern, as is the fact there are an extra three doubtful players to contend with, though the potential return of Romelu Lukaku gives some reason for optimism after his extended spell on the sidelines.

Predicted Lineups

Watford (4-1-4-1):

Bachmann; Femenia, Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, Rose; Louza; Hernandez, Kucka,  Sissoko, Bonaventure; King

Chelsea (3-4-3):

Mendy; Azpiliceuta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Pulisic

Form Guide

Watford

Watford have had a mixed bag of recent form, winning two and losing three of their last five, though those two victories have included a combined nine goals scored showing their potency on the attack.

However, it's in the defence where their issues primarily lie, conceding the third-most goals in the division, with the ball ending up in the back of their net 24 times so far - an average of 1.8 times every game.

Chelsea

In contrast to their opponents, keeping clean sheets has become something of a habit for Tuchel's team, only conceding five times all season thanks to a rock solid defence.

However, while they may be top of the league, it doesn't mean they don't have weaknesses, as was evidenced against Man United, with them only converting a single one of their 24 shots - and that in itself was from the penalty spot - signalling their issues scoring goals.

Ones To Watch

Josh King

In any team fighting to stay in the Premier League, a reliable goalscorer is an absolutely invaluable asset to have, and the Hornets have just that in the form of Josh King, signed from Everton in the summer transfer window.

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The Norwegian has scored five goals in 12 appearances, and while there are two other players at the club with the same record (Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis), both of them are out injured so the focus is firmly on King.

He has also picked up two assists, and while it took the 29-year-old a little while to get going in Watford colours, a goal in each of his previous two games suggests his form is beginning to pick up again.

Romelu Lukaku

Moving onto another striker, and this one comes in the form of Chelsea's club record signing Romelu Lukaku, who has had a slightly fragmented first few months back at his old club.

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The Belgian made his presence felt instantly in his first appearance, scoring against London rivals Arsenal, before netting two against Aston Villa a few games later in his 'second debut' at the Bridge.

Since then however, owing primarily to a month-long injury absence, the 28-year-old has had very few opportunities to prove his worth, but after a brief cameo at the weekend, he'll hope to return to his goalscoring from which he showed so often in Italy.

Previous Five Meetings

Looking at the overall record between these two teams, it's fair to say that Chelsea have been the dominant team throughout history, winning 21 of the 37 meetings since they first clashed in 1970.

Moving closer to the modern day, it doesn't make for much prettier reading if you are a Watford fan, with the Hornets most recently defeating their London rivals back in February 2018.

At the time Antonio Conte was struggling in his second season as Chelsea boss, while Javi Gracia was in charge of the home side, having taken over just a couple of weeks before the game.

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It ended up being a famous win for Watford, as they thrashed the Blues 4-1 in a game which signalled the beginning of the end of the relationship between Conte and Chelsea, even if he didn't depart the club until five months later.

Since that result though, it's been a steady stream of Chelsea victories, the first of which came on Boxing Day in 2018, this time with Maurizio Sarri in the dugout for the Blues.

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He watched on as Eden Hazard scored both goals in a 2-1 victory, including a sublime finish where he rounded Ben Foster for his 100th goal for the club.

The following May it was a meeting at Stamford Bridge, but the venue didn't change the outcome in the end, as Chelsea won 3-0, ultimately securing a top four finish and with it Champions League football for the following season.

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Three second half goals proved to be the difference that day, which also coincided with Gary Cahill's final home appearance after seven years with the club.

Two new managers were at the helm for both clubs the next time they went up against one another, though for Quique Sanchez Flores it was to be a very brief stint, only surviving two months in the job.

Frank Lampard lasted a little longer, and would've been pleased to see academy graduate Tammy Abraham and newly-signed winger Christian Pulisic get on the scoresheet that day.

Finally, back in the surreal post-lockdown period of football of July 2020, it was another commanding Chelsea performance, with them running out 3-0 winners in the end.

It was a result which pushed the hosts ever-closer to their main aim of a top four finish, which they did go on to secure, giving them the right to play in the Champions League in the 2021/22 season.

How To Watch

Those in the UK can catch this game, and all the others in this midweek set of Premier League fixtures, on Amazon Prime Video as the streaming service has the rights to each of the ten upcoming games.

Kick-off is scheduled to be at 7:30 PM GMT, with coverage set to get underway a little earlier than that on Wednesday night.

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