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Chelsea-Huddersfield Town Preview
Chelsea have a new manager, but still the same old high expectations heading into another Premier League season.
The Blues will get under way with a visit to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Chelsea now enter their second season after winning a second top-flight title in three years. They'll try to fight their way back into the top four after finishing fifth last season, and settling for an Europa League position.
"We have to look forward because we have a lot of games and we want to win titles," midfielder Willian told Chelsea's official website.
While stars Eden Hazard (12 goals in 2017-18), Willian (six goals) and midfielder N'Golo Kante are back to help return the Blues to greatness, there is a new look on the touchline.
Former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri replaces Antonio Conte, who was sacked by the club in mid-July. Sarri, who guided Napoli to a second-place finish in Serie A in 2017-18, brings a more aggressive style of play than incorporated by the pragmatic Conte. Which should be to the delight of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
That obviously also should benefit the likes of Willian, Hazard and Alvaro Morata (11 league goals in 2017-18), who is looking to rebound from an inconsistent campaign for Chelsea.
"He's a great manager, an intelligent manager who works a lot," Willian said of Sarri. "He is trying to improve us. Of course, it is just the start, we are right at the beginning, but we can improve a lot and do good things this season."
Jorginho also comes over from Napoli, leaving the Blues with arguably the top midfield in the league (alongside Kante and Cesc Fabregas). Hazard and Kante, though, might not be ready for this match following their lengthy World Cup duties.
However, Thibault Courtois will no longer man the Chelsea net. The Golden Glove winner at this year's World Cup signed a six-year deal with Real Madrid.
To make up for the loss, the Blues added Athletic Bilbao keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a reported price of £71 million.
Chelsea won 3-1 at Huddersfield last season when Willian recorded a goal with two assists. The teams then played to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in May.
In their first Premier League season, Huddersfield opened with two straight victories but won just seven the rest of the way. Still, it was enough for David Wagner's side to survive in the top-flight with a 16th-place finish - four points clear of relegation.
The accomplishment earned Wagner a three-year contract extension.
"We still have a lot of work to do as we adapt to life in the Premier League," Wagner told Huddersfield's official website back in May. "But this club and its people have ambition, desire and attitude to take this challenge on."
If the Town are to stay up for another season, they must find a way to score more goals. Their 28 from last season matched relegated Swansea City for the fewest in the league.
Steve Mounie led the team with seven league goals, but will need more help as Huddersfield's strength remains in the middle with Aaron Mooy, on the back end in defender Terence Kongolo and in goal with Jonas Lossl (103 saves last season).
Updated August 9, 2018