Sunday, October 21, 2018

Prediction: Huddersfield vs Chelsea

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

Coming off the back of a string of player issues behind the scenes and a 2-0 loss to Man City in the Community Shield that highlighted several issues still underlying, new Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri knows he must make a statement in his Premier League debut when his Blues travel to The Kirklees Stadium to face a Terriers side who will give nothing less than 100%.

Huddersfield

Starting with David Wagner’s Huddersfield side, although many expected The Terriers to drop immediately back down to the Championship last season, Saturday’s hosts showed plenty of heart and avoided the drop thanks to several rugged performances, most famously picking up a 2-1 win over Manchester United at Kirklees Stadium. Entering their second year in the top-flight, despite the likes of Thomas Ince heading to Stoke, Huddersfield’s German boss has added 10 new faces to his squad, including Monaco pair Terence Kongolo and Adama Diakhaby. Although the odds are still going to be stacked against Huddersfield this year, they have impressed with some eye-catching performances in pre-season. Now unbeaten in their last five and winning their last three on the bounce, The Terriers picked up the scalps of RB Leipzig, Lyon and Bologna on that run and more impressive for Saturday’s hosts, they have scored eight times in those three wins.

Team News

Huddersfield could give debuts to Ramadan Sobhi and Adama Diakhaby. The Terriers will make a late decision on whether to play loanee Isaac Mbenza, who joined on deadline day, while new signing Erik Durm won’t be risked.

Chelsea

As for Maurizio Sarri’s new Chelsea side, although the Italian boss gained plenty of plaudits for his Napoli sides free-flowing football last season, The Blues appear to be struggling to adjust to Sarri’s 4-3-3 formation. With questions still over the likes of Marcos Alonso’s ability to play as an out and out left back, Chelsea have also struggled to find a creative spark in the final third. Playing out a 0-0 draw with Lyon in midweek, although The Blues did pinch a penalties victory, Chelsea have failed to score more than a single goal in their last 10 outings. Outplayed for large spells of their 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in last weekends Community Shield, Sarri will be desperate to get talisman Eden Hazard back in his side.

Team News

Chelsea playmaker Jorginho, who followed head coach Maurizio Sarri from Napoli this summer, is set for his first Premier League appearance. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is eligible to play after joining from Athletic Bilbao on deadline day.

World Cup winners N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud, Belgium star Eden Hazard and England defender Gary Cahill come into contention after taking part in training this week.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Huddersfield’s only win in the final 10 league games last season came against Watford in April (D4, L5).
  • David Wagner’s side won their final three pre-season games, beating Lyon, Bologna and RB Leipzig, scoring a total of eight goals.
  • Chelsea have failed to score more than a single goal in their last 10 matches in all competitions since beating Southampton 2-0 in April.
  • Laurent Depoitre has scored both of Huddersfield’s Premier League goals against Chelsea.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League visits to Yorkshire (W6, D2) since a 2-0 loss at Leeds in 2002.

Conclusion

After 90 minutes of chasing City around Wembley last weekend, Sarri will know his side certainly face a very different task on Saturday. Still boosted by their impressive pre-season tour, David Wagner should be confident about putting the pressure on a Chelsea side still in the transition period. After finding the net in both meetings with The Blues last season, there will certainly be an electric atmosphere around The Kirklees Stadium. As for Chelsea, although they may have lacked that spark in the final third, unlike Sarri’s Napoli side, the introduction of Eden Hazard will certainly give them a boost. Backing both teams to score at 19/20 seems like the best bet here.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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