Chelsea v Huddersfield Town: Return to the Bridge rekindles positive memories

Huddersfield Town's Aaron Mooy (left) and Everton's Cenk Tosun battle for the ball
Huddersfield Town's Aaron Mooy (left) and Everton's Cenk Tosun battle for the ball
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THERE has been precious little to smile about for Huddersfield Town lately.

Marooned at the foot of the Premier League after taking a solitary point from 11 games since the end of November, the Terriers are heading nowhere else but down.

Just how bad that relegation proves to be will not be known until the curtain comes down with the final-day trip to Southampton.

But, on current form and when factoring in a goals tally that stands at a paltry 13 from 24 games, it seems likely that the list of Lowest Points Totals in the Premier League will need updating come May.

Grim times, indeed, and yet today 1,500 fans will be heading to the capital in support of head Jan Siewert’s side after the last of Town’s ticket allocation was snapped up earlier this week.

It is an impressive show of support for not only the new head coach, but also a squad looking punch drunk after taking one too many blows in recent weeks.

Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre is mobbed by team-mates after his goal earned them Premier League survival last time they visited Chelsea (Picture: PA)

Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre is mobbed by team-mates after his goal earned them Premier League survival last time they visited Chelsea (Picture: PA)

Part of the attraction, of course, will be a desire to recall happier times for Huddersfield in the top flight.

Stamford Bridge – regardless of what happens today – is guaranteed a special place in the affections of supporters after staging the Yorkshire club’s survival-clinching party last May.

Florent Hadergjonaj remembers the night well, as Laurent Depoitre’s strike early in the second half ultimately earned the Terriers the point they needed to clinch safety with a game to spare. “Chelsea last season was a night I will never forget in my life,” said the Swiss international, his face breaking into a broad smile the moment the C-word is first mentioned by The Yorkshire Post.

“Crazy game. I was on the bench and every corner or free-kick I could not watch. I was too nervous about what may happen.

If you work hard, at the end all that hard work pays off. That Chelsea game was our reward. It showed everyone that anything is possible.

Florent Hadergjonaj

“We got in front early in the second half and then they made it 1-1. The last 30 minutes felt a long time.

“But we kept believing and that was our reward.

“If you work hard at the end all that hard work pays off. That Chelsea game was our reward. It showed everyone that anything is possible.

“People looked at Huddersfield Town and thought, ‘They are going to go down’.

“But, for us, we proved them wrong and that gave us an incredible night in London.”

Much has changed since that glorious May evening in the capital that ended with the Town players partying hard in the West End before catching the first train north the following morning.

David Wagner, the man who masterminded that survival, has gone, replaced by Jan Siewert as head coach.

Also exiting stage left in recent weeks has been the sense of belief that made Town’s rise from the lower echelons of the Championship possible, perhaps an understandable consequence of the run that has left Siewert’s men in danger of joining the list of Premier League lowest points tallies that has Derby County (11, 2007-08) at its head, slightly in front of Sunderland (15, 2005-06) and Aston Villa (17, 2015-16).

One reassuring sight for the 1,500 Town fans at Chelsea today, however, will be Aaron Mooy back in midfield.

The Australian returned from a seven-and-a-half week absence in Tuesday’s defeat at home to Everton with an appearance from the bench. Even in the 35 minutes he spent on the field Mooy did enough to be named man of the match to underline just how much Huddersfield have missed someone who has to be regarded as one of the most influential players in the club’s history.

Certainly it is difficult to imagine the Terriers, first, reaching the Premier League and then staying there without Mooy.

Also back available is Phillip Billing, whose last outing before injury was the goalless draw at Cardiff City that last month proved to be the last act of Wagner’s time in charge.

Siewert could turn to both midfielders in an attempt to kick-start his own reign as Town look to add to the woes of a Blues side beaten 4-0 in midweek at Bournemouth.

Blues manager Maurizio Sarri locked his players in the away dressing room at Dean Court for 40 minutes before returning to the capital separately from the team.

Chelsea will be desperate to make amends today against the top-flight’s bottom club, but Siewert admits Huddersfield are desperate to cause another upset of their own in SW6.

“I am so hungry to give our fans a win,” said the German, who could hand a debut to new £1.5m striker Karlan Grant. “I will do everything for it.

“And I know the players also want that, and that is why we were so disappointed after the Everton game.

“As a professional player you are always under pressure because you put yourself under pressure.

“There is also pressure for me, but the pressure is just wanting three points – like a hunger. We have to implement that everyone is hungry.

“In Karlan I see something that is very special and I am convinced he can help us.

“I think he showed in League One that he is able to score consistently and this is important for me.”

As for Hadergjonaj, he is relishing the opportunity to tackle one of the European football 
elite once again at Stamford Bridge.

“Every player who plays against Chelsea in his career will have good moments in his head because they are a big club,” said the full-back.

“But that night was extra special for us.

“We did it and that was such a big achievement for us.

“A night we will never forget in our lives.”