Belfast Telegraph

Conte says he got it wrong as Blues are hammered

Watford 4-1 Chelsea

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Antonio Conte's future as Chelsea boss was cast into further doubt as his 10 men were thrashed 4-1 by Watford last night.

The Blues, who lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth last week, were poor again at Vicarage Road and had Tiemoue Bakayoko sent off inside half an hour.

Troy Deeney scored a penalty in the closing stages of the first half but Chelsea stayed in the contest and equalised through a magnificent Eden Hazard goal.

The visitors were not level for long, however, as Daryl Janmaat scored his own memorable effort before Gerard Deulofeu, man of the match on his home debut, and substitute Roberto Pereyra rounded off the win.

Conte had called on Chelsea's hierarchy to "prepare a statement... to say they trust me in my work" ahead of the game but it was another dismal evening for the defending champions, who are now 19 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

"Our performance was very bad from the start," Conte said. "It's a difficult moment, when you lose 3-0 against Bournemouth and then (4-1) against Watford.

"I tried to warn everyone about the difficulty of our task, and the difficulty in the league to find a place in the Champions League, but now we are facing a lot of difficulty.

"Maybe I made a mistake in the starting XI today. My choices were very poor, I think, because our start was very poor."

Asked about his future, Conte added: "It is not my problem. I try to do my job and I try to put everything in my job, if this is enough it is okay, otherwise they can take their position."

Bakayoko was enduring another dismal display in a Chelsea shirt and was booked for bringing down Etienne Capoue. His evening came to an abrupt end as a second yellow for a crude foul on Richarlison saw him dismissed.

Mike Dean awarded a penalty to the hosts when Thibaut Courtois closed down the onrushing Deulofeu, with the Barcelona loanee going down under minimal contact.

Deeney stuck home the resulting spot-kick to give the Hornets a deserved half-time lead.

Chelsea's equaliser was as brilliant as it was unexpected, Hazard dancing past Capoue before finishing perfectly past Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis from 25 yards.

Watford responded well and were back in front two minutes later as Janmaat collected the ball on the right before jinking into the box, exchanging passes with Pereyra and firing home.

With Chelsea committing bodies forward, Deulofeu led a counter-attack which he started and finished with a well-taken strike, with Pereyra adding insult to injury with a fourth in added time as Watford won in the league for the first time since Boxing Day.

WATFORD: Karnezis, Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas, Janmaat, Capoue, Doucoure, Zeegelaar, Deulofeu (Carrillo 89), Richarlison (Pereyra 65), Deeney (Gray 90).

Subs not used: Ndong, Lukebakio, Bachmann, Mukena.

Booked: Richarlison,Prodl

Goals: Deeney (42 pen), Janmaat (84), Deulofeu (88), Pereyra (90)

CHELSEA: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Zappacosta, Willian (Fabregas 34), Pedro (Giroud 64), Hazard.

Subs not used: Caballero, Rudiger, Drinkwater, Emerson, Hudson-Odoi.

Sent Off: Bakayoko (30)

Booked: Bakayoko, Luiz, Fabregas

Goals: Hazard (82)

Attendance: 20,157

Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)

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