MX23RW : Sunday, February 17 14:53:09

Live Commentary: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Chelsea - as it happened

Relive Chelsea's 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town as goals from N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Pedro get the Blues off to a winning start in the Premier League.
Live Commentary: Huddersfield 0-3 Chelsea - as it happened
© Reuters

Maurizio Sarri's reign as Chelsea manager got off to a winning start this afternoon courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in their Premier League opener at the John Smith's Stadium.

N'Golo Kante was the unlikely scorer of the game's first goal, before debutant Jorginho doubled the advantage from the penalty spot to give the visitors a flattering half-time lead.

Huddersfield rarely looked capable of clawing their way back into the match, though, and the result was wrapped up once and for all 10 minutes from time when Pedro added a third goal.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.

2pmGood afternoon! The Premier League is well and truly back after a glorious summer which saw the Russia World Cup delight fans and England restore faith in the national team with a run to the semi-finals!

It is the turn of Huddersfield Town and Chelsea to get their domestic campaigns underway at the John Smith's Stadium today, with plenty of intrigue surrounding both teams ahead of the 2018-19 season.

We will take a close look at both clubs in a short while, but let's start with the team news...

2.02pmHUDDERSFIELD STARTING XI: Hamer; Hadergjonaj, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe; Mooy, Hogg, Billing; Pritchard, Mounie

2.02pmHUDDERSFIELD SUBS: Lossl, Smith, Diakhaby, Ramadan, Van la Parra, Depoitre, Stankovic

2.04pmCHELSEA STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Barkley; Willian, Pedro, Morata

2.04pmCHELSEA SUBS: Caballero, Christensen, Zappacosta, Moses, Loftus-Cheek, Hazard, Giroud

2.06pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then?

Well, the headline news as far as Chelsea are concerned is that Kepa Arrizabalaga is handed his debut between the sticks, having only arrived for a world-record sum earlier this week.

The new most expensive goalkeeper of all time replaces Thibaut Courtois for Chelsea - and manager Maurizio Sarri has already admitted that he is not yet at Courtois's level - but he has certainly shown enough signs during his career so far that he has the ability to get to that sort of standard.

A seven-year contract is a huge show of faith in the shot-stopper, and he will be keen to begin repaying that this afternoon.

2.08pmKepa is one of two new signings to make their Premier League debuts for Chelsea today, with the other seeing Jorginho start in midfield alongside World Cup winner N'Golo Kante and Ross Barkley, the latter of whom has barely played for the club since his move from Everton.

Chelsea pulled off something of a coup by beating Manchester City to the signing of Jorginho and he looks very well suited to the Premier League, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on today.

2.10pmAnother player keen to impress will be Alvaro Morata, who now looks to have a future at Stamford Bridge despite numerous reports linking him with a move away from the club this summer following an underwhelming debut season in English football.

The Spaniard lost his place to Olivier Giroud towards the end of last season, but he gets the nod from Sarri to lead the line today, with Giroud on the bench. Whether that decision is influenced by Giroud's World Cup exploits remains to be seen, but this is a good opportunity for Morata to remind people why Chelsea paid such big money for him.

Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring for Chelsea on September 23, 2017© Reuters

2.12pmWillian has also been linked with a move away from the club this summer, but he starts today while Eden Hazard only makes the bench having made it to the final weekend of the World Cup with Belgium. Keeping Hazard must be Chelsea's off-field priority in the coming weeks, with reports linking him to Real Madrid refusing to go away.

One big change for Chelsea this season will be getting to grips with the new 4-3-3 formation after so long under the 3-4-3 system which brought them success under Antonio Conte. Rudiger and the back-in-favour David Luiz are given the nod at the heart of the defence today.

2.14pmHuddersfield, meanwhile, mostly struggled for goals last season, so there will be plenty of onus on their forwards to improve this term if they are to survive a second campaign in the top flight.

Pritchard and Mounie lead the line this afternoon as they look to get off to a good start, but it is Laurent Depoitre - who only makes the bench - who has scored their previous two Premier League goals against Chelsea.

2.16pmThe Terriers are without Elias Kachunga and Danny Williams due to injury today, while new signing Erik Durm needs more time in training before he is up to the required fitness for the Premier League, but aside from that Wagner has a fully fit squad to choose from for this season opener.

There are a number of new faces in the ranks too, although the likes of Diakhaby and Ramadan Sobhi both have to settle for a place on the bench.

2.18pmOne new signing does start for Huddersfield, though, with Ben Hamer being given the gloves ahead of Jonas Lossl, who was Huddersfield's number one last season but looks set to play a backup role this time around.

Terence Kongolo is also technically a new signing - a club-record one, no less - but he is not a new face in the team having made his loan move from Monaco permanent this summer.

2.20pmOne concern for Huddersfield fans may be that today's starting XI is very similar to the one which finished last season, though, with only two changes from that match against Arsenal - new signing Hamer and Billing replacing Lossl and the departed Ince.

Huddersfield did what they needed to do last term, of course, and there are other new players to come in, but they will likely need to be even better this season and today's starting XI does not exactly suggest a huge amount of improvement.

2.22pmHuddersfield relish being the underdogs, though, and it is a role they will have to play again this season having been tipped as second-favourites behind Cardiff City to be relegated by most bookies.

This is only their second season in the Premier League, and even their promotion was a significant surprise, yet alone staying the division last term. Promoted clubs can often struggle in the second season, but in David Wagner Huddersfield have a manager who can seemingly do no wrong.

Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner watches a pre-season friendly on July 25, 2018© Reuters

2.24pmEven with Wagner at the helm, this season may well be a slog at times for Huddersfield, particularly considering that the teams coming into the division - at least Fulham and Wolves - have splashed the cash to strengthen their squads.

Without taking anything away from the Terriers' achievement of avoiding relegation last season, they were perhaps fortunate that so many teams suffered dreadful campaigns last term. The same may not be the case this time around, so they will need to be better than they were in 2017-18 if they are to make it to a third season in the Premier League.

2.26pmHuddersfield ended up 16th in the Premier League last season, clinching survival with a game to spare - courtesy of a 1-1 draw against today's opponents, incidentally - and ultimately finishing four points clear of the relegation zone.

However, there are a number of issues which need to be addressed this term; only relegated Swansea lost more games than Huddersfield's 19 last season, only Stoke conceded more goals in the bottom six and, crucially, Wagner's side scored a league-low 28 goals all season.

2.28pmThat goal tally must be top of the agenda to fix for Wagner this season, with Huddersfield failing to score in 21 of their 38 top-flight matches last term.

Indeed, Huddersfield ended the campaign by scoring only three goals in their final 10 Premier League games - a poor run of form which included just one victory, four draws and five defeats.

2.30pmThings don't look like getting any easier for them at the start of this season either, with the fixture computer throwing up a horrid run of games for Wagner's side to begin the 2018-19 campaign.

Facing Chelsea first up is difficult enough - even if this may be a good time to take on the Blues - but Huddersfield must then travel to champions Manchester City in their second game of the season. Newly-promoted Cardiff are next up in what could prove to be an early-season six-pointer before Everton and Crystal Palace round off their first five games.

Ominously, Huddersfield will face seven of last season's top nine teams in their opening nine games of the campaign.

2.32pmAs is always the case for teams hoping to avoid relegation, home form will be key for Huddersfield this season, and they may well need to improve on that front too with only four teams amassing fewer points in front of their own fans last term.

The Terriers won just one of their final five home games of the season - scoring just once in that run too - and no team scored fewer goals on their own turf than Wagner's side across the entire campaign.

2.34pmA defeat today would make it three consecutive top-flight home losses in a row for the first time since they were last here in 1972, although pre-season form has been encouraging in the buildup to the new season.

Brushing aside a 3-0 defeat to Accrington Stanley early in their preparations, Huddersfield are otherwise unbeaten so far this summer, with four wins and two draws to go with that defeat. That includes three successive wins in their most recent trio of matches, which has also seen the claim the scalps of Lyon, Bologna and RB Leipzig.

2.36pmChelsea will not be expecting an easy game today, then, particular as they continue to get to grips with Maurizio Sarri's ways following his appointment and Antonio Conte's sacking.

It has been a summer of transition for the Blues, and not one which has gone exactly how the club would have wanted either. The process of getting rid of Conte and appointing Sarri took longer than anyone hoped, leaving the incoming boss with less time to sculpt the team in his image.

However, Sarri did impress at Napoli so it will be interesting to see how he fares in the Premier League.

Maurizio Sarri watches on during the pre-season friendly between Chelsea and Arsenal on August 1, 2018© Reuters

2.38pmChelsea were second best in the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City last weekend, but they have been handed a relatively kind start to the Premier League campaign - aside from a match against London rivals Arsenal in their second outing.

None of their other opening five opponents finished higher than 10th last season, though, with Newcastle, Bournemouth and Cardiff following on from that game against the Gunners.

2.40pmImprovement is the aim of the game for Chelsea this term after their fifth-placed finish last season ultimately cost Conte his job - despite an FA Cup triumph to cap off the campaign.

Chelsea actually won as many games as Liverpool last term, but they finished five points adrift of the Reds courtesy of 10 defeats over the course of the campaign - just the third time in the past 17 seasons that they have reached double figures for number of defeats in a Premier League campaign.

2.42pmIf the rollercoaster past four years is anything to go by, Chelsea should storm to the title again this season having lifted the trophy twice in that time - a record which should not be downplayed during a period when the trophy is being passed around like a hot potato.

However, it is the intervening years between their title wins which have been the biggest disappointments for Chelsea, finishing 10th in 2015-16 and then fifth last season.

2.44pmThere have been warning signs ahead of both those disappointing seasons - from a poor pre-season to Mourinho's infamous opening-day row with Eva Carneiro in 2015-16 and then Conte's fallout with the board last season, not to mention his decision to inform three-time top-scorer Diego Costa that he was no longer needed via a text.

Chelsea lost the opening game of last season too - a 3-2 defeat to Burnley at Stamford Bridge which saw them have two players sent off - so we may be able to learn a decent amount from what happens today.

2.46pmThat Burnley loss was the first time Chelsea had been beaten on the opening day of a Premier League season in the past 19 seasons, winning 15 of those, although Sarri has lost his first top-flight game in charge of his last two clubs - Empoli in 2014 and Napoli a year later.

A two-match winless to end last season also means that a draw or defeat today would see Chelsea go three Premier League games without a win for the first time since September 2016, although that was followed by a 13-match winning streak.

2.48pmIt has been a fairly average pre-season for Chelsea, who beat Perth Glory in their opening friendly but were taken to penalties in all of their ICC matches, beating Inter Milan and Lyon but losing to Arsenal.

Perhaps the best indicator we have had from the summer came in the Community Shield, though, and if that is the case then Sarri has plenty of work still to do if they are to run Man city close for the title this season.

2.50pmPREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff in this season opener, which means that it is time for a prediction!

This is as good a time as any to face a Chelsea team getting to grips with a big change, and most other teams would fancy their chances of getting something out of the game. Huddersfield lack firepower, though, and today may be the start of an arduous campaign for them. I am going for an away win!

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Huddersfield 0-2 Chelsea

2.52pmHuddersfield fans will have to trawl all the way back to March 1963 for their last victory over Chelsea, with that coming in the old Division Town courtesy of a 2-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge.

Since then these two teams have met on eight occasions in the league, with Chelsea winning five of those and the remaining three ending all square.

2.54pmHuddersfield have not beaten Chelsea in a top-flight game since October 1954 when they ran out 1-0 winners at Leeds Road, although that defeat did not prevent Chelsea from going on and winning their first ever league title that season.

The most recent clash between the two sides came just three months ago when Huddersfield's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge was enough to ensure that they would enjoy a second season in the Premier League.

2.56pmThe reverse fixture was a less joyous affair for the Terriers, though, with Willian registering one goal and two assists in a 3-1 victory for Chelsea here in December - Bakayoko and Pedro the other scorers.

Indeed, Huddersfield have now lost each of their last four home league clashes with Chelsea, and another defeat today would make it five in a row against a single opponent for the first time in the club's history.

2.58pmRight, the players are on their way out onto the pitch for the first time this season and we're almost ready for kickoff. A reminder of the team news before we do get started...

HUDDERSFIELD STARTING XI: Hamer; Hadergjonaj, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo, Lowe; Mooy, Hogg, Billing; Pritchard, Mounie

CHELSEA STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Barkley; Willian, Pedro, Morata

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! Chelsea get us underway as both sides begin their 2018-19 campaign!

3 minOne interesting thing to note from the very early stages of this match is that Kante appears to be in a slightly more advanced role than we are used to seeing him, with Jorginho now the holding midfielder. Interesting to see how he copes with that considering how effective he is in his usual position.

4 minAlmost a nightmare start for Hamer on his debut as he puts his defence in big trouble with a poor pass. Chelsea re quick to pounce on it and Morata looks to be clean through on goal, but the flag is up. That was a close one!

6 minGood pressure from Huddersfield high up the pitch as they look to begin their campaign with plenty of energy and gusto. The crowd respond in kind, and there is a cracking atmosphere in the John Smith's Stadium right now.

8 minDavid Wagner will be relatively content with the start his side have made to this match now. They have looked solid so far and appear to have settled quickly, denying Chelsea any early chances.

10 minWillian skips forward before dropping the ball back to Alonso, but the full-back's cross is beyond Morata in the middle and Hamer is able to collect it comfortably.

12 minA lovely touch inside takes the ball into the path of Pritchard, but he lacks support and his attempted pass inside towards Mounie is too far in front of the striker.

13 minGood awareness from Kepa as he comes a long way off his line to sweep up a ball over the top which Mounie looked like getting on to.

15 minChelsea are seeing the vast majority of the ball so far, but they are finding it difficult to break down this Huddersfield side. There have been a few nice passing moves, but it all breaks down when they get into the final third.

17 minHuddersfield are being increasingly pinned back into their own half at the moment, which means that when they do win the ball back, they are unable to hold on to it for too long. The match has fallen into an expected pattern now.

19 minSAVE!  The first shot on target of the match comes from the home side as the ball is whipped in to Pritchard, who has time to take a touch and bring the ball under his spell just outside the area. The midfielder has a swing at it, but it is easy for Kepa.

21 minWe're almost a quarter of the way into this match now and still Chelsea are yet to test Hamer in the Huddersfield goal, despite dominating the possession. It's all a bit toothless so far.

23 minGood pressure from Huddersfield again here, and Chelsea are a bit fortunate to win a free kick in their own penalty area just as the ball fell to Billing.

25 minUPDATE: There are three other games taking place in the Premier League right now, and the first goal of the 3pm kickoffs has gone to Bournemouth. They lead Cardiff 1-0 courtesy of a Ryan Fraser strike.

26 minSHOT!  Huddersfield are the better team at the moment, and Mounie let's one fly from range which zips a yard or so over the crossbar. There was plenty on it from Mounie, but Kepa watched it all the way.

28 minThis is a really good spell for the hosts. They come forward down the left flank once more here and Lowe's cross into the box looks dangerous, but Luiz does well to flick his header away.

30 minLuiz spreads a brilliant pass forward for his compatriot Willian, but the winger's first touch lets him down and by the time he does hook the ball back into the middle it has already gone out of play.

32 minBilling does well to win the ball back off Azpilicueta before laying it to a teammate to get a cross into the middle. Schindler is lining up a volley at the back post, but Mounie gets to the ball first and glances it away from his teammate.


34 minOwn up, who had Kante as Chelsea's first goalscorer for the 2018-19 season?

I questioned how the World Cup winner would fare in a more advanced role, and this is about as good a start as he could have hoped for by already matching last season's goal tally!

Pedro drives forward through the middle and gives the ball out to Willian, whose cross to the back post finds Kante in a bit of space. It isn't a textbook finish by any means - Kante shinned the volley and sent it bouncing into the ground - but it ends up in the back of the net and that is all that matters.

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante celebrates scoring the opening goal of his side's Premier League clash with Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018© Reuters

36 minThat is harsh on Huddersfield, who have been more than a match for Chelsea so far. That was Chelsea's first shot on target and first chance of any note really.

38 minOFF THE POST!  Huddersfield are inches away from a quick response, but somehow the ball stays out!

A corner into the box is flicked on towards the back post where Mounie is waiting, and he steers it towards goal. Kepa is beaten, but the debutant is saved by his upright, with the ball bouncing off the inside of the post and then back out before being hacked away to safety.

40 minUPDATE: There has been a flurry of action elsewhere in the other 3pm kickoffs too; Roberto Pereyra has given Watford the lead with a sweetly-struck volley, while Callum Wilson has missed a penalty for Bournemouth.

42 min

43 minUPDATE: Crystal Palace have taken the lead against newly-promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage, with Jeffrey Schlupp opening the scoring.

44 minPENALTY!  Penalty to Chelsea! Alonso drives into the penalty area, getting on the end of Jorginho's pass before being brought down by Schindler's reckless challenge!


45 minTwo shots on target, two goals for Chelsea. They may not be worthy of a two-goal lead, but they will take one into half time here.

Premier League debutant Jorginho steps up to take the spot kick and is coolness personified, rolling the ball into the net after sending Hamer the wrong way.

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho celebrates scoring during his side's Premier League clash with Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018© Reuters


3.56pmThe first half comes to an end at the John Smith's Stadium, and Huddersfield may be wondering just how they are two goals behind here.

The Terriers have played pretty well so far and have been more than a match for Chelsea, but the Blues have been clinical without being spectacular, scoring with their only two shots on target so far.

3.58pmThe opening goal of the game arrived with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, and it came from an unlikely scorer with N'Golo Kante putting Chelsea in front with a botched volley.

Willian provided the cross to the back post where Kante - who looks set to play in a more advanced position under Sarri - was waiting. Kante's volley was scuffed and bounced into the ground, but crucially it ended up nestling in the far corner.

4pmA second goal arrived right on the stroke of half time, and it was debutant Jorginho who helped himself to it from the penalty spot.

It was a very cool spot kick from the summer signing, who sent the keeper the wrong way before stroking the ball in. Alonso won the penalty after bursting into the box, being brought down by a rash Schindler challenge.

4.02pmHuddersfield will be pretty content with their performance aside from those two goals, although they once again look short of ideas in the final third. The hosts do not deserve to be 2-0 down, but neither have they particularly looked like scoring themselves.


46 minKICKOFF:  Huddersfield get us back underway for the second half, and the first thing to tell you is that the hosts have made a change at the break. Laurent Depoitre is on for Pritchard.

48 minThere is a big mountain for Huddersfield to climb now, and they need to take a few more risks if they are to stand any chance of getting back into this match. They just have not looked like scoring so far today, despite holding their own in open play.

50 minThe supporters have made the referee the pantomime villain after a string of decisions which have gone against their side today, although the biggest one - the penalty - was spot on.

52 minChelsea seem in control of this match now and there could be more goals in it for them as Huddersfield start to chase the game. It may be time for another change sooner rather than later for the hosts.

54 minUPDATE: Pereyra is enjoying a very productive opening day for Watford - he has just doubled the Hornets' lead against Brighton with his second goal of the game.

56 minAlonso does well to keep the ball in down the left flank and swings a cross into the box which Morata strives to meet. Schindler is on hand to put the ball behind for a corner, though.

57 minCHANCE!  Awful defending from Huddersfield from the resulting corner! They are statuesque in the middle, which allows Rudiger to steal between two defenders and plant a header towards the corner which Hamer has to push away.

58 minOFF THE BAR!  Once again Chelsea cause problems from a corner, with Rudiger this time nodded the ball down into a dangerous area rather than going for goal himself. Alonso shows good strength to hold off his marker before producing an acrobatic volley on the turn which comes back off the crossbar!

60 minWe've had an hour of this match now and Chelsea look completely in control here. It is hard to see them letting this lead slip against such an unthreatening attack.

62 minA good move from Chelsea sees Willian pick the ball up on the left flank, and it is no surprise to see him try to cut inside onto his right and go for goal. The defender reads his intentions, though, and his effort is deflected over the bar for a corner.

64 minDanger for Huddersfield here as Morata wins a free kick for Chelsea in a very promising position...

65 minSHOT!  Alonso takes on the free kick duties and gets it over the wall, but it sails a yard or so over the crossbar and was fairly central too.

67 minIt will be interesting to see whether Sarri hands the likes of Hazard and Giroud a run out today. They seem to have the game sewn up already, and it will be a good chance to give them more minutes to get up to speed.

68 minCHELSEA SUB: Sarri does indeed make his first change, but it is another World Cup star who gets the nod as Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Barkley.

69 minYELLOW CARD!  David Luiz is the first Chelsea player in the book this season for a challenge from behind on Depoitre.

71 minHUDDERSFIELD SUB: Change for the hosts here as Adam Diakhaby replaces Lowe.

73 minOFF THE POST!  Huddersfield hit the woodwork for the second time today, although this one never looks like going in. Billing does well to climb high at the back post and meet a free kick, but his header back into the middle is watched all the way by Kepa as it hits the angle and goes behind.

The fans want a corner, but the referee draws their ire even more by awarding a goal kick.

75 minSHOT!  The introduction of Diakhaby has really stirred Huddersfield into life here. Suddenly they look full of life, although their latest attack is blasted over by Depoitre when he had more time than he thought.

76 minCHELSEA SUB: It's time for Eden Hazard! The Belgian comes on for Willian for the final 15 minutes or so.

78 minHuddersfield are looking as likely as ever to get a goal right now, but if they are to get themselves back into this match then they need to claw one back sooner rather than later.


80 minIf there was any lingering doubt about the destination of these three points, that has just been ended with Chelsea's third goal.

Hazard is the architect, driving forward through the middle with a trademark run and drawing the defence before teeing up Pedro, who finds himself in acres of space. The keeper comes out to close the angle, but Pedro cooly dinks the ball over Hamer and in.

Lovely finish.

82 minCHELSEA SUB: That goal was Pedro's last action too; he is replaced by Victor Moses.

83 minYELLOW CARD!  Brilliant from Hazard as he again cuts through the heart of the Huddersfield midfield and defence with ease. He is eventually halted right on the edge of the box, earning Kongolo a yellow card.

84 minHazard tries to take the free kick early, but the wall does its job and blocks the Belgian's effort.

86 minOne of the biggest cheers of the day greets a corner for Huddersfield - ironic cheers at getting a decision from the officials. The resulting delivery is terrible, though, and those cheers are quickly silenced.

88 minHazard has really looked in the mood since coming off the bench. Chelsea simply cannot afford to lose him - he could be the difference between top four and no top four.

90 minGood block from Schindler as he slides in to deny Morata's strike, which looked to be goalbound after a good team move from Chelsea.

90+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.


4.58pmAs starts go, that is a pretty satisfactory one for Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri. They were not at their best for long periods, but they were clinical in the first half and never looked like letting their lead slip after going two in front.

Goals from N'Golo Kante, debutant Jorginho and Pedro ensure that the Blues get off to a winning start in the Premier League, but for Huddersfield there is plenty of work to be done, not least going forward where last season's problems are still evident.

5pmRight, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League opener as Chelsea get their campaign off to a perfect start with a comfortable 3-0 win over Huddersfield. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too!

We also have live coverage of Wolves' return to the top flight against Everton, which you can find by clicking here.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Maurizio Sarri watches on during the pre-season friendly between Chelsea and Arsenal on August 1, 2018
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