Chelsea’s 2018-19 Premier League campaign begins on Saturday with an away match against Huddersfield Town, as the Maurizio Sarri era gets under way in earnest.
The Italian, who replaced his compatriot Antonio Conte at the helm of the Stamford Bridge club during the summer, has been imprinting his philosophy on the team in pre-season and there will be an air of expectation at Kirklees Stadium this weekend.
The Blues were already in action last week, falling to a 2-0 defeat against Manchester City in the Community Shield, so they will be eager to bounce back from that by securing three points in the first league game of the season.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, will be desperate to get off to a strong start in 2018 and, having managed to steer clear of relegation last term, there will be plenty of positivity around the club.
|Game||Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea|
|Date||Saturday, August 11|
|Time||3pm BST / 10am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US) the game will be shown live on television, with NBCSN, UNIVERSO and Telemundo Deportes all broadcasting. It can also be streamed live online using the NBC Sports app.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|NBCSN / UNIVERSO / Telemundo Deportes||NBC Sports app|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will not be broadcast live due to the ‘3pm blackout’ which is in force, but it can be followed live on Goal here.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Lossl, Hamer, Schofield|
|Defenders||Smith, Kongolo, Lowe, Jorgensen, Schindler, Stankovic, Hadergjonaj, Durm|
|Midfielders||Hogg, Bacuna, Billing, Mooy, Sobhi, Van La Parra, Williams, Pritchard, Sabiri|
|Forwards||Kachunga, Diakhaby, Mbenza, Depoitre, Quaner, Mounie|
Huddersfield have added a spate of new faces to their squad for their second season in the Premier League, with the likes of Adama Diakhaby arriving from Monaco and Germany international Erik Durm signing from Borussia Dortmund. Netherlands Under-21 international Juninho Bacuna also signed, while Belgium youth international Isaac Mbenza joined on loan.
Danny Williams will be unable to take part in the match due to an ankle injury, while Elias Kachunga is also a concern.
Potential Huddersfield XI: Lossl; Kongolo, Schindler, Stankovic; Lowe, Billing, Hogg, Mooy, Smith; Van La Parra, Mounie.
|Goalkeepers||Caballero, Kepa, Bulka, Green|
|Defenders||Rudiger, Alonso, Moses, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Zappacosta, Christensen, Emerson, Ampadu|
|Midfielders||Fabregas, Jorginho, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Bakayoko, Musonda, Kovacic, Hazard, Pedro, Hudson-Odoi, Willian|
|Forwards||Abraham, Giroud, Morata|
New signing Kepa Arrizabalaga could make his Chelsea debut after arriving from Athletic Bilbao at the beginning of August as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois, while Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic could make their Premier League bows.
A number of players, including Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante have only trained briefly since their return from the World Cup, but all three are in contention to start. Cesc Fabregas is a minor concern.
Potential Chelsea XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson; Fabregas, Jorginho, Kante, Hazard, Pedro; Morata.
Betting & Match Odds
Despite being away, Chelsea are strong favourites to win, with dabblebet offering odds of 8/13 on the Blues. Huddersfield are rated 5/1 to triumph and a draw is available at 14/5.
Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Chelsea may still have an Italian coach at the helm for 2018-19, but the Blues are set to deploy a very different approach under new steward Sarri as they embark on a new campaign.
The former Napoli boss popularised a style of play in Serie A – dubbed ‘Sarriball’ or ‘Sarrismo’ – which is essentially a tactical method that encourages players to deploy speed and possession in tandem.
It has produced mixed results thus far, with pre-season wins over Perth Glory and Inter followed by defeats to Arsenal and Man City, but such a transition will naturally take time.
However, time is something that a modern-day manager is rarely afforded and the Blues squad will have to adapt quickly to the demands of their famously straight-shooting, meticulous leader.
Having missed out on Champions League football by finishing fifth last term, Sarri’s brief will involve restoring the club’s place at Europe’s top table and he will be expected to deliver with immediate effect.
And, while a win over Huddersfield on Saturday is not likely to define their season, it could help to lay down a marker as they hope to mount a challenge for league glory.