Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley got Chelsea’s Champions League bid back on track as they ramped up the pressure on relegation-threatened Watford.
Although victory looked like it might have come at a price for Frank Lampard as N’Golo Kante limped off appearing to hold a hamstring.
The Blues had a wobble in midweek when they suffered that last-gasp defeat by West Ham and momentarily dropped out of the top four yesterday.
But once Willian had added a penalty to Giroud’s fine opener they never looked like surrendering their lead and after Barkley thumped home to put the icing on the cake they are now right back on Leicester ’s coat-tails.
As for Watford, it’s now very much squeaky bum time and their fixtures against Norwich, Newcastle and West Ham in the next 13 days could well be make or break with Manchester City and Arsenal their last two games.
Nigel Pearson’s men matched Chelsea for 20-odd minutes although that wasn’t difficult in what was a poor opening period.
Both sides enjoyed an equal share of possession but neither were able to carve out any notable opportunities.
It was so flat, in fact, that the much-maligned drinks break was welcome — even if it wasn’t necessary in the south-west London drizzle.
And it must have crossed both managers’ minds that a shot or two of espresso might be better served than whatever it was in those bottles to try to get some zip into the game.
Chelsea certainly responded like they’d had a caffeine shot and whatever it was that Lampard said to his men during the brief interval did the trick as they were ahead soon after.
N’Golo Kante showed a little bite in midfield to get them on the ball and he fed Mason Mount, who in turn found Ross Barkley.
Barkley clipped a neat pass into Giroud, and the Frenchman produced a clever finish on the turn, dragging the ball back behind the sliding Craig Dawson and across Ben Foster to squeeze it in at the far post.
Chelsea doubled their advantage before the interval thanks to a blunder from Etienne Capoue.
Christian Pulisic, getting more into his stride as the game went on, drove into the box and, checking, drew Capoue into a foul.
But it was a challenge the Watford midfielder didn’t need to make given there were several other yellow shirts behind him and once Willian had stroked home the spot-kick there never looked any way back for the visitors.
It was pretty much one-way traffic in the second half with Giroud, keeping out Tammy Abraham, looking to take advantage every time his side moved forward.
Mount and Pulisic in particular in Chelsea’s midfield gave Watford more to think about than they could handle.
Giroud had a decent chance around the hour-mark but this time Foster was equal to his effort and made a good save to deny him.
Pearson tried changing things up with Danny Welbeck sent on and moved up top when Troy Deeney was hooked soon after.
And while the changes lifted Watford slightly, at least in terms of energy, there was little if anything to suggest their extra effort would get any reward.
Foster needed to be alert again when the ever-impressive Willian cut back inside and unleashed a fierce effort from the edge of the area.
Watford did at least show some fight late on but Barkley turned home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross to knock the stuffing out of them.
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