After an utterly disappointing performance against Bournemouth during the week, Chelsea will be looking to bounce back strongly when they face Huddersfield Town.
Chelsea will be aiming to come back from their 4-0 thumping at the hands of AFC Bournemouth in the midweek fixture, when they lock horns with a struggling Huddersfield Town outfit on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
It has been a difficult past couple of weeks for the Blues, following their 0-2 defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League, which was followed by the second-half capitulation against the Cherries on Wednesday night. The back-to-back defeats in the league has seen Chelsea, yield their fourth spot in the table to Arsenal.
While Chelsea did pick up two important cup victories – against Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday, between the two defeats, the pressure is on manager Maurizio Sarri to turn things around at the earliest or risk falling behind the Gunners in the race for the top four.
Huddersfield Town, on the other hand, are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table, having just managed to pick up 11 points from 24 matches. The Terriers had a change in regime last month, with David Wagner stepping down and Jan Siewert getting named the new manager.
Huddersfield were beaten 0-1 by ten-man Everton in Siewert’s first match in-charge of the club on Tuesday night. However, given the difficult situation that Chelsea find themselves in currently, the Terriers will be hoping to inflict more pain on the Londoners with a positive result on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Sarri expressed concerns over the fitness of star striker Gonzalo Higuain after the Bournemouth defeat, claiming that the Argentine was carrying a back problem. However, he is expected to be fit and ready for action on Saturday. No other injury or suspension worries for Chelsea heading into the weekend clash.
Despite the heavy defeat during the week, no major tweaks are expected to the Chelsea starting XI at the weekend. Kepa Arrizzabalaga will continue to man the goal for the Blues and will be guarded by a back four comprising of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Emerson Palmieri, who has now become the first-choice left-back ahead of Marcos Alonso.
Summer signing Jorginho will continue to operate as the deepest of the midfield three for the home team, with N’Golo Kante also set to hold on to his spot in the middle of the park. There is likely to be one change, however, with Ross Barkley likely to feature in place of on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic.
The onus will be on Eden Hazard to provide the creative spark from the left flank, while the manager might opt to start with Willian on the right-flank over Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi. With Higuain likely to be fit, he should start as the striker ahead of Olivier Giroud.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Higuan, Hazard;
The return of midfielder Aaron Mooy against the Toffees earlier this week was a huge boost for the Terriers. However, they will be without the services of Danny Williams for Saturday’s match, while Philip Billing is also a major doubt. January signing Karlan Grant could be in line to make his debut from the bench.
New Huddersfield boss Siewert is expected to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation as well, with Jonas Lossl starting between the sticks. Florent Hadergjonaj is likely to continue as the right-sided full-back while Terence Kongolo should hold on to his spot on the left. Mathias Jorgensen and Christopher Schindler will pair up at the centre.
Mooy made a substitute appearance against Everton, but should walk into the starting lineup on Saturday afternoon against Chelsea in place of Juninho Bacuna. Seasoned campaigner Jonathan Hogg and on-loan Crystal Palace man Jason Puncheon will occupy the remaining spots in the middle of the park.
Elias Kachunga should hold on to his spot on the right wing after a hard-working display against the Toffees, while Adama Diakhaby too should be retained on the left-side of the attack. Steve Mounie is expected to get the nod over Laurent Depoitre again.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Schindler, Jorgensen, Kongolo; Mooy, Hogg, Puncheon; Kachunga, Mounie, Diakhaby;
1. Chelsea Clean Sheet – NO @ 2.37
2. Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.66
3. Gonzalo Higuain to score anytime @ 1.72
1. David Luiz to get booked anytime @ 5.50
- Chelsea have lost just one of their last 16 matches against Huddersfield Town in all competitions (W11 D4), a 0-1 defeat in the League Cup third round in October 1999.
- Huddersfield’s last league victory over Chelsea was 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the old Second Division in March 1963.
- Chelsea have failed to score in three of their last six home Premier League games, more than they had in their previous 21 combined in the competition (2).
- The last permanent Huddersfield Town manager to win his first away league match in charge was Neil Warnock in August 1993, a 3-2 win at Rotherham United in the third tier.
- The Blues have scored 13 goals in their previous 13 league matches, having amassed 27 goals in their first 11 fixtures of the season. During that 13-match spell, only Huddersfield and Cardiff City have scored fewer Premier League goals than Chelsea.
Player to Watch
Gonzalo Higuan (Chelsea)
The Argentine forward cut short his loan spell at AC Milan to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, having worked with the Italian manager at Napoli. Since sealing his loan move to Stamford Bridge, Higuain hasn’t been able to hit the ground running and is yet to score his first goal for the Blues, having featured in two matches now.
Higuain was particularly disappointing against the Cherries earlier this week, as he hardly looked like a serious goal-threat, failing to link-up effectively with his attacking teammates. The Argentine had 29 touches, no shots and no key passes on his Premier League debut. Going up against the fifth worst defence in the division, he will be hoping break his duck on Saturday.
Chelsea 2-0 Huddersfield Town
Chelsea find themselves in a spot of bother, having slipped out of the Champions League qualification spots, following the hammering they received at the hands of Bournemouth. They have failed to score in three of their last four league games and are in danger of losing three league matches in a row for the first time since November 2015.
Huddersfield have lost 10 of their past 11 league matches, drawing the other and have failed to score in half of their 24 league games this season. Their record against the top six sides doesn’t make for a good reading either, as they have lost all their seven PL matches against the big six, letting in 19 goals, while scoring just two.
The Blues may have been found wanting by Eddie Howe’s men, but with the Terriers struggling for form and confidence, they should oversee a rather straightforward victory at home this weekend.