If there was ever a sign that John Terry had given all he had to give at Chelsea, Monday night’s victory with Watford was just that, as he went from the familiar role of hero to the equally familiar role of villain and back again.
Restored to the starting line-up, he led out his side to Stamford Bridge’s newly unfurled décor celebrating their restoration as champions and was greeted by the now customary guard of honour by their guests for the evening.
Going hard early, as the leader of the party often does, Terry gave his side the lead, only to get overexcited and straight away allow Etienne Capoue to equalise.
The Blues composed themselves to bag two more goals, though, as the soiree transcended into a full-blown house party.
Stefano Okaka threatened to be the party-pooper as Watford looked like they had earned a slice of the cake, until Cesc Fabregas turned up fashionably late to keep the celebrations going deep into the night.
In their first appearance since the confirmation of their ascension to the Premier League throne on Friday night, Antonio Conte made nine changes to his side, with the FA Cup final against Arsenal a week on Saturday now at the forefront of his thinking.
However, Conte’s relentless demand of hard work, no players were truly given the night off with David Luiz, Nemanja Matic and Thibaut Courtois all involved in the pre-match warm up – despite not actually being named in the match-day 18.
Upon his first venture out into the technical area, Conte was greeted with a standing ovation from all quarters of the Bridge but the party atmosphere wasn’t immediately transferred onto the pitch as Chelsea failed to carve out anything clear-cut.
That was until the 22nd minute when Terry turned on the spot from Willian’s corner and sliced the ball past Heurelho Gomes to give Chelsea the lead and kick off the celebrations.
However, there must have been some poison in the punch as almost instantly after giving his side the lead the man whose banner reads ‘captain, leader, legend’ had his head towards the ground after gifting Watford an equaliser.
The Chelsea captain inexplicably challenged teammate Nathan Chalobah to win a looping header on the edge of his own box, only for it to be, somewhat inevitably, effortlessly intercepted by Capoue and headed past a helpless Asmir Begovic.
That sapped the good mood from the terraces as the crowd grew frustrated, as if they had just been told to turn down the music at their own party. For 12 minutes, anyway.
If Terry deserved his goal as a reward for 22 years of service, then Cesar Azpilicueta got what he deserved for his this season.
It came from another corner as the ball fell to the Spaniard on the edge of the area giving him enough time to bring it down before rifling it into the bottom corner of the net. Time to turn that music back up.
Arsene Wenger made the claim that the sides who are in Watford’s position at this stage of the season tend to “take a breather” and allow teams to roll them over. That certainly could not be said about Walter Mazzarri, who kicked every ball and at one stage grappled with his coach at the start of the second half.
He looked slightly more forlorn moments later, though, when ‘that’s why we’re champions’ was the next song on the Stamford Bridge jukebox as Michy Batshuayi, Friday night’s hero, finished into an empty net to make it 3-1.
Yet, in mirroring their lead in the first half, Chelsea conceded immediately after – although for this one there was no blame attached to Terry as Daryl Janmaat jinked and jived his way through the Blues defence to find the bottom corner with a stunning party trick of his own.
But, unlike the first half, the crowd weren’t deflated by the goal as Batshuayi’s cushion allowed them to encourage Terry to shoot whenever he gathered the ball in his own half.
It was then time for karaoke as the Shed End demanded a new song from each section of the stadium, and even invited the travelling Watford fans to get involved at one point.
Not satisfied with his first Premier League goal since January 2016, Azpilicueta twice tried to add to his tally and came close to doing so, if not for a stunning save from Gomes.
But, as Chelsea’s greatest hits kept playing on the surround sound, suddenly the plug on the stereo was pulled as Okaka, in one of his first touches since coming on as a substitute, silenced the Bridge.
It was then left to Fabregas to give the festivities a late encore with a first-time shot from 18 yards with only three minutes remaining.
There was still time for Sebastian Prodl to be ejected early with a red card by referee, and bouncer for the night, Lee Mason, with Chelsea now left needing only one more victory to set a new record for Premier League wins.
Chelsea: Begovic, Zouma, Terry, Ake, Azpilicueta, Kante, Chalobah, Kenedy, Willian, , Hazard, Batshuayi.
Substitutes: Eduardo, Aina, Alonso, Cahill, Fabregas, Pedro, Diego Costa.
Watford: Mariappa, Prodl, Holebas, Amrabat, Cleverley, Behrami, Doucoure, Janmaat, Capoue, Niang.
Substitutes: Pantilimon, Mason, Eleftheriou, Zuniga, Pereira, Okaka, Deeney.
Referee: Lee Mason
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