Big Match Verdict – Huddersfield Town fans display gallows humour as Chelsea run riot

Central character: Huddersfield Town's Elias Kachunga battles with Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.
Central character: Huddersfield Town's Elias Kachunga battles with Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.
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THERE are a few aspects of Premier League life that Huddersfield Town are unlikely to miss when confirmation finally comes of a relegation that their own supporters are already singing about.

One will be top-flight referees, Paul Tierney the latest to incur the wrath of the Terriers after a couple of debatable penalty decisions involving Elias Kachunga that both went against the Yorkshire club.

The atmosphere inside most grounds is also something that has not lived up to the hype that surrounds the Premier League.

So much so on Saturday that 1,500 Yorkshire voices chanted ‘Is this a library?’ as the clock ticked down towards full-time and the home fans headed for the exits with their side already four goals to the good.

What Town will also surely not miss come August is the ‘Groundhog Day’ style existence that has become their head-to-head meetings with the top six.

Following this Eden Hazard-inspired romp for Maurizio Sarri’s side in the capital, Huddersfield have lost all eight meetings with the cream of English football this term and conceded 24 goals in the process.

THAT'S JUST FOR STARTERS: Chelsea's Gonzalo Higuain (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

THAT'S JUST FOR STARTERS: Chelsea's Gonzalo Higuain (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal against Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

Town have mustered just two goals of their own in reply. Even then, the strikes by Jon Gorenc Stankovic and Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen against Manchester City and United, respectively, proved to be no more than consolations in comprehensive beatings.

It is a bleak record and one that few will back on Town improving before their inevitable fall through the relegation trapdoor to the Championship, not least because the remaining quartet of games against the elite includes trips to title hopefuls Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

No wonder the fans who made the trip to west London could not resist displaying gallows humour at their team’s plight by chanting, ‘The Championship, we’re on our way…’ during a second half when the gulf in class between the two teams had stretched into a yawning chasm.

Plenty, therefore, for head coach Jan Siewert to ponder ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Arsenal.

No wonder the fans who made the trip to west London could not resist displaying gallows humour at their team’s plight by chanting, ‘The Championship, we’re on our way…’ during a second half when the gulf in class between the two teams had stretched into a yawning chasm.

Richard Sutcliffe

To his credit, the German did send Town out at Stamford Bridge with the intention of doing a lot more than trying to contain a Chelsea side still wounded by a midweek four-goal mauling at Bournemouth.

That much was clear in the early stages, speedy widemen Isaac Mbenza and Adama Diakhaby starting runs forward the moment the Terriers gained possession in the expectation that a team-mate would find them.

Such a bold approach was in stark contrast to the sideways passing that has characterised much of Huddersfield’s play this season.

Chelsea’s backline were initially surprised by the ploy, as underlined by Mbenza dragging his marker away to create sufficient space for Chris Lowe to charge down the left flank.

His pinpoint cross found Aaron Mooy unmarked but the Australian headed narrowly over from eight yards out.

It was not the last time Huddersfield would ask serious questions of the hosts in the first half with Andreas Christensen having to bravely throw himself in front of a searing drive from Philip Billing on the half-hour following good work by Diakhaby out wide on the right flank.

For all this welcome enterprise on the part of the visitors, however, half-time arrived with the game effectively over as a contest thanks to Gonzalo Higuain’s first goal in English football and a penalty from Hazard.

Higuain struck in the 16th minute, the Juventus loanee firing high into the roof of the net after Town had been opened up by a cleverly disguised reverse pass from N’Golo Kante.

Hazard doubled Chelsea’s advantage on the stroke of half-time after Tierney had pointed to the spot for a foul on Cesar Azpilicueta by Kachunga even though the first contact had come outside the area.

Kachunga was left fuming again 11 minutes into the second half when Christiansen stood on the Town forward’s foot. The officials, possibly influenced by his theatrical fall to the floor, waved play on.

It was the last troublesome moment of the afternoon for Chelsea, who netted twice in three minutes around the midway point of the second half.

First, Hazard finished beyond Christopher Schindler from a tight angle after skipping past goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.

Higuain netted his second goal soon after, a deft lay-off from Kante allowing the Argentinian to curl a quite exquisite shot beyond Lossl from 25 yards.

By now, Town had surrendered the centre of midfield and David Luiz capped a miserable day in the capital by heading in a fifth late on, a deflection from Kachunga crucial in taking the ball beyond Lossl’s grasp.

For Chelsea, this was the perfect start to a month that will go a long way towards deciding whether Sarri’s sometimes difficult first season in the Premier League is also going to be his last.

The Blues face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final, Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round and Malmo in the Europa League. A trip to the Etihad Stadium also awaits in the league next Sunday.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, host Arsenal at the John Smith’s Stadium next. On this showing, the top six could be about to inflict even more punishment on the beleaguered Terriers.