Ups and downs for Chelsea's John Terry against Watford in rare start
Chelsea's first match as newly crowned Premier League champions was won 4-3 in an entertaining clash with Watford.
With neither team having anything tangible to play for, both sides could have been forgiven for taking it easy. As it was, the crowd were treated to plenty of goalmouth action as a much-changed Chelsea side tried to play their party tricks. The opening goal was a scrappy affair but was celebrated inside Stamford Bridge as if it were a 30-yard pile driver as club captain John Terry bundled home from a corner. His joy was short-lived, as moments later an ill-judged header from the veteran allowed Etienne Capoue to nod over a stranded Asmir Begovic. But the jovial atmosphere inside the ground was undiminished, and they were rewarded when cult hero Cesar Azpilicueta finished expertly from the edge of the area to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead at half-time.
The match continued in the same fashion after the break, with Michy Batshuayi scoring for the second game running. Back came Watford as Daryl Janmaat scored an excellent solo goal before Stefano Okaka stunned the hosts by firing home an equaliser. Chelsea would not be denied, though, and forced a winner through substitute Cesc Fabregas in the 88th minute.
To win a game in such fashion despite several changes was good to see, as was the application from all involved in what was essentially a meaningless match. Batshuayi's knack of being in the right place at the right time was also encouraging.
With an unfamiliar back three in front of an underused goalkeeper, perhaps it wasn't surprising that Chelsea's defence looked highly suspect. Conceding three sloppy goals compounded their evening.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Antonio Conte rested most of his big guns and still came away with three points in yet another display of his Midas touch. His introduction of Fabregas ultimately won Chelsea the game.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Asmir Begovic, 7 -- Was beaten three times but could not be faulted for any of them. Had no other saves of note to make.
DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- Still struggling to regain his form from before his long-term injury but didn't lack for effort. Was economical with his use of the ball, which was sensible given his deficiency in that area.
DF John Terry, 6 -- Afforded a rare start, the legend looked to be living the fairy tale when he broke the deadlock from close range. Unfortunately it was his error that led to the equaliser, not that anybody of a Blue persuasion really cared.
DF Nathan Ake, 6 -- Did not have the best game defensively and was ponderous for Watford's second and third goals. Contributed at the other end, though, with his control and pass setting up Batshuayi for his goal.
MF Kenedy, 6 -- Didn't lack for effort but failed to have a decisive impact on the game. Was withdrawn as Chelsea went in search of a winner.
MF Cesar Azpilicueta , 8 -- Not as dynamic in the role as Victor Moses but still scored a well-taken goal to underline his versatility. Having got the taste for glory, he subsequently had two further efforts, including one dipping volley from 20 yards.
MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- Back in the team after injury, the player of the year was his usual nuisance self. Even channelled his inner Fabregas by playing a wonderful lofted long pass to Eden Hazard, who fired just past the post.
MF Nathaniel Chalobah , 7 -- Looked classy on the ball to hint at a future in the first team. Was not always as rugged in the tackle as he could have been.
FW Willian, 8 -- A stylish operator, the Brazilian was the most influential player on the pitch. His touch and movement were beautiful to behold and he crowned his display by setting up the winner.
FW Eden Hazard, 7 -- Could have taken the night off but was still his impish self. Had few strikes at goal as he spent most of his time trying to tee up his teammates.
FW Michy Batshuayi, 7 -- Rewarded with a start after his heroics at The Hawthorns, the striker took full advantage by notching his third goal of the season. With confidence consequently coursing through his veins, he stung the palms of Heurelho Gones twice more before the end of the game.
MF Ola Aina, NR -- Looked a more natural fit than Kenedy at wing-back. Tested Gomes with a curling shot.
MF Cesc Fabregas, NR -- It's almost unfair to be able to bring on a player of the Spaniard's calibre. He won the game with a wonderfully controlled strike.
FW, Pedro Rodriguez NR -- Was strangely targeted by Watford, who were upset after Sebastian Prodl was dismissed late on for an agricultural challenge upon him.
Phil is one of ESPN's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.