Published On: Fri, Aug 10th, 2018

Chelsea team news: Predicted Chelsea line up vs Huddersfield – Kepa to start, no Kovacic | Football | Sport


Chelsea will hand a debut to new goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for their Premier League opener against Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

The 23-year-old star completed a £71million switch to Stamford Bridge from Athletic Bilbao ahead of deadline day and Maurizio Sarri will have no trouble throwing him straight into the action.

Kepa will slot into the place of Thibaut Courtois, who finally landed a move to Real Madrid, though deadline day signing Mateo Kovacic will not face the Terriers.

The Croatian star joined on a season-long loan from the Bernabeu but has only recently returned to training following his involvement at the World Cup.

Kovacic will be joined by N’Golo Kante on the absent list, meaning Cesc Fabregas and Ross Barkley look set to start the season alongside £52m man Jorginho.

Both players will be desperate to impress and will need to produce big performances if they are to stay in the team ahead of the World Cup duo.

Elsewhere, David Luiz will start in Sarri’s newly-crafted 4-3-3 formation, with Antonio Rudiger set to start as his defensive partner ahead of Andreas Christensen.

Marcos Alonso has locked down the left-back slot for now, while versatile defensive star Cesar Azpilicueta will drift out to right-back for the new season.

Alvaro Morata will lead the line for the Blues but he will be under immense scrutiny after a run of poor form in 2018 – including a failure to score in pre-season.

The Spanish striker was heavily-criticised following Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Community Shield, and must impress to keep Olivier Giroud out of the team.

Eden Hazard is yet to reach full fitness meaning Willian and Pedro are primed to flank Morata going forward.

Teenage sensation Callum Hudson-Odoi made a big impression on the first team picture during pre-season but is expected to be benched for the start of the 2018/19 campaign.

Sarri should be able to welcome back the likes of Hazard after the opening weekend, but could be cautious in how he deploys his returning stars.

The Blues will be keen to hit the ground running after a disappointing 2017/18 campaign under Antonio Conte that resulted in a fifth place finish.

Predicted Chelsea line-up to face Huddersfield:

(4-3-3) Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Cesc Fabregas; Willian, Alvaro Morata, Pedro.



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Chelsea team news: Predicted Chelsea line up vs Huddersfield – Kepa to start, no Kovacic | Football | Sport