Sarriball is underway in the Premier League and Chelsea fans are absolutely loving it, having watched their Blues march to a 3-0 away win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The FA Cup winners and last season’s defending champions headed into their first game of the season with some uncertainty given the changes which took place in the summer. Playing under a new coach in Maurizio Sarri and reverting to a back four in a new system, there were always going to be some chinks to work out.
Summer acquisitions Jorginho and Kepa Arrizabalaga started the game for Chelsea, but Mateo Kovacic was not included in the matchday squad after arriving on loan from Real Madrid. Cesc Fabregas was also unavailable, having suffered a slight injury ahead of the match.
There was another development in the form of Cesar Azpilicueta leading the side out as captain, albeit not permanent, yet he’s likely to continue in the role under Sarri.
The Terriers, meanwhile, were probably buoyed by the fact that their survival last season was helped by the point they gained against the Blues in their penultimate game of the campaign.
They started the match brightly and also debuted a new stopper, with Ben Hamer starting their first match ahead of Jonas Lossl following an impressive pre-season.
Despite putting up a staunch defence in the first half, they found themselves down 2-0 heading into half time and on the losing end of a 3-0 scoreline.
Key Talking Point
There were questions over whether Huddersfield could keep things rolling after their achievement last season and they really didn’t play badly, especially in the first half.
Steve Mounie was unlucky not to score in said period when he got his head to a ball in the box to direct it towards the post and there were a few more opportunities in the match.
Wagner’s Terriers could find more joy playing against the top flight’s weaker sides if they continue in like manner. But the Blues were clearly the better side on the day despite not kicking into gear under Sarri just yet.
STAR MAN – Mounie seemed the most likely to hurt the visiting Londoners and came quite close to equalising after Kante scored in the first half.
CLOSE! 36′ Steve Mounie heads against woodwork for #htafc
— Mark Walker (@markdw1966) August 11, 2018
His header, which beat all of Chelsea’s defenders and their new keeper, unfortunately deflected off of the post and back into play.
WORST PLAYER – Christopher Schindler gave the Blues a huge advantage when he fouled Marcos Alonso in the box. The infraction resulted in Jorginho scoring a penalty to give Chelsea a 2-0 lead.
Key Talking Point
Sarri has quite a task on his hands getting this Chelsea squad up to speed and there were concerns heading into the match. But the manager seems to have done enough to get his team through their first fixture of the season,
Eyes were obviously on debutants Jorginho and Arrizabalaga and the pair gave excellent accounts of themselves, with the former scoring a cheeky penalty in the first half.
I agree with those who think we could be playing better. But kicking a season off with a win is hugely important. As Sarri says, #Sarriball will take time.
— Chelsea Rumours (@ChelseaRumours) August 11, 2018
N’Golo Kante scored the first goal of the game, playing in a notably advanced role while the likes of Pedro and Willian proved useful out wide.
STAR MAN – Kante was his usual pesky self in midfield but, playing in a new formation under the new boss, he was a real attacking threat.
The Frenchman opened the scoring for the Blues, as mentioned earlier, and found himself in several threatening positions throughout the match. It is expected that his influence will only grow, given his new, advanced role.
Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic won’t get us goals they said… well there’s one from 1/3 of them In the first half of the season! Get in there KANTE #CFC ?
— George Benson (@MrGeorgeBenson) August 11, 2018
34′: ?? N’Golo Kanté
45′: ?? Jorginho
The first Chelsea goals of the Maurizio Sarri era come from an unexpected pair of players. ? pic.twitter.com/fqqhrAXW9S
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) August 11, 2018
Most of Chelsea’s players played really well, with David Luiz especially impressive as he controlled the air and fed some good alls up front. Jorginho also impressed and Eden Hazard was typically brilliant when he came on in the second half.
Kante, however, was the standout player as the Blues opened their campaign with a 3-0 win.
WORST PLAYER – Overall, Chelsea played a good game and no one was exactly horrible, but Alvaro Morata did little to improve his prospects.
There was also:
Only took 3 minutes for Alvaro Morata to miss a sitter. Thankfully, he’s offside.
— Talk Chelsea (@talkchelsea) August 11, 2018
For me, Alvaro Morata is trying his best and has done okay in the first half, not a lot of service but I’m sure it will open up in the second half.
— WorldWideChels (@WorldWideChels) August 11, 2018
The former Madrid man did well to hold the ball up and knock aerial passes down, yet his first touch let him down at times and he gave the ball away on a few occasions with wayward passing.
Chelsea are top of the table for now but they face a much sterner test against Arsenal, who beat them on penalties in pre-season.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, have another tough matchup ahead and will play Manchester City away next weekend. They could find a bit of ease against Cardiff City after that, but Everton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Spurs are all up next.