Huddersfield v Chelsea preview

Huddersfield v Chelsea preview: Terriers are used to underdog role, says David Wagner

Last Updated: 10/08/18 2:31pm

David Wagner hopes his Huddersfield side can spring an opening-day surprise

Chelsea could include a host of new faces, including the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, in their starting line-up against Huddersfield this weekend but David Wagner is not worrying about the opposition.

Wagner’s Huddersfield are preparing for their second season in the Premier League after defying expectations by sealing their survival with a game to spare last season, against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The German manager is pleased with his summer business and is not concerned by facing a heavyweight opponent first up in the league.

“I’m not focused on what Chelsea have done, what signings they’ve done or their change of manager,” said Wagner.

“I think we know everything what we have to know in terms of who will be available and what formation they will choose, and then it’s all about us.

Wagner says Huddersfield have made a big statement keeping Schindler

“I don’t think we have to discuss the quality about the opponent we face – it’s all about us to show the passion, the desire and the spirit to be brave and this is what we will do tomorrow.

“The road is clear as to who the favourite is and who the underdog is. This isn’t something new for us, we are used to this role and we take it. We’ll try our best and see what we can get out of this game.”

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri feels his squad is “complete” after the signings of goalkeeper Kepa and midfielder Mateo Kovacic earlier this week.

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is happy with his summer transfer business

“I’m very happy for both, because the Courtois situation was clear,” Sarri said at his press conference ahead of the Blues’ Premier League opener at Huddersfield on Saturday.

“He wanted to go to Madrid, so we lost maybe one of the most important goalkeepers in the world now. We bought a young goalkeeper, I think one of the most important amongst the young goalkeepers in Europe.

“I’m really happy with Kovacic. He has the characteristics for us. I’m really very happy and I think now the squad is complete.”

Team news

Huddersfield are without Elias Kachunga and Danny Williams (both ankle) as well as Erik Durm (fitness) but Wagner will be able to call upon new club-record signing Terence Kongolo following a successful loan spell last season.

Isaac Mbenza is also in contention after joining on loan from Montpellier on deadline day, while Ramadan Sobhi and Adama Diakhaby could all make debuts.

Kepa Arrizabalaga will make his Chelsea debut at the John Smith’s Stadium

Kepa is in line to make his first appearance for Chelsea since joining from Athletic Bilbao with Jorginho also set for his Premier League debut.

Kovacic is not yet fit to play while Eden Hazard and Willian are also unlikely to start. Sarri will also assess the fitness of N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud.

Match stats

  • Huddersfield are without a win in their last eight league meetings with Chelsea, (D3 L5), with their last league victory over the Blues coming in March 1963, via a 2-1 away win in the old Division Two.
  • At home, Huddersfield have lost each of their last four league clashes with Chelsea; they’ve never lost five in a row on home soil in the league against a single opponent.
  • Chelsea have only lost one of their last 19 opening weekend fixtures in the Premier League (W15 D3 L1), though it came in last season’s opener against Burnley.
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League visits to Yorkshire (W6 D2), since a 0-2 loss at Leeds in December 2002.
  • Chelsea failed to win either of their last two Premier League games in 2017-18. The last time they went on a three-match winless run in the competition was in September 2016, after which they embarked on a 13-match winning streak.
  • No side has lost more Premier League games (10) or earned fewer Premier League points (13) in 2018 than Huddersfield.
  • Willian was involved in all three of Chelsea’s goals as they won 3-1 in this fixture last season, scoring one and assisting the other two.

Premier League weekend preview

Merson’s prediction

Huddersfield have got to start well. David Wagner performed miracles keeping them up last season and they were helped by a good start. This is a really tough game for them.

Chelsea have their problems but I just feel they’ll have too much for Huddersfield. They went there last season and were a class above, and they’ll want to impress their new manager.

PAUL PREDICTS: 0-2 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

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