Antonio Conte’s future as Chelsea boss was cast into further doubt as his 10 men were thrashed 4-1 by Watford on Monday 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 to put Watford back in front before Gerard Deulofeu, man of the match on his home debut, and substitute Roberto Pereyra rounded off the win with breakaway goals to secure an emphatic 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.
Michy Batshuayi and Diego Costa scored the goals in a 2-1 win for Chelsea here last season. That was the second game of a campaign which ended in Premier League glory for the Blues but, like those goalscorers last August, Chelsea’s hopes of retaining their crown are gone.
Either of those strikers would have had a chance of playing here as Conte once again deployed Hazard as Chelsea’s main attacking option with new signing Olivier Giroud warming the bench.
Deulofeu was lively in the early exchanges and sent a shot into Thibaut Courtois’ side-netting after being picked out inside the box.
Bakayoko was enduring another dismal display in a Chelsea shirt and was booked for bringing down Etienne Capoue inside the Chelsea half before Pedro hit a post on a rare Chelsea foray forward – only to see a free-kick given for handball against Victor Moses in the build-up.
The challenge became harder for Conte and his players when Bakayoko’s evening came to an abrupt end as a second yellow card for a crude foul on Richarlison saw him dismissed by referee Mike Dean.
It continued to go from bad to worse for the Italian as Dean awarded a penalty to the hosts when Courtois burst from his line to close down the onrushing Deulofeu, with the Barcelona loanee going down under minimal contact.
Deeney, whose only previous league goals this season were penalties against Arsenal and Manchester United, stuck home the resulting spot-kick to give the Hornets a deserved half-time lead.
Chelsea were brighter after the restart but the numerical advantage often helped Watford out and they soon started to create chances, Deulofeu curling a shot wide before David Luiz, booked moments earlier, gifted possession to the hosts only for Richarlison to also narrowly miss the target.
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 keeping his cool to finish past Courtois.
With Chelsea committing bodies forward, Deulofeu capitalised to lead 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.
Chelsea were humbled in a 4-1 defeat away to Watford at Vicarage Road on Monday night.
Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for a second booking in the first half of the the Premier League clash, reducing the visitors to ten men.
Barcelona loanee Gerard Deulofeu inspired the hosts to a huge win, scoring the third goal in the rout.
Troy Deeney converted from the spot after the Spaniard won a penalty before Eden Hazard equalised with less than 10 minutes to play.
However, Watford rallied with Daryl Janmaat, Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra finding the back of the net.
Here, we rate the Chelsea players.
THIBAUT COURTOIS: Commanded his box and dealt with Watford’s aerial threat but was beaten for pace by Deulofeu and conceded the penalty. Well beaten for the following three goals. 4
CESAR AZPILICUETA: Had his hands full with Richarlison causing all sorts of problems but more or less kept pace with the Brazilian. The mayhem came down the other side of defence though. 4
GARY CAHILL: Couldn’t keep up with Deulofeu and was beaten over and over again. Did make a couple of decent blocks and interceptions though. Janmaat got away from him and scored too easily before Deulofeu did the same. 2
DAVID LUIZ: Struggled against Deulofeu as well and had the ball stolen off him by Troy Deeney from which Richarlison fired just wide. Booked for a reckless challenge. 3
VICTOR MOSES: Provided plenty of width down the right and tracked back well but his final ball was lacking. 4
TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO: A loose back-pass early on could’ve proved costly if Deulofeu managed a better touch. Lost possession to Abdoulaye Doucoure soon after that led to another chance for the Spaniard. Consistently lost the ball and two yellows for late challenges saw him sent off in the 31st minute. Nightmare display. 1
N’GOLO KANTE: Was average at best. Made a few tackles and interceptions but was matched for legs in midfield by Doucoure and Etienne Capoue while Watford’s best forays forward were around him down the sides. 5
PEDRO: Should really have done better with an effort early on but blazed it over the bar. Gave the ball away too often and was replaced in the 63rd minute. 4
DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA: Didn’t look at ease on the left side, failing to provide width down that flank. Managed zero crosses and wasn’t able to help Cahill deal with Deulofeu. 3
EDEN HAZARD: Did create Chelsea’s best chance with Cesc Fabregas’ strike straight at the keeper with 10 minutes to go. Had few touches in the game but equalised his side with a glorious effort from range. Good knock down for Giroud late on. 6
WILLIAN: Had a wayward shot volley early on and was sacrificed for a central midfielder when Bakayoko was sent off. 4
CESC FABREGAS (for Willian 33′): Was overrun in midfield. Had one good chance where he fired straight at the keeper. Couldn’t find his rhythm with his passing. 4
OLIVIER GIROUD (for Pedro 64′): Made an impact when he came on and went close with a late effort but the game was already gone. 5
Confusion reigned on the sidelines at Anfield on Sunday night with the final advice to give the first Tottenham penalty against Liverpool apparently provided by Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen.
In an astonishing four way conversation between referee Jon Moss, linesman Eddie Smart, Liverpool captain Emre Can and Eriksen, the two officials repeatedly said “I don’t know” to the question if Dejan Lovren had touched Dele Alli’s through ball to Harry Kane, thus putting the Spurs playmaker onside.
Neither Moss or Smart have the answer. Moss even admits he has “no idea.”
Eriksen then interjects that Lovren did touch the ball. Moss then asks fourth official Martin Atkinson to check the TV on the sideline – a move he later admitted was wrong to call for.
Moss then decides to award the penalty.
Without input from Atkinson or new information from Smart it may well have been Eriksen’s input that made him point to the spot.
Here is the transcript of the conversation:
Smart: “All I need to know, did Lovren touch the ball?”
Moss: “I don’t know.”
Smart: “If he’s not touched the ball, it is offside, so you’re chalking off the penalty. It has to be offside if Lovren has not touched the ball.”
Christian Eriksen: “He did touch the ball.”
Emre Can: “He didn’t touch the ball.”
Moss (TO SMART): “Just talk to me again.”
Smart: “You know what I’m asking; I need to clarify, has Lovren touched the ball?
“If he has, it’s a deliberate action and, therefore, it’s a penalty. If he has not, it is offside.”
Moss: “I have no idea whether Lovren touched the ball to be honest with you.
Martin, have you got anything from TV? I’m giving the penalty.”
Moss then pointed to the spot send Liverpool players and fans into meltdown.
Understandably Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was fuming after the game and accused match officials for wanting to be centre of attention.
“Did you ever hear? I am not allowed to go in their room until half an hour after,” he raged.
“It was clear offside, unbelievable, I don’t know what they were discussing.”
In one of the year’s most incident filled encounters Tottenham went on to snatch a draw thanks to another controversial penalty after Virgil van Dijk was adjudged to have kicked Erik Lamela from behind.