WATFORD, England – Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea lost 4-1 on Monday to Watford, the Blues’ second straight league defeat and the hosts’ first triumph of 2018.
The decision by new Watford coach Javi Gracia to advance his lines created enormous problems for Chelsea.
Chelsea’s stumbles in its own end created openings for Richarlison and Gerard Deulofeu, playing for Watford on loan from Barcelona, and the pressure pushed Blues midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko to commit fouls that saw him sent off in the 30th minute for a second yellow card.
With his side down to 10 men, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois came out against an onrushing Deulofeu and drew a foul. Troy Deeney stepped to the line and made it 1-0 for the home side in the 42nd minute.
Though the Blues made adjustments, it took them until the 82nd to pull level, thanks to an outstanding individual effort by Eden Hazard.
And instead of signaling a Chelsea comeback, the equalizer turned out to be the prelude to a Watford onslaught that produced three goals in less than 10 minutes.
Daryl Janmaat struck first, in the 84th minute, followed in the 88th by Deulofeu, while Roberto Pereyra delivered the final blow in stoppage time.
Chelsea, with 50 points from 26 matches, is in third place, trailing Liverpool by a point. Watford climbed to 30 points and sits 11th in the Premier League table.