On a final day of Premier League football set up in a cloud of uncertainty in respect of the title race, making the top four and who would be relegated, Stamford Bridge was a venue of more certainty. Chelsea had third place secured and Watford were already set to spend next season in the Championship.
Neither side had much to play for with Hornets manager Roy Hodgson bringing his football career to an end, while even referee Mike Dean was making his final Premier League outing. Safe to say, it was not a match that was always fired with intensity.
Kenedy ensured a lively start for Thomas Tuchel’s side however and posed questions down Chelsea’s left before delivering a good ball for Kai Havertz to finish just 11 minutes into the contest. Chelsea then coasted in possession, with Watford having a few moments of pressure, until the 87th minute when some slack defending saw Dan Gosling level the scores. Ross Barkley was able to put the finishing touches on a lively cameo when he headed in from another expert delivery from Reece James.
football.london takes a look at the moments you may have missed from the afternoon.
Todd Boehly finally sees Chelsea win
It’s been a long time coming for Chelsea’s prospective owner who has been present at Stamford Bridge for a torrid run of form from the Blues. He finally got to see Tuchel’s men pick up three points though, even if they counted for naught.
On this occasion Boehly managed to stretch is legs further than the box he has observed games from however and joined Chelsea’s squad on the pitch. However, it must be noted that he did not seem to be alone with fellow investors Hansjörg Wyss, in addition to Jose Feliciano and Behdad Eghbali, owners of majority stakeholder Clearlake Capital also seeming to be in attendance.
It still appeared to be Boehly who was the star of the show as the businessman greeted each of the Chelsea players as they emerged from the tunnel ahead of their lap of honour. First out was Cesar Azpilicueta who appeared to fully embrace Boehly before moving out towards the coaching staff. The rest of the squad continued out to shake hands with the figure who could be the club’s future owner.
Antonio Rudiger and other goodbyes
It was a poignant moment when Antonio Rudiger’s number was raised and a round of applause followed around Stamford Bridge. The German defender was acknowledged by each teammate he passed on his way off the pitch with Reece James in particular diving in for a hug before Rudiger left the pitch.
The 29-year-old wasn’t the only one potentially featuring for the final time however with Andreas Christensen also out of contract. The Denmark international was not in the matchday squad for the Blues but was in attendance at Stamford Bridge.
Donning a Chelsea polo top, Christensen took a final look around the stadium on the lap of honour, and some play fighting over a ball with Christian Pulisic too. The 26-year-old has not had a fairytale farewell with the club but at least managed to get some closure on Sunday afternoon.
The uncertain goodbye, however, remains Azpilicueta. The Spaniard of course led proceedings following the match and waved to supporters during his lap of the ground. Whether it was simply a gesture of goodwill or a final goodbye remains to be seen.
One person that the Chelsea captain did say goodbye to was Mike Dean. The Chelsea veteran could be seen laughing and joking with the referee and following the final whistle gave Dean a firm embrace before his departure.
Premier League history
According to Opta, Chelsea became the first team in Premier League history to go through an entire season without ever being behind at half-time. There may be no trophies for that one but it’s perhaps a sign of the platform Chelsea have been able to earn themselves and how they are yet to be the finished product. A record to build upon however.
The Blues also broke their club record for securing the most scorers in a single season as Barkley became the 21st different player to net. Perhaps less promising for the future, and a statistic some supporters may hope to see change next season is that Chelsea did not manage to give any of their teenagers a Premier League minute this season. However, outings by the likes of Harvey Vale and Lewis Hall within cup competitions should not be forgotten.
Harvey Vale’s message
Ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea announced that Sam Kerr had been awarded Chelsea Women’s Player of the Season and Harvey Vale was named as the Academy Player of the Season. The 18-year-old winger was present to receive the accolade and even managed to say a few words on the mic. He acknowledged that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of others to win the award. They include Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher, Reece James and Mason Mount.