Chelsea got goals from Willian, Ross Barkley, and Olivier Giroud in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
USMNT star Christian Pulisic drew a penalty for Willian’s goal and helped set up Barkley’s third goal in his fourth-straight start in 10 days.
[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – USMNT star shines again ]
Chelsea moves back atop Manchester United for fourth place, one point behind Leicester City.
Watford’s 28 points are one point better than two of the bottom three, with Aston Villa holding a match-in-hand and set to visit Liverpool on Sunday.
[ MORE: Pulisic reacts to Hazard comparisons ]
Three things we learned
1. Chelsea holds serve in top four fight: Wins for Manchester United and Leicester City meant the Blues could finish the day in either fourth or fifth. The decisive performance was a welcome one for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard following a late loss at West Ham earlier in the week. The Blues meet Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, and Norwich City before Liverpool and Wolves make for a dangerous final two league fixtures.
2. Pearson plans for midweek: Norwich City looks as down-and-out as any club right now, so it’s not likely a coincidence that Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney came off the pitch with the score line 2-0 and 26 minutes to play. Watford will aim to find points in its home ground against a poor Canaries side on Tuesday.
3. Kante limps off: While Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have remained fit and available to Lampard, the manager won’t be happy that N’Golo Kante’s injury-hit season saw a possible concern with a 78th-minute sub for Billy Gilmour.
Man of the Match
It was either Pulisic or Willian, and we’re going to go with the Brazilian if only because CP gets a lot of run in these parts.
Chelsea – Watford recap
Christian Pulisic came out of the gates in lively form and within minutes Olivier Giroud had an odd-angled chance to head toward goal.
The Blues were all over Watford for the first 20 minutes, Pulisic, Willian, and Giroud very involved in the display.
Giroud put the Blues on the board with an experienced, spinning strike in the 29th minute. Getting the ball off a Ross Barkley feed, the Frenchman hit a cushioned low shot across his body and just inside the far post.
Pulisic played a role in the second goal, dribbling to the end line and getting manhandled by an out-of-his-mind Christian Kabasele on his cut back toward play. Penalty, Willian. 2-0.
[ MORE: Premier League stats ]
The second half was mostly Chelsea, too, and Willian forced Foster into a terrific 68th-minute save and corner kick to the Blues.
Watford had their moments late, including a Danny Welbeck effort that Kepa Arrizabalaga did very well to save.
Pulisic had a shot blocked in the 90th minute, and Will Hughes couldn’t convert a Welbeck-inspired play at the other end.
Instead, the American would settle for a “hockey assist,” slipping the ball to Azpilicueta inside the 18 before the Chelsea veteran set up Barkley’s exclamation point.