Chelsea bounced back from defeat at West Ham with a comfortable win away at Huddersfield on Tuesday night.
The opening twenty minutes of the match seemed to indicate that things would be a lot tougher than they turned out, but a Huddersfield defensive error changed that on twenty-three minutes.
The home side used a 4-5-1 system, with manager David Wagner setting up to try to cut out all space in the midfield. They played with the lines of defence and midfield close together when out of possession, and Jonathan Hogg, the deepest of Huddersfield’s central midfielders, picked up Hazard whenever he dropped deeper. This forced us to play sideways for most of the half, and it was looking like a long night was in store as we faced a well-organised defensive unit. The aforementioned mistake changed all that though. Keeper Lossl took a goal kick short, it was returned to him, as their full backs pushed up, and their centre backs provided options wide. As he cleared down field, he slipped, and the ball only got as far as Victor Moses on Chelsea’s right wing. He headed the ball forward to Hazard, who flicked it round the corner to Pedro, who found the run of Bakayoko into the space vacated by the Huddersfield full backs, who had no time to recover. He lofted it over the keeper, and the Huddersfield defender could only help it on its way over the goal line.
This should have changed the course of the match now, but strangely Wagner opted to keep his tactics as they were. So now with a 0-1 lead, and our hosts reluctant and unable to muster any attacks of their own, the evening had become a lot simpler. The home side were rarely able to get out of their own half, and we dominated possession. Although forced wide by the setup of our opponents, Chelsea used the width well, playing more diagonal balls from side to side to try and pull Huddersfield out of position. One such move just before the interval pretty much killed the match. Azpilicueta came forward from the right, and pinged a fantastic diagonal ball to Alonso, who was down the left wing halfway inside the opposition half. He controlled, and managed to whip an equally outstanding ball to the back post, where Willian headed back across the keeper to double the lead. Great play.
Huddersfield still didn’t change their tactics in the second half, and Chelsea were able to cut through them with greater fluency thanks to the flicks and touches in the final third of the opposition half by Pedro, Hazard, and Willian. They were our front three for the night in a 3-4-3 system.
Five minutes into the second half we were three up. Alonso again got wide to cross, Willian touched back to Pedro, who placed a brilliant effort into the top corner with the inside of his foot. Chances a plenty were forthcoming now, as the home side couldn’t deal with the pace of our play, despite having bodies behind the ball. Hazard had a shot saved at the near post after getting in down the right channel, while Pedro fired wide after a quick counter attack when Huddersfield had lost the ball in their own half. Tom Ince called Courtois into some rare work on the night, getting in down the left, but Courtois did just enough to partially block his effort as he came off his line, before Christensen cleared.
Chelsea continued to look menacing in attack, but couldn’t add a third. Unfortunately in the last minute with a rare attack, Huddersfield spoilt our clean sheet, with a cross from the left headed in as Depoitre beat Rudiger in the air. A shame, but the match had long since been put to bed in a dominant display.
Huddersfield Town (4-5-1) 1 (Depoitre 90)
Lossl; Smith, Jorgensen, Schindler, Loewe; (Hadergjonaj 67)
Kachunga, Hogg, (Whitehead 45) Williams, Mooy, Ince;
Mounie. (Depoitre 74)
Chelsea (3-4-3) 3 (Bakayoko 23, Willian 43, Pedro 50)
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, (Ampadu 80), Rudiger;
Moses, Kante, (Drinkwater 71), Bakayoko, Alonso;
Willian, Hazard, (Batshuayi 69) Pedro.