1st, 10th, 1st, 5th. These have been Chelsea’s finishing positions in the previous four seasons, with Jose Mourinho and then Antonio Conte delivering the Premier League title at Stamford Bridge before missing out on Champions League football the following campaign.
Now another Italian has been hired to win trophies with the west London club and also implement a new and attacking style of football that will delight owner Roman Abramovich and the supporters who have given up predicting what to expect from their team every year.
The new campaign has been overshadowed by speculation surrounding the future of Eden Hazard, Willian and Thibaut Courtois - who eventually moved to Real Madrid on deadline day.
While Hazard has two Premier League winners’ medals, there’s a feeling that the Belgian hasn’t yet fulfilled his immense potential and perhaps Maurizio Sarri seems to have persuaded him that a team can be built to service his fantastic ability on a regular basis.
Chelsea Favourites to Beat Newly Promoted Huddersfield
Chelsea were left chasing shadows in their Community Shield clash against Manchester City (as we predicted), although they won’t be the only team outclassed by the English champions this season and they go to Huddersfield as strong favourites to win this clash.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has featured prominently during pre-season and the left-winger looks set to line up in this clash along with Ross Barkley who is looking to kickstart his Chelsea career following a previous transfer from Everton.
Sarri looks short of attacking options, especially while Olivier Giroud and Hazard are absent, with Alvaro Morata, 5/4 for Anytime Goalscorer with Ladbrokes, cutting a forlorn figure in attack although the back four look solid enough and we’ve seen David Luiz come in from the cold.
Huddersfield punched massively above their weight to stay in the top flight this season, with the Terriers beating the drop by four points and they’ve retained the services of ace manager David Wagner who will have more tricks up his sleeve this term. They are 19/4 to win this match at the best bookmakers.
There’s a slight downside in that Wolves and Fulham are two of the promoted clubs, with this duo looking poised to settle into the top flight comfortably, although the Yorkshire side have a tremendous work ethic and might make life difficult for their illustrious opponents.
Right Time to Take Advantage of Chelsea
It appears that this is a good time to be facing Chelsea, with Sarri waiting for World Cup stars to return to the fold and also keen to get his squad working hard on a playing style which could eventually prove to be explosive considering the way in which Napoli starred in Serie A last term.
We should therefore expect a transitional first season for Sarri and there could be merit in backing the home win to cause a stir in this game or at least considering a wager on the Asian Handicap, with Huddersfield likely to set up defensively and hope to spring a surprise on the counter.
A hefty £17.5 million has been spent on Terence Kongolo from Monaco, with Adama Diakhaby also arriving from the French club, with Ramadan Sobhi capable of improving on Tom Ince’s appearances in a Town shirt last season after his arrival from Stoke.
Huddersfield opened last season with a 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace and don’t be surprised if we see another shock against a team who looked well off the pace at Wembley last weekend. Chelsea’s odds are longer than may be expected at 6/10 for the win here.