By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
John Smith’s Stadium/December 12, 2017
Antonio Conte and his team will surely be ruing the missed points at the London Stadium on Saturday after Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all dropped points on Sunday. Had we won against the Hammers on Saturday, we’d have been on the same points with United while leading the trio of Liverpool, Arsenal Spurs by 5, 6 and 7 points respectively but that wasn’t to be as we succumbed to a much more determined and spirited West Ham performance. So on to the John Smith’s Stadium we go on Tuesday night for our third match in one week with yet another one waiting this upcoming weekend. David Wagner’s Terriers stopped a dismal run of four successive losses with their win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Chelsea will be looking to put the loss to West Ham at the weekend behind them while the Terriers will be looking to continue their recent form which should make for an exciting encounter for the neutrals.
This will be the first match between these two teams in the Premier League but over the years they have faced off 64 times with Chelsea winning 28 and Huddersfield 27 with the remaining 9 ending in draws. All but 8 of the 64 matches have been in league competitions (Division One & Two) with the remaining eight being in cup competitions (League cup 2 & FA Cup 6) with Chelsea winning 5 of those (L2 D1). Chelsea have won seven of our last 10 encounters against Huddersfield (L1 D2) and in the last ten visit to Huddersfield Town we have come out tops in 5 (L4 D1).
Antonio Conte will surely be looking for ways to freshen up his side ahead of the trip to Huddersfield after their tiresome display at the London Stadium on Saturday. Victor Moses should be back in the starting lineup after his substitute appearance against West Ham at the weekend. Danny Drinkwater didn’t make the trip to East London due to an illness but should be back in the team even if it’s just among the subs. Toni Rudiger has missed the last two matches after playing the whole of the previous two so the German should be well rested should the coach decide to turn to him for this match. N’Golo Kante has started every Chelsea game since making his return from injury against Manchester United early last month and he’s also due for a rest if the coach so decides even though he was our best player at the London Stadium at the weekend by a country mile. Eden Hazard was a little subdued against West Ham due to the opposition having numbers behind the ball and the playing surface is a little too small compared to others in the league, but should be back to his best if he’s chosen to start at Huddersfield. Alvaro Morata will be cursing himself after missing that sitter late on against West Ham that could have changed the final outcome and will be looking for a quick redemption, but I’ll be very surprised if he makes the starting lineup on Tuesday night because he looked tired almost throughout the game on Saturday. Should the coach decide to give him this game off Michy Batshuayi, who scored a brace for the U21s against MK Dons last Wednesday just a day after returning to the team, should be ready to take his place. Fabregas has only missed two games for Chelsea all season and is also due for a rest with the fixtures continuing to pile up as we approach the end of the year. Davide Zappacosta has shown he’s comfortable playing at left wing back having switched there when Marcos Alonso was substituted at the weekend after starting there against Atletico Madrid, and should Conte decide to rest Alonso the Italian is more than a capable replacement. Andreas Christensen has been nothing short of phenomenal as he continues to rack up the minutes but at 21, and considering the intensity of the Premier League, he cannot continue playing every game to avoid a burn out and hopefully the coach is also thinking in the same direction. Willian and Pedro have not been involved as they would have liked and Tuesday is another opportunity for the pair of them to play their way into the coach’s plans.
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Cahill; Victor Moses, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Zappacosta; Hazard, Batshuayi.
Last Five Matches: LDWWW
Injuries: David Luiz (Knee) –Out;
David Wagner will surely be hoping for their good fortunes to continue when the defending Premier League champions comes to town on Tuesday night. One name that’s sure to be on the team sheet on Tuesday is Steven Mounie having scored a brace at the weekend to give the Terriers their first win in five Premier League matches. The Benin internationals striker scored a brace on his debut against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season and hasn’t scored since the weekend so the coach will likely be turning to him to bang in the goals against the champions. David Wagner likes to set up in a 4-2-3-1 but tweaked his formation in back to back games against Manchester City and Arsenal. He used five across the midfield against City to try and suppress the Citizen’s dominance in midfield and against Arsenal he used a 3-4-3 formation with a back three of Martin Cranie, Christopher Schindler and Mathias Jorgensen. Florent Hadergjonaj and Chris Lowe played in the wingback positions with Jonathan Hogg and Aaron Mooy playing in central midfield with the trio of Elias Kachunga, Collin Quaner and Steven Mounie completing the lineup. Depending on what the plan is, Tom Ince is another option in attack and Daniel Williams have partnered Mooy in midfield this season and could be called up on Tuesday night, and so can the duo of Tom Smith and Scott Malone at full back.
Lossl; Smsith, Jorgensen, Schindler, Malone; Mooy, Hogg; Kachunga, Ince, Quaner; Mounie.
Last 5 matches: WLLLL
Injuries: Jon Gorenc Stankovic (Cruciate Ligament) –Out; Michael Hefele (Achilles) –Out; Phil Billing (Ankle) –Out.
Michy Batshuayi vs. Christopher Schindler
Michy Batshuayi hasn’t earned enough of Antonio Conte’s trust to command a starting role but on the basis of Saturday’s performance he should come back into the starting 11 to relieve Morata for a bit, and if that is the case he will have to devise a means of getting the better of Schindler who’s as athletic as he is physical.
Cesc Fabregas vs. Aaron Mooy
This is an exciting duel to look forward to as both these players are responsible for their side’s attacking play and as such will be looking to get the better of one another. The final result may depend on which of these two come out on top. I cannot wait for this game kick off!
Antonio Rudiger vs. Steve Mounie
I’m expecting to see Rudiger play at the heart of our defence to give young Andreas Christensen some time to rest and recuperate ahead of the festive fixtures. The German is sure to have his hands full facing Mounie who will be on a high following his two-goal showing at the weekend but I believe Rudiger will be up to whatever the Benin striker throw at him.
Antonio Conte and his team escaped punishment for their poor showing at the London Stadium at the weekend after none of the chasing packs were able to capitalise which means we’ll begin this fixture in third just as we did at the weekend. Conte will have told his players to avoid a slow start after conceding the first goal in each of our last three matches and while we were able to rally and salvaged something from two of those games against Atletico Madrid and Newcastle that ultimately proved a bridge too far at the weekend as David Moyes’ side held on for the three points. On paper, we have a favourable run of fixture coming up and we must be up for every one of those matches in other to avoid what happened last weekend. Keep The Blue Flag Flying High, peeps!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Getty Images
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