Maurizio Sarri’s first Premier League game saw Chelsea travel up north to face David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town and the Blues came away with three goals, three points and a clean sheet in a brilliant 3-0 win.
Eden Hazard was given a place on the bench after only returning to training on Monday, while Kepa Arrizabalaga and Jorginho were both handed their league debuts. From the start, it was clear that Sarri had enforced his ‘high press’ as his players didn’t give the hosts room to breathe in possession. Although, they found it hard to break through a resolute defensive unit with Alvaro Morata having the only chance inside the first 15 minutes only to be flagged offside.
Ross Barkley and Willian began to take the game by the scruff of the neck with driving runs and the latter would’ve gone through one-on-one on the half an hour mark if it wasn’t for a last-ditch tackle from Terence Kongolo. However, the Terriers’ resilience was broken less than five minutes later as Willian’s whipped cross was turned home by N’Golo Kante on the half-volley. The World Cup winner couldn’t hold back his smile as you’d expect and fair enough after such a well-controlled finish!
Huddersfield almost replied instantly as Aaron Mooy’s corner was flicked on by Zanka towards Steve Mounie, who could only direct his header onto the post, leaving Kepa rooted to the spot. The visitors were then awarded a soft penalty on the stroke of half-time as Marcos Alonso went down under Christopher Schindler’s tackle. Jorginho, on debut, stepped up and sat Ben Hamer down before slotting the ball into the gaping net which gave the Blues a deserved 2-0 lead at the break.
The second half began with Chelsea still firmly on the front foot and Alonso almost made it 3-0 as his curled effort crashed back off the crossbar which had beaten the Huddersfield stopper. Hamer’s counterpart then made a decent save, crucially tipping Philip Billing’s header over the bar despite being given a goal kick afterwards.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Eden Hazard were introduced in the closing 25 minutes in place of Ross Barkley and Willian, who both had very good games in their respective positions. Belgium’s World Cup star didn’t take long to be at the forefront of the action as he slipped the ball into Pedro who did the rest by getting hold of the ball and dinking it over the onrushing keeper.
Even with just a 15-minute cameo, Hazard seems to have picked up where he left off in Russia and should he stay at Stamford Bridge, he could be in for yet another fantastic Premier League campaign. A 3-0 opening day win, albeit against a lesser side, certainly isn’t a bad way for Sarri to start life in English football and he’ll be desperate to see more of the same as the season continues.
Next up for the FA Cup winners is the visit of Arsenal to the Bridge next Saturday, the first real league test of the new season.