Tactics notes: Watford 0-0 Chelsea

Watford and Chelsea played out a 0-0 statelmate at Vicarage Road, a result that saw both sides move up a spot in the table. Watford leapfrogged Stoke into 9th position while Chelsea moved ahead of West Brom into 13th.

Chique Sanchez Flores opted to keep the same 4-3-1-2 shape the Hornets used in their 2-1 win over Newcastle with the midfield unchanged. Jurado played in a #10 role behind Deeney and Ighalo, Capoue and Behrami played either side of Ben Watson at the base of midfield. Defensively, left back Nathan Ake was ineligible to play against his parent club and was replaced with Jose Holebas. Austrian Sebastian Prodl partnered Crag Cathcart in central defense with Juan Carlos Paredes at right back.

Guus Hiddink named an unchanged side to the one that beat Arsenal in their last league outing. Willian, Fabregas and Oscar played the attacking midfield positions behind Diego Costa in 1 4-2-3-1. John Obi Mikel and Matic played the holding midfield roles in front of a back four of Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry and Azipilicueta.

Ighalo and Deeney have struck up a wonderful strike partnership this season. The two have a bit of the old school big-quick partnership, with Deeney using his size and strength to contest aerial challenges and hold play up and Ighalo offering tricky direct dribbling. As playing with two strikers has become less fashionable since Jose Mourinho introduced the 4-3-3 when he first arrived at Chelsea in 2004, center backs have gotten less accustomed to playing against two strikers. Against a single striker system one center back can mark the striker while the other drops in to offer cover. In a two striker system both center backs have the more uncomfortable responsibility of marking a striker, meaning they don't have the security of their partner cleaning up in behind them.

Deeney and Ighalo made Terry and Zouma uncomfortable in the first. Watford had no qualms skipping right over top the midfield and playing long direct balls into Deeney who would bring them down for Ighalo in support. Because Terry and Zouma both had a striker to mark, space opened up for Jurado just off the two strikers. Matic and Mikel picked up Capoue and Behrami in midfield, meaning Jurado had space between the Chelsea holding midfielders and center backs to exploit. With Terry and Zouma both having to mark a striker, neither could step forward into the gaps to deny entry passes into Jurado or they'd risk leaving one of the strikers unmarked in the final third.

The downside to playing with two strikers and an attacking #10 for Watford was that they were quite narrow in the midfield defensively. At time Jurado, Deeney and Ighalo all stayed high up the pitch when Chelsea were in possession, leaving Watson, Capoue and Behrami to defend as a midfield bank of three. The three central midfielders did well, maintaining a compact shape in the middle of the pitch but the narrow shape meant Chelsea enjoyed some space in the channels. Because Watford were playing without wide midfielders, their fullbacks Holebas and Paredes took up wide starting positions in order to prevent Chelsea from playing easy diagonal passes into the wings. However, with the fullbacks playing relatively wide, it opened up a gap of space between the fullbacks and center backs Prodl and Cathcart. Diego Costa exploited this space on a few occasions but was poor once he got in possession. Second half substitute Eden Hazard exploited the gap between Holebas and Catchart in the second, getting to the byline before cutting back to Ivanovic who forced a terrific point blank save from Heurelho Gomes.

In the end both sides mustered some half chances- Chelsea forced two fine saves from Gomes late on- but it was a game short on attacking quality.