Willian was on target again as Chelsea beat struggling Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge to move back into fourth place in the Premier League. (More Football News)
The Blues suffered a midweek defeat at West Ham and slipped out of the Champions League positions when Manchester United hammered Bournemouth on Saturday.
Chelsea responded later in the day, Olivier Giroud marking his return to the starting line-up with the opener before Willian scored his sixth goal in his last seven games from the penalty spot late in the first half.
Ross Barkley added a third in stoppage time as Frank Lampard's side moved two points clear of United, and just one behind third-place Leicester City, a year to the day since the former England international was appointed.
9 & 14 - Willian has more goals (9) and more goal involvements (14 - 9 goals, 5 assists) in the Premier League this season than any other campaign in the competition. Flying. pic.twitter.com/szTBnhsayc— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 4, 2020
Watford are just one point and a place above the relegation zone with five matches to play.
Willian fired straight at Ben Foster with Chelsea's first sight of goal and the Watford goalkeeper kept out a Giroud effort before the France striker opened the scoring after 28 minutes.
The impressive Barkley was the architect, his clever reverse pass giving the former Arsenal frontman the chance to drill into the far corner with his left foot from 10 yards out.
Chelsea looked increasingly dangerous and were two up just before the break, Willian sending Foster the wrong way after Etienne Capoue needlessly upended the lively Christian Pulisic.
The busy Foster again denied Giroud after the break, while he also tipped a measured Willian shot around the post as Lampard's men remained on the front foot.
Kepa Arrizabalaga produced an agile stop to prevent Danny Welbeck from halving the deficit as Watford showed more of a threat, but Barkley rifled home his first league since October 2018 after Pulisic had been denied a penalty as Chelsea cruised to victory.
What does it mean? Chelsea back on track, Hornets remain in the mire
After a setback at the London Stadium, Chelsea provided just the response Lampard would have been looking for.
They had too much quality for a Watford team that were unable to contain the Blues, who caused the strugglers all sorts of problems as they fizzed the ball around on a slick surface with a swagger.
Pulisic goes from strength to strength
Pulisic was a constant menace to Nigel Pearson's side, drifting into pockets of space and gliding away from defenders with great skill and pace in another eye-catching performance. The big-money signing from Borussia Dortmund took time to settle in English football but he now looks very much at home.
Outing to forget for Capoue
Midfielder Capoue most definitely did not have the impact Pearson would have had in mind, going into the book before conceding the penalty and being hauled off early in the second half.
Key Opta facts
- Chelsea have won four successive Premier League games at Stamford Bridge for the first time since winning seven in a row at home under Antonio Conte between October-December 2017.
- The Blues have scored two or more goals in nine of their last 10 Premier League games, only failing to do so in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United in February.
- Watford have lost four consecutive Premier League away games in a row for the first time since the final six on the road in the 2017-18 season under Javi Gracia.
- Olivier Giroud has scored four goals in his last seven league games for Chelsea, more than he had netted in his previous 38 appearances (3).
- Willian is the first ever Chelsea player to score a penalty in three consecutive Premier League games and the sixth different player to do it in the competition.
Chelsea face a short trip to Selhurst Park for a London derby with Crystal Palace on Tuesday, while the Hornets host bottom side Norwich City on the same day.