Chelsea will be looking to continue piling on the pressure on their top four rivals as Huddersfield visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s win over Liverpool have given their hopes of gaining a top four finish a new lease of life. Antonio Conte will be glad his tactical ploy worked well to diffuse the Liverpool goal threat and the Blues will be hoping for a similarly strong performance defensively on Wednesday.
Huddersfield are fighting their own battle – the battle for safety. A point from their last two games will be enough to ensure Premier League football for next season as well, which was the ultimate goal for David Wagner & co. coming into the campaign. With safety in sight, the Terriers will be pumped to face Chelsea.
Chelsea ran away with a 3-1 scoreline during their visit to Huddersfield earlier in the season. Ahead of their latest encounter, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz round out the injury issues for Antonio Conte. But, Alvaro Morata is also a doubt after missing the Liverpool win with injury. Ideally, the manager should retain the entire lineup from the one that took the field against Liverpool.
But, Conte could go for a more attacking lineup, which could see him revert to a 3-4-2-1 instead of the 3-5-1-1 posted against Liverpool. Olivier Giroud should start upfront and the rest of the lineup should remain the same, with Cesc Fabregas likely to make way for Pedro, which should be the only change on Wednesday.
Should there be no other changes, it shall be disappointing for the in-form Emerson Palmieri, who will have to make do with a place on the bench once again.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard, Pedro; Giroud
Danny Williams and Elias Kachunga are confirmed absentees on Wednesday, while the likes of Michael Hefele, Tom Ince and Jon Gorenc Stankovic are doubts for the Chelsea fixture.
David Wagner would have been delighted with his side’s defensive pedigree at Etihad as they became the only side in the league to keep Manchester City from scoring a goal at home.
With just 1 point needed, Wagner should ideally retain the 5-3-2 setup for Wednesday. Jonas Lossl will have to be up to the task again after denying Manchester City.
Tommy Smith and Scott Malone should have a withdrawn role on either flank of the five-man backline, with the trio of Zanka, Terrence Kongolo and Christopher Schindler likely to remain the centre-backs.
The only change up ahead of defence could be Laurent Depoitre to replace Alex Pritchard and partner Steve Mounie in attack.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Lossl; Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe; Hadergjonaj, Hogg, Mooy; Mounie, Depoitre
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.53
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.50
1. Steve Mounie to score anytime @ 6.50
1. Going to Town – Chelsea have won their last nine fixtures in all competitions against sides with Town in their name.
2. Yorkshire Blues – A team from Yorkshire has failed to win at Stamford Bridge since 1999 since Leeds United won 2-0.
3. Chelsea are the in-form team in the Premier League right now, with 13 points in their last five games – more than anyone else in the competition.
4. Attacking Misers – Huddersfield have the joint-lowest goal tally in the competition (27) with Swansea.
5. King of the Air – Since his Premier League debut in August 2012, Olivier Giroud has scored more headers than anyone else in the competition (29).
Player to Watch
It has to be the 29-year-old who will be the man to watch on Wednesday. Lossl was up to the task whenever called upon against Manchester City and there is a likelihood that he will be called upon a considerable amount of times against Chelsea, especially with Antonio Conte likely to deploy a more attacking lineup.
Chelsea 3-1 Huddersfield
The Chelsea players have a new fire in their belly – a fire ignited by their hard fought 1-0 win over Liverpool. Antonio Conte will look towards his defenders to repeat their performance while he will entrust Olivier Giroud to get things done upfront. With a capable head like Giroud available upfront, Conte will look to field Pedro in order to increase the activity on wings and play to the strengths of his frontman.
Belief is what David Wagner will look to instil in his players ahead of the fixture. The first half is likely to be a cagey affair but things should open up with a goal in the second half and we should see Chelsea repeat the 3-1 scoreline to complete a double over Huddersfield and go level on points with Liverpool.