Two Italian managers collide in the Premier League today as Walter Mazzarri’s Watford go up against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea at Vicarage Road.
Conte enjoyed a winning start to his Chelsea career with a 2-1 win at home to West Ham United, while the Hornets ground out a 1-1 draw at Southampton.
The two managers had a fierce rivalry in Serie A, when Mazzarri was at Napoli, and Conte at Juventus. When the two clubs were embroiled in a title race, Mazzarri was said to be furious when he perceived that Conte imitated his 3-5-2 formation. To this day, Mazzarri does not regard the pair as close friends, but insists there is no tension between them.
‘Friendship is a very important concept, Mazzarri said. ‘I respect Conte as a person and a manager. I respect him a lot but friendship is a lot, its another thing.’
Mazzarri has only got the better of his counterpart once in seven encounters, all of which in Italy.
Watford’s record against the Blues is not exactly sparkling, with only one win coming in their last fifteen meetings, a 1-0 win back in 1999. However, Chelsea have found goals hard to come by at Vicarage Road, Salomon Kalou scoring their only one in three visits, in 2007.
The Hornets will be without midfielder Ben Watson through suspension. Brice Dja Djedje and Isaac Success are set to miss out.
Chelsea have no new injury concerns, Kurt Zouma is still out with an anterior cruciate injury.
By Steve Osborne @BlizzardSteve75