Huddersfield Town will be hoping to make a positive start to their Premier League season when they host a new-look Chelsea side led by Maurizio Sarri.
Date: 11 August 2018
Game week 1
Kick-off: 16H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: The John Smith’s Stadium
Referee: C. Kavanagh
Assistants: P. Kirkup, M. Perry
Fourth official: M. Oliver
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Huddersfield 52 22 9 21
Chelsea 52 21 9 22
Chelsea 1-1 Huddersfield 09/05/18 (Premier League)
Chelsea goalscorers: M. Alonso (62′)
Huddersfield goalscorers: L. Depoitre (50′)
Players to watch:
The hosts could start with new signings Terence Kongolo and Adama Diakhaby after the pair made their respective moves from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco. Kongolo is a Netherlands international centre-back while Diakhaby is a striker who has represented France at U21 level.
Chelsea are expected to start with new goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal, while the midfield will have a new look with Ross Barkley and Jorginho most likely making the starting XI in the absence of N’Golo Kante, who is not expected to be ready.
Team form and manager quotes:
The Terriers spent £45million in the recently-closed transfer window in an effort to ensure they are not dragged into a relegation scrap again this season. They have added Isaac Mbenza, Ben Hamer, Ramadan Sobhi, Terence Kongolo, Juninho Bacuna, Erik Durm, Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonas Lossl, and Adama Diakhaby to their squad.
David Wagner’s charges finished 16th in the standings last season, and secured their Premier League survival with a 1-1 draw against Chelsea when the two teams last met.
Asked about Chelsea’s quality, Wagner told his press conference: “We don’t have to discuss the quality of the opponent, it’s all about us. We will see what we can get out of this game.”
On the club’s pre-season preparations, he added: “I am very happy with the pre-season because we had no major injuries. It gives me the confidence to say we had the best pre-season ever.”
Meanwhile, the visitors are looking for an improved performance after being outplayed by defending league champions Manchester City in the Community Shield last Sunday. Sergio Aguero scored twice to secure a 2-0 victory for the Citizens.
With new manager Maurizio Sarri at the helm, the Blues are expected to play a more expansive brand of football than the club’s supporters were used to seeing under Antonio Conte last term.
Sarri has brought in Jorginho, from his former club Napoli, Rob Green, Mateo Kovacic on loan, and most notably goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who was signed for £71.6million on Wednesday to replace Real Madrid new boy Thibaut Courtois.
Asked about new signings Kovacic and Kepa, Sarri told his press conference: “I’m very happy for both, because the Courtois situation was clear. He wanted to go to Madrid. So we lost maybe one of the most important goalkeepers in the world now.
“But we bought a young goalkeeper, I think one of the most important among young goalkeepers in Europe, so I’m really happy. Happy, too, with Kovacic because I think he has the characteristics for us. So I’m really happy and now, I think, the squad is complete.”
Huddersfield are nearly at full strength with only Erik Durm and Danny Williams out injured.
Chelsea are unlikely to have N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, and Olivier Giroud available after their post-World Cup holidays.