Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Chelsea vs Huddersfield Match Preview (09/05/18): Blues to Bite Back Against the Terriers

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We are showing a very nice sense of momentum at the moment, and with two games in the space of four days that should come in very handy.

The 1-0 win over Liverpool on Sunday was remarkable in that it was wholly unremarkable as a game of football; not what we’ve come to expect from the Merseysiders this term. They may have dominated possession but we created the better chances, and Olivier Giroud’s header was just reward for our endeavour.

Indeed, had Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko made the best of their openings we could have been 3-0 up at half time.

Liverpool were experiencing something of a hangover after their Champions League victory, but no credit should be taken away from the Blues in what was another committed, high quality performance. Where has this outfit been all season?

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“Today was a must-win game against a really good team, but it was a good game and a great show of will to keep our hope of finishing in the top four alive,” Antonio Conte said afterwards. “I'm very happy for the players and the fans. They deserve this type of game and this win.

“Our target is to finish the season in the best possible way and to give the best satisfaction to all the fans. I think in spite of the difficult season we are still alive and are fighting until the end.”

Conte’s words confirm what the recent performances have alluded to: the Blues have not given up on fourth place just yet. It’s a longshot of course given the mathematical advantage held by Liverpool and Tottenham, but as the Italian suggested all we can do is win our games and see what happens.

And that starts with the visit of Huddersfield on Wednesday….

Chelsea Team News

It seems that the switch to 3-5-1-1 has a sense of permanence to it, rather than being a mere experiment, with Olivier Giroud once again getting the nod up front with Eden Hazard playing in behind.

And again, it worked like a treat against Liverpool; shutting down the middle of the pitch and minimising the space available to their roaming wingers Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

The emphasis will be more on us to attack against the Terriers on Wednesday, but even so you suspect Conte won’t change anything – although Willian will be given a brief to stay loose and ready to go on the Blues bench should a reshuffle be required.

There’s no immediate concerns regarding the starting eleven either. Alvaro Morata has picked up a knock but should be fit to take his place on the bench, while the seasons of David Luiz and Danny Drinkwater appear to be over.

Chelsea vs Huddersfield Head to Head

December’s league meeting between these two teams was the first in more than 20 years, with goals from Bakayoko, Willian and Pedro enough to seal a 3-1 victory.

Other than that there have been the occasional cup fixture between the sides, with Chelsea twice triumphing in the FA Cup and falling to defeat in the League Cup back in 1999.

Our meetings in the 1920s and 30s were rather more frequent, and overall we enjoy a 29-27 lead over the Terriers, with just nine draws.

How the Match Will Be Won

There is so much at stake for Huddersfield in this match, and they are in grave danger of being sucked into the relegation battle unless they pick up at least a point at the Bridge on Wednesday.

They set up a defensive wall at Manchester City on Sunday – you can hardly blame them for that, and came away with a precious point from a 0-0 draw. You wonder if they will erect something similar on Wednesday evening.

They will play with five at the back, the tenacious duo of Aaron Mooy and Alex Pritchard in midfield and the sizeable Steve Mounie in attack. But the pervading sense is that the Terriers won’t exactly be going gung ho for all three points.

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And so we can expect plenty of time on the ball and the opportunity to carve out chances at our own pace; it will be interesting to see how the players react to that.

Given that Huddersfield will line up with three physical centre backs, the opportunity to feed crosses into Olivier Giroud may be in short supply.

So the more nuanced probing of Hazard and Fabregas will be key, and it may be that the odd moment of magic is required to break down this Terriers rearguard.

But our boys are full of confidence at the moment, and will surely fancy the job.

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