Chelsea will try to bounce back from their shock defeat at the hands of Bournemouth when they face Watford in the Premier League on Monday.
The Blues have just one win in their last four outings in the league but still sit in the top four, two points ahead of rivals Tottenham Hotspur. After a productive January transfer window, fans hope the defending champions can halt the slide and start winning again.
Here's a look at Monday's fixture:
Date: Monday, February 5
Time: 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
Venue: Vicarage Road, Watford
TV Info: Sky Sports (UK), NBC (U.S.)
Blues manager Antonio Conte provided an injury update ahead of the match:
Per WhoScored.com, Olivier Giroud could make his debut on Monday, although his lack of starts for Arsenal in the last few months indicates he needs to build up his fitness before he can play the full 90 minutes.
Watford enter the clash with a lengthy list of absentees due to injury―Tommie Hoban, Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah, Heurelho Gomes, Younes Kaboul, Kiko Femina, Will Hughes, Miguel Britos and Molla Wague have all been ruled out, per WhoScored―and Didier Ndong is suspended.
Conte's future has been a hot topic during Chelsea's difficult spell, and with the conclusion of the January transfer deadline day came renewed questions about his commitment to the club.
The Italian made it clear he wants to continue with the Blues, per football writer Nizaar Kinsella:
The former Juventus boss was hugely popular during his first season in west London, when he guided the team to a title, but his star has faded quite a bit since then. Chelsea haven't played the most inspiring football this season, with an over-reliance on Eden Hazard and a general lack of creativity leading to a number of dull contests.
Chelsea can struggle against defensive teams digging in their heels, and they'll likely face exactly that on Monday. Watford sit in the middle of the standings but are winless in their last four league matches, and there's a reason for that.
As reported by the Stoke Sentinel's Pete Smith, the Hornets are actively trying to prevent play as much as possible, and it has led to some incredible numbers:
The Blues will need the creativity of Hazard and Cesc Fabregas to break through Watford's defence, especially if Giroud isn't fit to start. The Frenchman can be an excellent target for crosses, and in Marcos Alonso, Chelsea have an excellent provider from the wing who quickly built a connection with Alvaro Morata earlier this season.
Prediction: Watford 0-1 Chelsea