English Premier League, Week 1
With a system than notoriously takes his players quite some time to fully comprehend, it was no surprise to see Chelsea struggle under Maurizio Sarri in pre-season. Clearly friendly matches should not be given too much significance but, after scoring just three goals in five games, their form was a very obvious indicator not to expect this team to click too much in the early going.
That feeling was only reinforced by a flurry of late transfer activity and the fact that a number of key players have yet to return to full fitness. Mateo Kovacic has only spent a few days will the club after his loan move from Real Madrid was confirmed, with fellow World Cup semifinalists Eden Hazard, Michy Batshuayi, N’golo Kante and Olivier Giroud all still someway short of being ready for this clash.
New record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to make his debut in goal, while those aforementioned absentees are likely to mean Pedro and Willian will feature from the start and could enjoy themselves against Huddersfield’s overmatched defence. So too could Alvaro Morata who not only remained at Stamford Bridge but also saw the club fail to land a striker to take his place, meaning the Spain international could be given a much larger role this term.
For the home side, new signings Terence Kongolo, Ramadan Sobhi and Adama Diakhaby could all feature from the outset, with the latter coming off the bench as a second half substitute to score in the final pre-season outing against RB Leipzig. He could partner Steve Mounie up front here, although the Terriers might also opt for a more defensive formation against the Blues and hope to keep the scoreline to a minimum.
Having made his only summer appearance in that clash however, the game with Chelsea is likely to be too soon for Erik Durm and much will depend on a pair of more familiar faces. Terence Kongolo is Huddersfield’s new record signing and, having impressed on loan at the end of last season, it is hoped he will continue to shore up the Town defence while Australia international Aaron Mooy – one of Town’s best players in their maiden Premier League season – will look to control possession in the middle of the pitch.
Huddersfield Town (3-5-2): Jonas Lossl; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Jorgensen; Ramadan Sobhi, Philip Billing, Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy, Tommy Smith; Adama Diakhaby, Steve Mounie
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso; Cesc Fabregas, Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Alvaro Morata, Willian
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