Watford 4, Chelsea 1
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte last night insisted that he does not fear the sack despite a humiliating setback at Watford leaving him fighting to save his job.
The Premier League champions, who played with 10 men for an hour, looked rudderless as they succumbed to consecutive three-goal defeats against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Wing-back Daryl Janmaat, man of the match Gerard Deulofeu and substitute Roberto Pereyra all scored in a late blitz after Eden Hazard 82nd-minute equaliser looked to have ensured a draw.
Conte has appeared at odds with the Chelsea hierarchy during a difficult spell of just two wins in 10 games but reiterated that he would not lose sleep over his job security.
“I am not worried about my job. I work hard every day and give 100 per cent. My soul is clear and I go to sleep without the problem that maybe I could to this,” he said.
He added: “This is not my problem. I try to do my job and to put everything in my job. If this is enough, it’s okay. Otherwise they can take their decision.”
Chelsea could have climbed to third with a win; instead they could have slipped out of the Champions League qualifying places by the time they play again, on Monday against West Brom.
Conte’s chances of staying in charge look uncertain, despite leading the team to the league title in his first season just eight months ago, with this month’s tie against Barcelona looming.
It was a dream home debut for Watford manager Javi Gracia, however, whose team pulled six points clear of the relegation zone with a fully deserved win. “It was an unforgettable night,” said Gracia.
Watford’s task became easier on 30 minutes when Tiemoue Bakayoko received a second yellow card and Troy Deeney put them in front with a penalty just before half-time, after Thibaut Courtois tripped Deulofeu.
Hazard drew Chelsea level eight minutes from time with a curling 25-yard strike, but the hosts responded instantly through Janmaat, who traded passes with Deeney, ghosted past three defenders and finished.
Deulofeu, a January loan signing from Barcelona, then dribbled 40 yards before firing in via a nick off Cahill and Pereyra completed the scoring in stoppage time when he ran onto Abdoulaye Doucoure’s through-ball and whipped a shot across Courtois.