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

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview as Premier League champions Chelsea visit Huddersfield Town.

Premier League champions Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to West Ham United on Tuesday night when they travel to the John Smith's Stadium to take on Huddersfield Town.

The hosts have proven to be difficult opposition on home soil this season, though, and go into the match knowing that victory could lift them back into the top half of the table.


Huddersfield

David Wagner watches on during the Premier League game between Huddersfield Town and Manchester United on October 21, 2017© SilverHub

Huddersfield will be delighted with their maiden Premier League campaign so far, having almost reached the halfway stage without ever seriously worrying about dropping into the bottom three.

The closest the Terriers have come to gearing up for a relegation scrap would have been at the start of this month, when they slumped to a fourth consecutive defeat during which time they only scored one goal.

One victory can drastically change the mood for a promoted club, though, and Saturday's 2-0 triumph over Brighton & Hove Albion - another team who came up from the Championship last season - would have restored the feel-good factor around the John Smith's Stadium.

Huddersfield now sit 12th in the table with the prospect of climbing into the top half on Tuesday and, while manager David Wagner will be drilling it into his side that they are by no means safe yet, it is a position they would have snapped your hand off for at the beginning of the season.

Even so, Huddersfield are still only five points clear of the relegation zone and another spell of defeats like the one they suffered recently could easily plunge them deep into the survival battle which, at this stage of the season, looks like it could encompass teams from 10th downwards.

The Terriers do not play a team currently below them in the table before Christmas, though, so Wagner may have to pull off a couple of unexpected results if he is to gift Huddersfield fans a happy holiday period.

The supporters can have no qualms about the team's form at the John Smith's Stadium at least - Huddersfield have won three of their last four games in front of their own fans and Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City are the only visiting teams to have come away with all three points this season - including a famous 2-1 victory over Manchester United.

Huddersfield could claim another big scalp if they condemn Chelsea to back-to-back defeats on Tuesday night, although only Burnley and Swansea City have scored fewer goals at home in the league so far this term.

It is not a match which the Premier League champions will be particularly relishing in front of what is sure to be a passionate crowd in Yorkshire as Huddersfield go in search of back-to-back wins for the first time since the opening two games of the season.

Recent Premier League form: WLLLLW


Chelsea

Antonio Conte celebrates during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Newcastle United on December 2, 2017© SilverHub

Antonio Conte will not have endured many more miserable weeks in charge of Chelsea than the past seven days, and things could get even worse if they slip up on this banana skin.

A 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid last Tuesday was not the worst result in the world, but it did see the Blues miss out on top spot in their Champions League group and their punishment was revealed on Monday when they were drawn against the mighty Barcelona in the last 16.

Sandwiched between those two European blows was an even lower moment as Chelsea fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of struggling West Ham United, with Marko Arnautovic's early goal enough to hand David Moyes his first win in charge of the Hammers.

Chelsea were let off the hook somewhat for that defeat as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal also failed to win, but Manchester City are in no mood to be so forgiving this season and duly extended their lead over the third-placed champions to 14 points.

By Conte's own admission that is likely to be an unassailable gap, and the Italian has since turned his attention to ensuring his side secure a top-four spot at the very least this season.

Just three points separate the Blues from fifth-placed Arsenal as things stand, although Chelsea do not play another one of their direct top-six rivals until facing the Gunners themselves on January 3.

By that stage Conte will surely be on the lookout for reinforcements in the transfer window once again, having seen his side drop 16 points so far this season - just five fewer than they surrendered during the whole of their title-winning 2016-17 campaign.

Despite Chelsea's defeat at the London Stadium on Saturday they can still boast the second-best away record in the division this season, behind only the perfect Manchester City, and with none of their other top-six rivals in action until Wednesday night they know that a return to winning ways on the road would allow them to steal a march on the teams around them in the table.

Indeed, despite a disappointing season by their own standards so far this term Chelsea would move level on points with second should they win at the John Smith's which, in a season when it looks like being a race for the runners-up spot, would still leave them in a strong position.

Recent Premier League form: WWDWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWDL


Team News

David Luiz celebrates opening the scoring during the Champions League group game between Chelsea and Roma on October 18, 2017© SilverHub

David Luiz remains sidelined for the visitors with an ongoing knee injury, which is likely to see Andreas Christensen once again start at the heart of the defence.

Conte could look to make some changes from the defeat to West Ham, though, with Danny Drinkwater expected to return from illness and replace Tiemoue Bakayoko, who was withdrawn at half time against the Hammers.

Victor Moses is also pushing for a start ahead of Davide Zappacosta, while Pedro, Willian and Antonio Rudiger will hope to be the beneficiaries of any rotation from Chelsea.

Huddersfield are still without Philip Billing, Jon Stankovic and Michael Hefele, although the latter is nearing a return and could feature before Christmas.

Wagner has no new injury concerns to worry about and could name a largely unchanged side from the win over Brighton, including two-goal Steven Mounie leading the line.

Huddersfield possible starting lineup:
Lossl; Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Lowe; Mooy, Hogg; Kachunga, Ince, Quaner; Mounie

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses. Fabregas, Kante, Drinkwater, Alonso; Hazard; Morata


Head To Head

This will be the first league meeting between the two sides since February 1984, when Chelsea ran out 3-1 winners at Stamford Bridge, and the first in the top flight since 1972.

Chelsea have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams and lost just one of the last 13, but they have not faced an away visit to Huddersfield since 1983 and this will be their first ever game at the John Smith's Stadium.

The most recent clash came in the fifth round of the FA Cup almost 10 years ago, when a Frank Lampard brace helped Chelsea to a 3-1 victory which took them into the quarter-finals.


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We say: Huddersfield 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea need a response to that West Ham defeat and, while Huddersfield have made things difficult for plenty of teams at the John Smith's Stadium, the visitors should have the quality required to swiftly return to winning ways.


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