A stunning Watford performance last night that looks set to cost Antonio Conte his job had Abdoulaye Doucoure at it’s beating heart, but the Frenchman may well find himself on the other side of such potential upsets next season – attempting to spoil rather than inspire them on behalf of one of the Premier League’s top clubs.
Indeed, it’s been a fantastic season for the 25-year-old, netting seven times in 25 Premier League appearances, and his best performances have come against English football’s top sides – scoring past Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United this term and now supplying twice against the reigning champions too.
Doucoure notched up two assists last night as the Hornets responded to an 82nd-minute Eden Hazard equaliser with a late onslaught at Vicarage Road. The home side netted thrice in the final seven minutes to compound the Premier League champions to defeat by a three-goal margin for the second time in as many games.
And Doucoure stood out as the driving force behind the 4-1 win, providing endless dynamism alongside Etienne Capoue in central midfield. The former Rennes man created the most chances, completed the most passes, made the most interceptions and won the second-most tackles of any Watford player, and even weighed in with one block.
In fact, it was the type of performance many expected Tiemoue Bakayoko to deliver for Chelsea when he arrived from Monaco during the summer. The 23-year-old has endured an unconvincing first season in the Premier League, and rather than adequately contesting his countryman in midfield, the France international saw red last night for two clumsy fouls in the space of just half an hour.
While that’s as much a consequence of Bakayoko’s individual failings, the fact he was outperformed by a player of similar style and age – and has been all season – likely wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the Chelsea hierarchy. Actually, as we continue to see a revival of box-to-box midfielders like Doucoure, blessed with an abundance of energy and power, his impressive displays this season will likely have caught the attention of many at the top end of the Premier League table.
Arsenal would benefit greatly from the physicality Doucoure brings to the engine room while he would make a fantastic partner to N’Golo Kante as well based on his performance last night. And with the midfielder’s contract due to expire in 2020, next summer feels like the right time to tempt Watford into selling – Transfermarkt currently value him at just £10.8million.
So, Chelsea fans, which player would you prefer to have in the engine room next season? Let us know by voting below…