Chelsea may not be able to cut loose against Terriers
Draw at City was latest show of Huddersfield resilience
Sky Sports Premier League, 7.45pm Wednesday
Six weeks ago Antonio Conte’s fallen champions were eight points off the pace and concentrating on the FA Cup.
But four straight wins culminating in Sunday’s 1-0 success over a Liverpool side who have collected just two points out of a possible nine, have seen the Blues roar back into Champions League contention.
They go into this game just two points off Spurs and three behind Liverpool and even though those two have eminently winnable home games to come, Chelsea can pounce if they slip up.
Firstly, they need to take care of Huddersfield, who are also in need of points. A solitary point may well be enough but whatever the result of Swansea v Southampton, David Wagner’s men will believe they are going to need something from their last two games - and they finish at home to Arsenal on Sunday.
They will be buoyed by Sunday’s outstanding 0-0 draw at Manchester City, which was a sickener of a result for all of their relegation rivals.
Stopping City from scoring – Wolves in the League Cup had been the only previous opponents to keep a clean sheet at the Etihad this season – was a supreme effort from Wagner who gambled on a back five, three grafters in midfield, a playmaker in Alex Pritchard and lone target man Steve Mounie.
It worked a treat, though City looked as though they were just going through the motions. Chelsea surely won’t be anywhere near as obliging.
Huddersfield went to Manchester looking to avoid defeat and will have the same mindset at the Bridge. Given their workrate and the fact that they won’t be giving Conte’s men much space to operate, expect a low-scorer.
Chelsea are the lowest home scorers of the big six with 29, which is two more than Huddersfield have managed home and away.
Town have mustered just two goals in their last eight matches, a sequence of games which has yielded one win.
Long odds-on prices for Chelsea are easier to decline after City flopped against the same opponents at even shorter odds.
Huddersfield’s lack of firepower, however, also makes the outsiders hard to trust even at big prices. The draw cannot be overlooked though Chelsea, who still have something tangible to play for, should get the job done.
Contrary to what happened in Manchester, the layers expect goals and under 2.5 looks decidedly appetising.
Twenty-two of Huddersfield’s 36 league matches have produced two goals or fewer and they are set up to be resilient with tough-man Florent Hadergjonaj joining Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg in a midfield three.
Chelsea’s last three matches have produced a 2-0 win against Southampton in the FA Cup and back-to-back 1-0 victories against Swansea and Liverpool.
They have looked reliant on the creativity of Eden Hazard in each of those games but there are whispers he could be rested for their last league game and the FA Cup final.
Under 2.5 goals
1pt 8-5 Betfair
Danny Drinkwater and David Luiz are injured. Alvaro Morata is a doubt. Eden Hazard is a candidate to be rested.
Elias Kachunga and Danny Williams are out. Tom Ince and Michael Hefele hope to be fit.
Huddersfield’s last eight matches – including trips to Spurs and Man City – have produced two or fewer goals.
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