Jingle bells, Chelsea win away

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Chelsea defend the end where their fans were at Vicarage Road, Watford

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it was to watch Chelsea win away.

Just a shame they couldn’t do it at home too, against Leicester.

It means that the Blues have a devil of a fight on their hands to claw back ground against runaway Liverpool, limp-along Man City and the catch-up kings Tottenham, who are now shaping up to give the Reds a serious challenge.

It feels like Chelsea are just winging it. Without a serious Plan B in his locker, Morrie Sarri turned up at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day evening with exactly the same team and formation that had lost against Leicester at the Bridge… although the Foxes’ win against champions City suggests they’re a stronger force than many had reckoned.

The customary frustration filled the first half, with Willian hitting the foot of the post and Eden Hazard just failing with an inventive flick.

Then, after Pedro had gone off with a left hamstring tweak, to be replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi, and the first half went into stoppage time, everything suddenly happened.

Mateo Kovacic slid the ball across for Hazard, after Etienne Capoue had cheaply lost it in midfield, and the Belgian marvel calmly scored his 100th goal for the Blues.

Chelsea fans at Vicarage Road were still celebrating two minutes later, when a Roberto Pereyra volley – slightly scuffed, but still on target – found its way home for a late equaliser.

The second half saw Chelsea regain the lead in the 58th minute, after Ben Foster in the Hornets’ goal (having an absolute mare of a game with woeful goal kicks and dodgy decision-making) bundled over the little maestro.

Hazard got up to take the spot kick, adding goal 101 to his list.

Chelsea hung on, with Hudson-Odoi mysteriously re-substituted (a hamstring issue was later cited), and given a rousing ‘Oh, Hudson-Odoi’ chorus from the Blues fans.

It was a fair result.

“I want to score more for this club and then try to be a legend like Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and John Terry,” said Hazard afterwards, encouraging everyone in SW6 who was becoming resigned to the little man leaving in the summer. Maybe there’s yet hope he’ll stay, although no one’s holding their breath.

Sarri said of the player: “He┬ácan play in every position. He played very well with two goals, and could have had two or three assists. He can play with team-mates very well.”

So why isn’t he willing to sign up and stay with those team-mates?