Last night, in the last home game of the season and the penultimate fixture of the 2017 / 2018 season, Chelsea’s hopes of Champions League football, next season, suffered a huge blow when they could only draw with a resolute Huddersfield Town.
But whilst there were long faces amongst the Chelsea supporters at the sound of the final whistle, there were joyous scenes involving Huddersfield Town and their supporters knew the draw had ensured they would be playing Premier League football next season.
For this game, Antonio Conte chose to make six changes to his starting eleven, shuffling the side that had beaten Liverpool 1-0, at Stamford Bridge, on Sunday. Amongst those given a chance to impress were Caballero, Christensen, Willian, Pedro, Zappacosta and Morata. Perhaps the biggest surprise relating to Conte’s team selection saw Hazard only on the bench.
From the first whistle, it was obvious that Huddersfield’s game-plan was to get numbers behind the ball and frustrate Chelsea.
Although Chelsea enjoyed much of the possession clear-cut chances were rare. Probably the best created fell to Rudiger but the defender got his feet in a mess, at the far post, and could only turn the ball wide.
Another opportunity saw Morata round the keeper but the Spaniard faced to acute an angle to turn the ball home and could only pull the ball back into the six-yard box with nobody there to meet it.
All square at half-time, Huddersfield were to take a shock lead early in the half. Willian was denied a foul by Lee Mason, who infuriated the home crowd several times during the game, the ball was played long and Caballero made a complete hash of trying to thwart the on-rushing Depoitre who took great delight in steering the ball home into an empty net to spark wild celebrations amongst the travelling support.
Chelsea responded well and were soon level with the most fortunate of goals. With the ball in the box, the Huddersfield defender, Jorgensen, saw his clearance hit Alonso flush in the face and the ball ended up in the net without the Spaniard knowing anything about it.
Pushing for the win, Chelsea almost got the winner when a header from Christensen was, somehow, pushed on to the post by the Huddersfield keeper, Lossl, to deny the Chelsea defender.
Chelsea huffed and puffed but Huddersfield hung on for the result that preserves their Premier League status whilst Chelsea, to qualify for the Champions League, must beat Newcastle (a) on Sunday and hope Brighton can get an improbable win away to Liverpool.