Previously v Chelsea
The homecoming of champions can rarely have been this thrilling. An absurdly entertaining occasion littered with smartly taken goals, bouts of cringe-worthy defending, some late snarl that left Watford depleted and bickering among themselves and a mischievous Diego Costa leaving the bench to pilfer some citrus fruit ended with Antonio Conte wearing a plastic crown on the pitch. The Italian conducted a delighted audience as the fireworks boomed and the tickertape fluttered down all around. If only every night in this arena was this giddy.
If there was ever a sign that John Terry had given all he had to give at Chelsea, Monday night’s victory with Watford was just that, as he went from the familiar role of hero to the equally familiar role of villain and back again.
This kind of doesn’t need an intro does it? Whether you’ve been experiencing the last few months by attending games or watching on from greater distance you can’t have been looking forward to this. Chelsea’s title having been confirmed on Friday didn’t help matters at all… it removed the final straw to be clung to, the one where there might be a nagging nervousness in the home stands, something that still needed sorting if we could just hold out for 20 minutes or so.
Following yet another away defeat on Friday night, you would have been forgiven for giving our final away game of the season against newly crowned Premier League champions, Chelsea, a miss. Given also that the game was broadcast live on television on a Monday night, Watford were now mathematically safe and had nothing to play for and had also failed to score away from home since January, it was hard to see any appeal of going at all.