Huddersfield 0-3 Chelsea Match Review
Love it or hate it, the opening day fixture of the English Premier League is on par with any other celebration of the year. It brings community from all walks of life throughout the world, for one day at least. After all, it’s the one-time fans would like to have their first glimpse with all the brouhaha related signings of the summers.
These days, it’s a lot more meaningful for me considering Huddersfield Town is involved. Playing against one of the biggest club in England if not the world, says a lot just about how far we have come from the day we've opened against Stockport County 10 years ago.
In all honesty, we weren't expecting a repeat of last season's magic against Crystal Palace. That will be too much to ask against Chelsea now looking more hipster than ever following the appointment of Maurizio Sarri. But as a fan, having a sense of optimism isn't a crime and the only I can ask for, is the players to give their best on the field.
Let’s talk about the lineup.
There were some questions on David Wagner choice for the match day one fixture. The only new signing that made the start was goalkeeper Ben Hamer. Wagner resorted to the same faces that featured heavily last season. He deployed the usual 5-3-1-1 formation when facing against a top six side.
By just one peek, it may look a premature to send your lone striker, Steve Mounie mustered in between David Luiz and Antonio Rüdiger. The free willy wing backs of Florent Hadergjonaj and Chris Löwe will need to work harder from the flanks since the only creative option from the middle is Alex Pritchard. If they can't press forward, the central midfield trio of Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg and Phillip Billing will need to cover the three-back line.
Of course, with such strategy you would expect Town be in the pushed to the rear by Sarriball? Well that wasn't the case.
Wagner's resolution was always going to be simple, never back down on your ideals. For the most part during the first half, it was good to see the Terriers pressing Chelsea all the way. The only thing perhaps we didn't do was testing Kepa Arrizabalaga. Otherwise, the team did exactly it was set out to do. We forced Chelsea to work harder in breaking us down.
Eventually, a somewhat bizzare finishing from N'golo Kante and penalty from Jorginho did the damage. Had Mounie's effort didn't hit the post, perhaps the outcome might have been different. Two goals behind may have flatter any team but its an understatement that we've been poor in the first half. Especially the manner which those goals were scored.
It may be an unsound call to replace Pritchard for Laurent Depoitre in the second half. Wagner was looking Depoitre's mobility to trouble Chelsea and give Mounie some support inside the 18 yard. That wasn't the case at all. While the Belgian did part of the job, it was evident that him and Mounie are never compatible as a strike partner.
In the end, Chelsea were just too good of being an opposition. Eden Hazard assist to Pedro with 10 minutes to play concluded the afternoon. By far, the most genuine goal you could expect from a club as big as Chelsea.
Of course, Wagner should have brought in on some of the summer signings in this game. But reality remains against a club like Chelsea with a vast resources and squad depth, it wasn't going to make that much of difference. Sure, we could have tried to push our luck but as the saying goes, its wise to pick your battles which you have a better chance of winning. For us, against Chelsea or the next one against Manchester City isn't our battle.
It didn't take that long for elitist supporters to start the catechize machine on whether the club like Huddersfield Town deserves to be in the Premier League. Hate us or like us, we are here because we did what was needed to survive in the Premier League that was ensuring we didn't finish in the bottom three.
We know there is never going to be a repeat of last season's tremendous start. I do expect every team we face will step up big time knowing not to take things lightly when playing against “little” Huddersfield. It’s been going to long season, I believe the club and Wagner has prepared for just that. I also believe that Wagner has already address all the issues that needs to be fixed for this season.
Of course, only time will tell if this is going to work for us. Till then, let’s just remind ourselves, one game doesn't define a season. On to the next one!