Chelsea were far too good for Watford in the FA Cup third round match at Stamford Bridge, running out winners 5-0. Daniel Sturridge scored his first two goals for the club, whilst Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda also scored. John Eustace’s own goal was the second goal conceded by the Championship side.

Nicolas Anelka was still not fit, so in his and Didier Drogba’s absence, Daniel Sturridge led the line. Malouda, Joe Cole, Yuri Zhirkov, Juliano Belletti and Lampard all started in midfield, as Carlo Ancelotti deployed a 4-3-2-1 formation. Alex was given an opportunity alongside Terry in defence and in goal, Hilario came in for the rested Petr Cech.

It took just four minutes for the Watford defence to be breached. Alex headed Lampard’s corner from the left across goal, to fellow centre half Terry. His volley was heading wide, but Sturridge showed all his predatory instincts to steal a tap in at the back post.  The young forward wheeled away in celebration of his first Chelsea goal.

Minutes later, an unfortunate own goal from Eustace doubled Chelsea’s lead. As the ball ricocheted across goal, Eustace got the final touch and in trying to clear, only served to slide the ball past his own goalkeeper, Scott Loach. Malouda, Joe Cole and Lampard had all been involved in the build up.

Belletti’s stinging volley nearly made it three, but a minute later the tie was effectively over. Zhirkov fancied his chances from twenty five yards, his well struck effort deflecting off Malouda and in past the stranded Loach. After Leeds’ upset win at Old Trafford, Chelsea were happy to be so easily ahead after just twenty minutes.

Watford should have scored at the start of the second half. A corner from their left found Jay De Merit unmarked, but he only headed the ball straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario, who was grateful to not have to extend himself in saving.

Sturridge forced a good save from Loach after he used his pace to get onto Zhirkov’s through ball. The rebound fell to Sturridge again, but he could only shoot into the side netting.

Within a minute though, Chelsea had their fourth. Lampard’s touch set him up perfectly and with time and space in his favour, he launched a sweetly struck screamer past Scott Loach and into the far top corner. It was a belter of a goal and one we’re so used to seeing from England’s finest midfielder.

Nemanja Matic replaced Belletti soon after, but it was the other left footers, Malouda, Zhirkov and Sturridge who were involved in the fifth and final goal. Malouda and Zhirkov worked an opening down the left, before crossing. Sturridge’s touch was beautifully deft in front of goal, his first touch controlling, his second to slot home the finish with the outside of his left boot. Once more, he was away in celebration, his second goal a wonderfully classy one.

Borini and Kakuta made substitute appearances too as the match drew towards a close, with Watford unthreatening and Chelsea taking their foot off the pedal.  Preston North End awaits in the fourth round but for now, Chelsea can reflect on a job well done and a fabulous start to 2010.

Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Hilario; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry (c), A Cole (Kakuta 73); Lampard Belletti (Matic 63), Zhirkov; J Cole, Malouda; Sturridge (Borini 69).
Manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Watford (4-4-1-1): Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, DeMerit (c), Doyley; Cowie (Harley 79), Severin (Jenkins h-t), Eustace, Cleverley; Lansbury; Graham (Henderson 79).
Manager Malky MacKay.

Referee Kevin Friend
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