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Preview: Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League meeting between Chelsea and Huddersfield Town.
By , Senior Reporter | 4mo

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri will be after an immediate response on Saturday when his side take on Premier League basement boys Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues suffered a shock 4-0 loss at Bournemouth in midweek to slip out of the top four and see the pressure grow on manager Sarri, who has been in charge for less than seven months.


The four-goal hammering at the Vitality Stadium was Chelsea's heaviest loss in the top flight since 1996 and was the first time supporters appeared to actively turn on the man in the dugout.

Visiting fans were frustrated at the Italian's decision to take off new signing Gonzalo Higuain and replace him with Olivier Giroud, though the man brought in to solve the Blues' goalscoring problems made barely any impact during his hour on the pitch.

Chelsea dominated the first half on the south coast but their 405 passes led to just five shots at goal - a familiar theme as supporters grow more and more frustrated with the famed 'Sarri-ball' style of play.

Sarri's side also suffered a 2-0 loss to Arsenal in their most recent Premier League match prior to Wednesday and are now aiming to avoid losing three consecutive Premier League defeats for the first time since November 2015.

The defeat at the Emirates Stadium left the race for the top four wide open, and the midweek results provided another twist in the battle for Champions League football. By virtue of the four-goal hammering at Bournemouth, Chelsea are now behind Arsenal - 2-1 winners against Cardiff City 24 hours beforehand - on goal difference.

Manchester United are also just two points worse off in sixth, so Sarri's side cannot afford this blip to go on any longer if they are to avoid missing out on Champions League football in successive campaigns under owner Roman Abramovich for the first time.

Scoring goals, despite the addition of Higuain, remains a big problem for the West London outfit, failing to score in their last two Premier League matches and in three of their last six home games - more than they had in their previous 21 combined in the competition (2).

Chelsea are at least through to the EFL Cup final thanks to their penalty win over Tottenham Hotspur last week, while also overcoming Sheffield Wednesday to set up a tasty FA Cup last-16 tie with Man United next month.

As proved last season when Antonio Conte lifted the FA Cup, however, anything less than a top-four finish could well be enough to cost Sarri his job come the summer. A return to form in the Premier League is needed - and fast.

Recent form in Premier League: WWDWLL
Recent form (all competitions): LWLWWL

Huddersfield Town

A new manager did not bring a change of fortunes for Huddersfield as they fell to a 1-0 loss at home to Everton in Jan Siewert's first game in charge.

Siewert has taken on what many have labelled an impossible job of sorts at the John Smith's Stadium, tasked with keeping the Terriers in the top flight despite already being cut well adrift of safety.

The gap on 17th place has only grown wider in Siewert's first full week at the helm, with five of the six teams directly above Huddersfield picking up at least a point in midweek - Cardiff in 18th being the exception.

Town have now lost 11 of their last 12 matches in all competitions, including an early FA Cup exit at Championship side Bristol City earlier this month, since picking up a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on November 25.

Their only point came in a must-win match against fellow strugglers Cardiff, leading to David Wagner's exit by mutual consent. Wagner's successor Siewert now has 14 games remaining to make up 12 points on the sides above the dotted line, starting with games against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Huddersfield have won none of their 19 Premier League games against sides who are not newly-promoted to the division this season, having only beaten Fulham and Wolves so far.

The side starting the day bottom of the division have lost 11 of their last 12 away Premier League games against big-six sides, meanwhile, losing by an aggregate score of 36-3. The only exception was a West Bromwich Albion victory against Man Utd at Old Trafford last season.

If the omens were not bad enough for the Terriers, their last permanent manager to win his first away league match in charge was Neil Warnock in August 1993 - a 3-2 win at Rotherham United in the third tier. It seems that Siewert really does have his work cut out.

Recent form in Premier League: LLLDLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLLDLL

Team News

Sarri suggested that Higuain is struggling for fitness following the loss to Bournemouth, but the under-fire Italian is expected to stick with the Juventus loanee on Saturday.

If not, it is between Giroud and Eden Hazard to lead the line, though the latter has made it clear that he is not a fan of playing through the middle.

Hazard much prefers being used out wide, where he has had a hand in nine goals in his last seven Premier League appearances against sides starting the day bottom - five goals of his own and four assists.

Emerson Palmieri was handed a first league start of the season at the Vitality Stadium but will likely be replaced by Marcos Alonso here, while Andreas Christensen - assuming he does not depart on deadline day - is an option to replace either Antonio Rudiger or David Luiz in the heart of defence.

Elsewhere, Callum Hudson-Odoi is pushing for a recall after dropping out of the squad entirely in midweek and Mateo Kovacic's spot in midfield is also under threat.

In terms of the visitors, Aaron Mooy made a welcome return to action from the bench against Everton and is now in contention to start for the first time since December 8 following Australia's recent Asian Cup exit.

Philip Billing has less chance of featuring, though, having sat out his side's last two games with a knee injury, so Jason Puncheon may continue to operate in central midfield.

Another new signing in Karlan Grant, brought in from Charlton Athletic this week, is expected to be part of the Terriers' travelling squad.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Higuain, Hazard

Huddersfield Town possible starting lineup:
Lossl; Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo; Puncheon, Hogg, Mooy; Kachunga, Mounie, Diakhaby

Head To Head

Chelsea have suffered defeat in just one of their last 16 meetings with Huddersfield in all competitions, coming in the League Cup third round a little over 19 years ago.

The Terriers are winless in 10 top-flight matches against this weekend's opponents, meanwhile, stretching back to a 1-0 victory in October 1954.

The reverse meeting earlier this season ended in a 3-0 triumph for Sarri's men in the Italian's first competitive game in charge of the club.

We say: Chelsea 3-0 Huddersfield Town

Chelsea have not lost any of their last 14 home league matches against 'Town' sides, winning 11 of those since a 3-1 defeat to Luton Town in September 1986. That run does not look likely to end on Saturday as, despite the manner of their surprise loss at Bournemouth, the Blues should still have enough in them to ease past bottom side Huddersfield.

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