Gianfranco Zola picks out pivotal Chelsea figure after ‘lucky’ Watford victory

Gianfranco Zola September 2021

Gianfranco Zola singled out Antonio Rudiger as pivotal for Chelsea after Thomas Tuchel’s side ground out a 2-1 victory over Watford to remain at the top of the Premier League table.

It was far from a fluid performance at Vicarage Road on Wednesday, but Chelsea got the job done against a resilient Watford side. Mason Mount had fired the Blues ahead but Emmanuel Dennis equalised just before half-time. And sub Hakim Ziyech (72) scored the winner just as it looked as though Watford might earn a valuable point.

Tuchel was far from happy with the performance, bemoaning their approach and labelled it a “lucky win”. 

Zola though was more forgiving and thought Tuchel’s men showed real spirit and resolve.

Zola told Prime Video: “Sometimes you don’t play your best, either because you aren’t in great form or the opposition puts you under pressure.

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“But wins like this are important for the morale. Watford did everything they have to do, they started well and were competitive.

“I guess it shows what the Premier League is about when Chelsea bring on Ziyech and [Romelu] Lukaku. This is the difference between big teams like Chelsea and Watford.

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Zola: Chelsea can go really far

“Chelsea defended so well from set pieces. Watford have big guys but they [the Chelsea defence] were always in good positions and Antonio Rudiger defended exceptionally well from set pieces.


“They won the game because of their great quality. I wouldn’t say they stole the game.”

The top of the table remains tight after Liverpool and Man City also picked up victories.

Chelsea lead the way by a point from City and two points from Liverpool and Zola thinks they are well placed for a good season.

“We saw today they didn’t play their best but they managed to win and score two goals.

“It makes me comfortable that it looks strong everywhere. They can bring players in and they change the game. They can go really far with this team,” added the former Blues striker.

READ MORE: Tuchel explains decision to ditch Saul Niguez again in another half-time humiliation