Chelsea v Huddersfield Town Saturday 02 February, 15:00
Sarri still looking for the magic formula
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri may well have had his "you're gonna need a bigger boat" moment on Wednesday at Bournemouth. For those of you who haven't seen the shark-tastic Jaws, that means the second-half collapse by his players in that 4-0 reverse will have shown the Italian coach that the task ahead is bigger than he suspected. Chelsea defended in abject fashion, and they once again failed to provide adequate service for centre-forward Gonzalo Higuain.
Sarri locked himself away with his players afterwards, trying to get to the bottom of the inconsistency that has seen them secure outstanding home wins against Manchester City in the league and Tottenham in the League Cup, only to meekly surrender at Arsenal and Bournemouth. While there was no papal puff of smoke released, one assumes the former Napoli and Empoli boss got his point across.
If Chelsea are to hold off the challenge of Arsenal and a rejuvenated Manchester United in the race for the top four, they must find a way to consistently open up defences. They have scored just three goals in their last five Premier League matches, and have drawn a blank in two of their last three top-flight outings at Stamford Bridge. I get the sense that Blues fans are starting to panic a touch, but it took Sarri time to get things moving at Napoli, and when they finally clicked they played some breathtaking football.
Higuain is a doubt with a back problem, while talented teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi could return to the attack after he was left out of the Bournemouth debacle, and that's more likely if we get another edition of the "Eden Hazard Experiment" as the Belgian superstar continues to be deployed out of position through the centre. To be fair to Sarri, it worked really well for Hazard's fellow Belgian Dries Mertens.
Siewert in a high-stakes game with a bad hand
They are used to battling the odds in Huddersfield, but with miracle man David Wagner now gone after one of the most amicable football break-ups of all time, his fellow Borussia Dortmund II alumnus Jan Siewert has it all to do. A 1-0 home defeat to Everton made for an underwhelming start for a coach who developed a great reputation at youth level, but now has to prove that a poor spell at Rot Weiss Essen at senior level was just a blip.
Siewert has taken over a Huddersfield team that just doesn't have the firepower to compete at this level. Despite making chances against an Everton team that was reduced to ten men for the last quarter of the game, the Terriers failed to convert them, and that's been an issue all season. HTAFC have scored a paltry 13 goals in 24 league games, and haven't scored in any of their last four outings in league and cup.
The return of Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy has been a welcome boost, while midfielder Philip Billing could be available after injury. New signing Karlan Grant, who was brought in from Charlton, could feature in attack.
Terriers to be tamed again
Even with Chelsea's recent issues, they should be too strong for the division's worst team. Huddersfield have scored once in their last five away games, while Chelsea have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 11 competitive matches at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea to win to nil is disappointingly short at 1.69, but if you want to squeeze a bit more out of it you could back a Chelsea/No BTTS double at 1.73, which is effectively the same thing for a slightly better price.
If Chelsea can't click, unders bet is in play
Given Huddersfield's repeated failures in front of goal, it's worth considering Under 2.5 Goals at 2.40.
Five of Chelsea's last nine PL games have featured fewer than three goals, as have five of their last six top-flight games at Stamford Bridge.
Five of Huddersfield's last nine league games have finished with fewer than three goals too.