Wednesday 9th May, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea were back in action again, this time at home v Huddersfield Town, with just two games left to play to close out the 2017/18 Premier League season.

These teams last met in the league in December. Chelsea got a 3-1 win away, courtesy of an own goal from Chris Lowe, and two more from Willian and Pedro. Laurent Depoitre scored Huddersfield’s consolation in injury time.

At the start of this game Huddersfield were 17th in the table, three points above Swansea City in 18th. They had taken just one win and two draws from their last five games, five points from a possible fifteen; but one of those draws came against 2018 Champions Manchester City at the Etihad. They were looking to at least repeat the feat today at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea came into this game on the back of four straight premier league wins, their best streak of the season so far. Their last game had been a massively important 1-0 win over Champions League finalists Liverpool. They were still fifth at the end of that game, but the win helped keep their faint hopes of Champions League qualification alive.

Huddersfield manager David Wagner brought Rajiv van La Parra, Laurent Depoitre and Philip Billing into his starting eleven, and set his team up in an ultra-defensive 5-3-2 to counter Chelsea’s attacking 3-4-3.

Antonio Conte made six changes to the team that played Liverpool. Alvaro Morata, Andreas Christensen, Willian, Pedro, and Davide Zappacosta all started. Thibaut Courtois was out with a back injury, so Willy Caballero started in his place.

Line-Ups & Ratings

Chelsea

Caballero 5.5, Zappacosta 6 (Giroud 6.5), Azpilicueta 7.5, Christensen 6.5, Rudiger 6.5, Alonso 7, Kante 7.5, Fabregas 5, Willian 7, Pedro 6 (Hazard 6.5). Morata 6

Subs Eduardo, Cahill, Bakayoko, Barkley, Moses, Hazard, Giroud

Huddersfield Town

Lossl 8, Lowe 6 (Hadergjonaj 6), Schindler 7, Zanka 6.5, Kongolo 7, Smith 6.5 (Malone 5.5), Hogg 7, Mooy 7.5, Billing 7, van La Parra 6 (Pritchard 6), Depoitre 8

Subs Coleman, Mounie, Malone, Pritchard, Ince, Quaner, Hadergjonaj

Big Moments

Stifling Defence

Huddersfield started the game as they had against City: compact, defending deep and looking to counter. They were pretty effective at restricting Chelsea’s chances, but were themselves limited to hopeful attempts off a couple of set pieces in the first half.

Marcos Alonso registered the game’s first shot on target a few minutes in. It was a low strike from inside the box, and Jonas Lossl put it out of play.

Antonio Rudiger almost scored off a corner on eleven minutes: Cesar Azpilicueta headed the ball to him at the far post, but the German defender put the ball wrong side of the upright from close range.

Morata connected with an impressive snapshot off a deep cross from Fabregas, but Lossl reacted well to save and hold the ball.

Morata had his team’s best chance of the game five minutes from half time. N’golo Kante put him in on goal with a brilliant through ball from the edge of the box. Morata’s first touch took him round the goalkeeper, but a little too far wide to score – he could only hook the ball harmlessly along the goal-line.

The game stayed goalless until half time, with the Chelsea players showed their frustration as they went in for the break. Credit to Wagner and Huddersfield though, they were once again executing their game plan away from home against strong opposition.

Depoitre Strikes Again

Rudiger had another great chance off a Willian free kick three minutes into the second half, but his header sailed high over the bar.

A minute later Huddersfield scored, completely against the run of play. Christopher Schindler tackled the ball off Willian in defence, and Aaron Mooy hit a long ball up the pitch that completely caught out Chelsea’s back three.

Caballero rushed out to cover Depoitre, but the Huddersfield striker’s shot came off the keeper and back to his feet. Depoitre only had to chip an easy finish over Rudiger to make it 1-0.

Springing the Lock

Conte reacted quickly to the goal, first bringing in Giroud for Zappacosta and then Hazard for Pedro a few minutes later.

The reinforcements helped spring the lock: four minutes after the Hazard sub, Azpilicueta zipped a low cross into the box. Zanka tried to intercept, but his clearance bounced off Marcos Alonso’s head and into the net for 1-1.

It was Alonso’s seventh league goal this season. He barely knew anything about it, it was a lucky goal, but Chelsea had flooded the penalty box with bodies. It was the kind of luck you make by being there for the opportunity when it comes.

Even as they equalized though, the news filtered in that Harry Kane had scored at Wembley to put Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 up v Newcastle United. As it stood, Chelsea were not getting past Spurs into the CL places.

Midway through the second half, Philip Billing got the better of Cesc Fabregas in midfield and took the ball up the pitch on the counter. He tried a shot from outside the box, but the ball curled just wide of the post.

Chelsea almost got the ball in off a corner after a mighty scramble in the box. Rudiger and Fabregas had shots blocked, and then Andreas Christensen came up with a powerful header, but Lossl made one of the saves of the season to tip it against the post.

Fabregas had another shot blocked late on. Giroud hit the rebound with an acrobatic volley, but the ball went off the pitch and out of play.

Good Value

It was an immensely disappointing performance from Chelsea, especially after their heroics against Liverpool. But it was also completely reflective of their season so far; just the latest in a long string of disappointments for the club in 2018.

Huddersfield were good value for the point. They were fighting for Premier League survival, and they played well enough to get it. As their fans celebrated in the stands, Hollywood star Patrick Stewart among them, David Wagner and his players hugged and cheered out on the pitch.

Mission accomplished Huddersfield, but unfortunately, a bridge too far for Chelsea FC.

Final Score Chelsea 1-1 Huddersfield Town

Thumbnail image courtesy of: FourFourTwo

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  1. […] four days before, Huddersfield Town had brought an end to the Blues’ four game win streak, on their way to themselves escaping […]

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About Ugo Nwogwugwu

Gamer and Chelsea fan since the late 90's! When I'm not caught up in family or work stuff, I'm all about the incredible, always entertaining, Chelsea FC.

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