N'Golo Kante Brilliant as Chelsea Cruise Past Huddersfield Town

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2018

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: N'Golo Kante of Chelsea is congratulated by his team-mates Cesar Azpilicueta (L) and Jorginho (R) after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Chelsea FC at John Smith's Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Huddersfield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Chelsea's 2018-19 Premier League campaign got off to a winning start under new manager Maurizio Sarri thanks to a 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Goals from star-of-the-show N'Golo Kante, Pedro and summer signing Jorginho, who struck from the penalty spot, gave the Blues all three points at the John Smith's Stadium.


'Sarri-ball' Will Take Hold Quicker than Expected

Sarri said it would take "one or two months" for Chelsea's squad to reach its full potential playing his distinctive brand of football, per Matt Law of The Telegraph.

The Italian's claim looks like a conservative estimate based on the slick and assured way his players passed the ball through the lines on Saturday. Chelsea recycled possession with effortless efficiency thanks to players naturally suited to so-called "Sarri-ball."

Admittedly, there were some teething problems early on:

Things improved once Kante had found the net on 34 minutes. The rather scrappy finish capped the type of free-flowing move that was a trademark of Sarri's Napoli team:

What followed was increased confidence and more flair from the Blues' maestros. Both were obvious in the buildup to Jorginho's penalty:

Even a cursory look at the names of the players involved shows why Chelsea won't have to wait long for Sarri-ball to become the norm. Pedro is already well-schooled in artful possession from his days working with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, while Willian plays with the stylish impudence inherent in many of Brazil's best attackers.

Technique and intuition can't be in short supply centrally as long as former Evertonprodigy Ross Barkley and Sarri's star pupil at Napoli, Jorginho, are pulling the strings. The latter is renowned for treating the ball like a treasure and will surely become the fulcrum of this Chelsea team.

Sarri may not match the quick success of predecessor Antonio Conte, who won the title in his first season. However, it won't take the new man long to get the Blues playing the game the way he believes it should be played.


Sarri's Influence Can Unlock Kante's Scoring Potential

Sarri's influence will alter Chelsea's collective game for the better, but individual players will also benefit from the 59-year-old's progressive ideas. Perhaps no player will benefit more than midfield stalwart Kante, who can become more of a factor going forward.

The potential for goals from the best destroyer in England's top flight was demonstrated 11 minutes before the break when Kante found the net for a rare time:

ESPN FC's Liam Twomey perfectly summed up why this finish can be the first of many:

Runs forward are usually a rarity for the ex-Leicester City ace, but he made his fair share against the Terriers. Many of those forays into the final third took Kante beyond centre-forward Morata, regularly putting Kante into positions to threaten on goal.

His energy, pace and technique means Kante can be a useful option in attacking areas for a more expansive Chelsea side.


Lack of Goals Sure to Doom Huddersfield

Although the final scored would indicate otherwise, Huddersfield actually defended well for large portions of the game.

In particular, one summer buy stood out, according to Goal's Nizaar Kinsella:

Yet for all of Terence Kongolo's laudable efforts, he and the rest of the Terriers' defence weren't helped by an attack woefully short of scoring potential. Steve Mounie led the line, but the Frenchman, who found the net just seven times in 28 league appearances last season, barely troubled Chelsea's debutant goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Neither did attacking-midfielder Alex Pritchard, who played just off the lone striker but failed to conjure any magic. Aside from the absence of creativity, there was also a notable lack of pace in wide areas, making a mockery of the decision to sell Tom Ince to Stoke City.

Struggles finding the net already look like being the common theme of Huddersfield's season—a familiar foible damaging enough to ultimately doom the club in a relegation battle.


What's Next?

Chelsea and Sarri can expect a stronger test from Arsenal in their home opener at Stamford Bridge next Saturday. Meanwhile, things won't get easier for the Terriers, who travel to face champions Manchester City on Sunday, August 19.


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