Huddersfield vs Chelsea preview: latest team news, probable line-ups, score predictions & more
Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea, 4:00 pm CEST, Saturday 11th August, The John Smith's Stadium
Latest 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. Midfielder Mateo Kovacic could also make his debut following a loan move from Real Madrid, as per BBC.
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.
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.
7 stats you need to know ahead of today's clash (via Sky Sports)
•Huddersfield are without a win in their last eight league meetings with Chelsea, (D3 L5), with their last league victory over the Blues coming in March 1963, via a 2-1 away win in the old Division Two.
•At home, Huddersfield have lost each of their last four league clashes with Chelsea; they've never lost five in a row on home soil in the league against a single opponent.
•Chelsea have only lost one of their last 19 opening weekend fixtures in the Premier League (W15 D3 L1), though it came in last season's opener against Burnley.
•Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League visits to Yorkshire (W6 D2), since a 0-2 loss at Leeds in December 2002.
•Chelsea failed to win either of their last two Premier League games in 2017-18. The last time they went on a three-match winless run in the competition was in September 2016, after which they embarked on a 13-match winning streak.
•No side has lost more Premier League games (10) or earned fewer Premier League points (13) in 2018 than Huddersfield.
•Willian was involved in all three of Chelsea's goals as they won 3-1 in this fixture last season, scoring one and assisting the other two.
As per Jack Dudley of the RealSport, Sarri’s team selection for the Community Shield loss to Manchester City will be a good indicator of which players and which system he will look to use throughout the campaign.
With the new stopper Kepa having just signed from Atletico Bilbao, this game may come too soon for him to drop straight into the starting XI, so Willy Caballero may deputise for now.
Although Sarri mentioned that it’s unlikely all of Olivier Giroud, Hazard and Kante will start, the performance against Manchester City in the Community Shield may force his hand into playing two of three. Kovacic could also make an appearance from the bench.
Aside from the £18 million fee paid to AS Monaco for Terence Kongolo, Huddersfield Town have had a fairly modest transfer window.
Kongolo’s teammate at Monaco, Diakhaby, has also joined him in West Yorkshire. The activity in the summer may show Wagner’s intent to play a different system this time around as he looks to utilise an adjustable 3-5-2 formation.
Huddersfield have assembled a mobile defensive unit and while three-at-the-back may appear to be a defensively risky move, the work rates of Chris Lowe and Tommy Smith in the wider positions will provide cover. Florent Hadergjonaj, though, could also be in line to start on the right.
Diakhaby will push for a starting berth alongside Mounie, as Rajiv van La Parra looks the more likely to step aside to make way, while Aaron Mooy will accompany Hogg and Billing to form a resolute midfield.
Wagner’s formation of choice in 2017/18, the German could also use a 4-2-3-1 to include new signings Diakhaby and Sobhi out wide.
Sky Sports' Paul Merson: Huddersfield 0-2 Chelsea
Huddersfield have got to start well. David Wagner performed miracles keeping them up last season and they were helped by a good start. This is a really tough game for them.
Chelsea have their problems but I just feel they'll have too much for Huddersfield. They went there last season and were a class above, and they'll want to impress their new manager.
BBC Sport's Mark Lawrenson: Huddersfield 0-2 Chelsea
Huddersfield basically swam the channel to stay up last season and I think the next few months are going to be a similar story for them.
This might be a good time for them to play Chelsea, who are in a mess at the moment.
It is going to take their new boss Maurizio Sarri a while to settle in and sort things out, which is why I don't think they will finish in the top four, but I am still backing them to win this game.
RealSport's Jack Dudley: Huddersfield 1-2 Chelsea
On paper, Chelsea should have too much for this Huddersfield side, but so much will depend on Hazard’s involvement.
The lack of creativity, as per the Community Shield, will be a concern and Huddersfield may fancy their chances of taking something from this one though the Blues should nick it… just.
Key Battle: Tommy Smith vs Eden Hazard
Huddersfield’s right wing-back was given plenty of opportunities to get forward and join attacks in the 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig last time out, though Saturday’s clash may provide a sterner test for his defensive abilities.
Smith could potentially line up opposite Hazard, who is fresh from an impressive World Cup showing and the winger will be eager to put on a show — if he is still in a Chelsea shirt come the weekend.
Hazard was Chelsea’s top goalscorer in the Premier League last season with 12 strikes, but he’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t at his best. Sarri’s side have desperately struggled to create chances during their pre-season games, so they will pass Hazard the responsibility of carving out opportunities.
If Wagner keeps the 3-5-2 shape then his intent won’t be to sit back and invite Chelsea on to them all game. Smith will get chances to get at the Chelsea back four — specifically a defensively unspectacular Alonso — which will force Hazard to track back.
Main quotes from coaches
David Wagner: "It's up to the whole group to get this togetherness up to a level that makes it difficult for the opponent.
"If we have a Terrier spirit, we will be competitive."
Maurizio Sarri: "The [Thibaut] Courtois situation was clear. He wanted to go to Madrid, so we lost maybe one of the most important goalkeepers in the world now.
"We bought a young goalkeeper, I think one of the most important amongst the young goalkeepers in Europe. I'm really happy.
"He's very young, 23. I hope he can improve very fast. For the moment he's not Courtois, for sure."