Gianfranco Zola hails ‘exceptional’ Chelsea contract rebel Antonio Rudiger for Watford display

Gianfranco Zola praises Chelsea’s contract rebel Antonio Rudiger for his ‘exceptional’ display in gritty 2-1 win over Watford

  • Chelsea were pushed all the way by Watford on Wednesday in their 2-1 win
  • Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech scored the decisive goals for Chelsea
  • But Antonio Rudiger was a rock in the surf for Thomas Tuchel’s side

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has praised Antonio Rudiger after Thomas Tuchel’s men cleared a hard-fought three points against Watford on Wednesday night.

Mason Mount put Chelsea ahead before Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets equalized shortly before half time via Emmanuel Dennis.

Substitute Hakim Ziyech scored the decisive goal in the second half, but Watford had periods of dominance and pushed the Premier League leaders completely away.

Antonio Rudiger produced an excellent display at the back for Chelsea against Watford

It prompted Zola to praise the Chelsea backline, which was drafted by Rudiger.

“Chelsea defended so well from set pieces,” Zola said. Watford has big boys, but she? [the Chelsea defence] were always in good positions and Antonio Rudiger defended exceptionally well from set pieces.

“They won the game because of their great quality. I wouldn’t say they stole the game.”

Rudiger is currently embroiled in a contract break with Chelsea – his current deal expires in 2022 and the terms offered by the Premier League leaders do not yet match his demands.

Zola, meanwhile, said such a grim win will boost Chelsea’s confidence ahead of a packed schedule for December.

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola impressed by Rudiger's display at Vicarage Road

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola impressed by Rudiger’s display at Vicarage Road

“Sometimes you don’t play your best, either because you’re not in shape or because the opponent is putting pressure on you,” Zola said.

“But these kinds of wins are important for morale. Watford did everything they had to do, they started well and were competitive.

“I think it shows what the Premier League is about when Chelsea bring Ziyech and (Romelu) Lukaku in. This is the difference between big teams like Chelsea and Watford.”