EPL

Bournemouth 0-3 Watford: Resurgent Hornets climb out of the drop zone

By Sports Desk January 12, 2020

Watford's resurgence under Nigel Pearson continued as they beat Bournemouth 3-0 to move out of the Premier League's bottom three for the first time this season.

Goals from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra earned the Hornets a third successive top-flight win, with Pearson's side now unbeaten in five matches.

There was a degree of fortune to their opening goal as young Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers chipped straight to Ismaila Sarr, who crossed for Doucoure to finish three minutes before half-time.

Watford dominated after the break and doubled their advantage in the 66th minute when Deeney blasted home following more good work from Sarr, with substitute Pereyra hooking in a third goal in stoppage time.

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    N'Golo Kante has put fitness worries behind him and is back to doing the work of two people at Chelsea, winning the approval of new boss Thomas Tuchel in the process.

    Kante did not start any of Tuchel's first five Premier League games in charge at Stamford Bridge and was also restricted to a 16-minute cameo in the 1-0 Champions League win at Atletico Madrid.

    However, Thursday's victory by the same scoreline over Liverpool was Kante's third straight appearance in a Premier League XI and he turned in a typically all-action display.

    The 29-year-old France international gained possession 11 times at Anfield, more than any other Chelsea player, while his 14 duels contested were only bettered by Jorginho and Timo Werner (both 16).

    "Super big," Tuchel replied when asked how important it was to have Kante back to his best.

    "It was clear from the first second in training what this guy is capable of doing. It's unbelievable.

    "You see his intensity and in the physical report after matches, you think they maybe tracked two people and put them into one sheet.

    "It's unbelievable in terms of what he delivers, in terms of intensity, in terms of ball recoveries and devotion to a group. This is world class, the highest level, and very, very happy that he's in our squad."

    Despite not enjoying the most memorable season of his career, the two-time Premier League champion and World Cup winner has made more recoveries (200), tackles (76) and interceptions (57) than any other Chelsea midfielder across all competitions.

    Tuchel has an enviable array of options to deploy in the deeper central midfield positions, with the passing accuracy offered by Mateo Kovacic (91.5 per cent) and Jorginho (89) outstripping the less-smooth Kante (86.6).

    These figures widen from Tuchel's first game in charge against Wolves on January 27 onwards, with Kovacic and Jorginho almost identical on 91.5 and 91.3 respectively, while Kante is back on 82.5 per cent. Indeed, no Chelsea player ceded position more frequently than the former Leicester City man (18) against Liverpool.

    However, Kante brings so much to Chelsea in those aspects more associated with his game.

    Despite having restricted game time under Tuchel so far, his per 90 minutes average for recoveries (9), tackles (4.6), interceptions (2.5) and duels won (7.4) are the best of any Chelsea midfielder during this period.

    For context, none of his other counterparts average more than one interception per game, while Jorginho's average of 2.7 tackles is the next best behind Kante.

    "He comes from injury, he will not now play every game 90 minutes before we arrive at the international break," Tuchel said, adding a note of caution.

    "We have to manage him, we do this together with our physical coaches. We have to take care of him so he arrives fit for the international break and, when he comes back, I hope we can rely on him in every game.

    "I'm very, very happy to have him, Kova and Jorginho in defensive midfield. This is exactly the level we need in games of the highest level. I'm super happy with all of them."

    This competition for places is something Tuchel has already seen to be paying dividends.

    "I feel an unbelievable attitude towards training and towards games, I feel the bond between players that is necessary," he added.

    "In the whole world where football is played, the teams that stand out are the teams that fight for each other, who are ready to sacrifice, who are happy for each other, who push each other from the bench. This is exactly what I found."

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    In the UK, anyone travelling to 'red list' countries must isolate for 10 days when they come back, with no exemptions granted for elite sportspeople.

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    Although that seemingly frees up City trio Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias, Guardiola will be able to put his foot down when it comes to Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez and Brazil contingent Ederson, Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus.

    "We didn't speak. We will wait until after this game against United and I am pretty sure that next week we'll talk about that," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby.

    "But I think it makes no sense if the players go to the national team and then have to isolate for 10 days when they come back. It makes no sense.

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    "We invest a lot of time and money for the important part of the season and if six, seven, eight players cannot play with us, it makes no sense, honestly. No sense."

    Guardiola's stance means the runaway Premier League leaders are aligned with the reigning champions after Jurgen Klopp also said Liverpool players from affected countries would not be released.

    The City boss, who famously went against Barcelona's stance during his time as head coach and allowed Lionel Messi to win a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, insists he is not acting to devalue international football – just merely reacting to the realities of these times.

    "We want to let them go to the national team. I know how important it is for them. I'd never say don't go to represent your country and to prepare for the European Cup or American Cup," he added.

    "But it's no sense to do it and not play for 10 days, no training session, be at home, when we are playing for the league.

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    The reigning champions find themselves in a battle to remain in touch with Inter in the Serie A title race; they trail the leaders by 10 points, albeit with a game in hand. 

    They host Lazio on Saturday in league action, then have a crucial Champions League clash with Porto to follow on Tuesday, the Bianconeri needing to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit to make it through to the quarter-finals.

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    "All the matches are decisive for Juventus. The next game is tomorrow's match and we will concentrate on it with all our strength to win and only then will we think about Porto," Pirlo told the media on Friday. 

    "We are still in the race on all fronts and as long as there is hope we will give our all to try to win the league. 

    "The enthusiasm is there because we are going through a period of tough and important games. Tomorrow's match is also important for the standings and where we are is the same as last week. We can't make mistakes in case those in front of us do so."

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