Michy Batshuayi gets 9/10 from bench after rescuing Chelsea vs. Watford
Chelsea came back from 2-1 down to beat Watford 4-2 in a frenetic encounter at Stamford Bridge. Pedro opened the scoring for the Blues with a world-class strike in the 12th minute but the visitors refused to lay down and hit back with goals either side of the break.
Abdoulaye Doucoure beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post to level in first-half stoppage time and, when Roberto Pereyra put the visitors ahead, it looked like Chelsea, whose defending was at times shambolic, might be heading to a third straight Premier League defeat.
Blues boss Antonio Conte's decision to replace Alvaro Morata with Michy Batshuayi on the hour mark proved pivotal as the Belgium international equalised with a fine header. Buoyed with renewed enthusiasm, Chelsea took the game to Watford and wrapped up the points with goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and a second from Batshuayi.
The spirit and commitment displayed by much-maligned striker Batshuayi when he entered the fray proved infectious. From the moment he levelled and peeled away to celebrate, the mood lifted, not only among Chelsea's players but the home crowd as well. Conte badly needed a morale-boosting victory, and at the final whistle, it was party time like it was for much of last season.
Chelsea's defending was woeful. Yet again, without N'Golo Kante there to shield them, the centre-back trio looked exposed. The number of times Watford got in behind the back line was embarrassing and had Richarlison not been extraordinarily wasteful, the visitors could have been out of sight long before Batshuayi and Azpilicueta turned the game on its head.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- October has been a tough month for Conte and, when Chelsea went 2-1 down, there was little or no evidence to suggest it was going to get any better. Replacing Morata with Batshuayi looked like a gamble but it paid handsomely for the manager, who was cheered to the rafters as his side subsequently surged to victory.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Hardly involved during the first half with the exception of a decent save from a Tom Cleverley free kick, Courtois failed to close a tight angle when beaten by Doucoure at his near post. With a disorganised defence in front of him, he had little chance with Pereyra's goal and must be thankful Watford failed to capitalise on further chances as he was continually left exposed.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 4 -- He made some decent early tackles, but as the task of shackling Richarlison became progressively difficult -- he was booked for fouling the Brazilian in the first half -- he lost his composure in the second period as Watford repeatedly cut Chelsea's defence to ribbons. Lucky not to be sent off.
DF David Luiz, 4 -- Guilty of going missing for a 20-minute period in the second half when Watford took a lead that could easily have been extended but for poor finishing. Luiz struggled with the pace and inventiveness of the away side's forward play and must be relieved that the final score worked out in Chelsea's favour.
DF Gary Cahill, 4 -- The final score owed little to Cahill's leadership. Defensively poor, when Watford took the lead the Chelsea skipper didn't rally his troops in the way John Terry would have done. Like Luiz, Cahill will be grateful that the Blues victory will spare him a slating for another poor performance.
MF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 -- He has toiled of late in the centre-back role and looked far more assured playing at right wing-back in place of the injured Victor Moses. Deserves great credit for the way he sprinted in and coolly headed home substitute Willian's cross to give Chelsea a decisive late lead.
MF Marcos Alonso, 5 -- A patchy game at left wing-back for the Spaniard, who saw little of the ball before being replaced by Willian in the 68th minute.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 7 -- His Premier League education continued at pace; for the opening hour the 23-year-old France international found himself mired between a defence that couldn't defend and a misfiring attack. Never shy of getting involved, Bakayoko did his best to win back possession and teed up Batshuayi's second goal.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 6 -- For all his neat touches and link-up play with Eden Hazard and Pedro, Fabregas cannot replace not the desperately-missed Kante and his inability to provide adequate cover for Chelsea's back line was all too evident in a 20-minute second-half period when Watford dominated.
FW Pedro, 8 -- Pedro's fantastic opening strike was Chelsea's 8000th goal in all competitions and fitting of such a landmark. He bristled with energy and intent and, until Batshuayi's introduction, was the go-to player for goalscoring chances. Replaced late on by Davide Zappacosta.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- One of the most encouraging sights for Conte and Chelsea supporters alike was Hazard taking on Watford's back line and getting up repeatedly each time he was cynically hacked down. The Belgium international, who provided the assist for Pedro's goal, looks to be back to peak fitness.
FW Alvaro Morata, 4 -- There was a question mark about Morata's all-round fitness going into the game and the Spain international, who recently returned from a hamstring injury, looked out of sorts for the hour he was on the pitch.
FW Michy Batshuayi, 9 -- Cometh the hour, cometh the man -- literally in the case of Batshuayi, who entered the fray on the hour mark and transformed the game. Heavily criticised in recent weeks, he took the heat off Conte with two goals. His outstanding mental attitude rubbed off on his teammates and helped win the day for Chelsea.
FW Willian, 7 -- Gave Chelsea an added creative dimension when replacing Alonso and put in the telling cross that Azpilicueta converted for the all-important third goal.
MF Davide Zappacosta, NR -- Brought added energy when replacing Pedro late on.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco