Higuain at the double as Chelsea hammer Huddersfield
Gonzalo Higuain scored his first goals in English football as Chelsea demolished Huddersfield Town, 5-0, to ease the pressure on Maurizio Sarri. Eden Hazard also found the net twice and David Luiz contributed with a late deflected header.
Higuain looked much sharper than he did in the embarrassing 4-0 loss at Bournemouth and linked up nicely with Hazard at times, though there were also moments in which it was clear he is not yet completely on the same wavelength as his new teammates. Hazard also performed like Hazard again.
The scoreline does not tell the story of the first-half anxiety at Stamford Bridge, as Huddersfield counter-attacked into the vast spaces left by Chelsea. Serious issues remain with Sarri's system -- or at least the execution of it -- and better teams will punish them.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Sarri insisted he would keep faith with his Plan A and it worked here, though in truth, it was always expected to. There remains a problem of creativity in midfield, and Alonso at left-back creates vast gaps for opponents to exploit.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 -- Had hearts in mouths at Stamford Bridge when he decided to wrong-foot a Huddersfield attacker, but was otherwise safe and sensible with the ball at his feet. Not tested by the worst attacking team in the Premier League.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 -- This was a day for attacking ambition and he showed plenty of it, trying to find Higuain with crosses regularly and even surging into the box to win the penalty that gave Chelsea much-needed breathing room on the stroke of half time.
DF Andreas Christensen, 8 -- Chelsea's best defender in an uncertain first half, dealing with dangerous Huddersfield counterattacks calmly and distributing the ball well. It is to his credit that Antonio Rudiger was not missed.
DF David Luiz, 7 -- Played one or two eye-catching passes and still remains Chelsea's most consistently creative player, for better or worse. Threatened to score from several set-pieces before his final effort caught a friendly deflection off Elias Kachunga and went in.
DF Marcos Alonso, 6 -- Restored to the starting XI in place of Emerson, Alonso was a threat going forward, but Huddersfield found plenty of opportunities to attack the space left by his attacking forays, particularly with the speedy Adama Diakhaby. Better teams will punish his ambition.
MF N'Golo Kante, 8 -- Got the show rolling with a brilliantly disguised pass through to Higuain for Chelsea's first goal and set up the Argentine's screamer with a smart layoff. Does all the little things brilliantly and his positioning, both with and without the ball, covers a lot of holes for this team.
MF Jorginho, 7 -- Was noticeably more ambitious with his passes from the start, clipping one Cesc Fabregas-esque ball in for Higuain early on, and tried to distribute more quickly in general. The ease with which Philip Billing bullied him at times in the first half should worry Sarri, though.
MF Ross Barkley, 7 -- Much more aggressive in hunting his own shot, curling one low effort just wide early on. Chelsea need him to carry the goal threat from midfield, and though he didn't get on the scoresheet, there were encouraging signs here. His incisive pass also found Hazard for Chelsea's third.
FW Willian, 6 -- Still comes to the ball too much for Sarri's liking rather than attacking spaces in behind, but his speed and close control did help pin Huddersfield back. Unlucky to shoot just over with a nice left-footed curler just after half time, and his defensive work rate was an asset.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 8 -- Showed excellent movement for his first goal and seemed to take confidence from opening his Chelsea account early in the game. His second strike, a 25-yard curler from Kante's layoff, looked like an emphatic message that Sarri has finally found his "proper striker."
FW Eden Hazard, 9 -- Seemed determined to take this match by the scruff of the neck from the outset and drove at the Huddersfield defence whenever he got the chance. Linked up well with Higuain and took both of his goals clinically. Passed up a glorious chance at a hat trick in order to try and set someone else up.
FW Mateo Kovacic, 6 -- Provided fresh legs for Barkley in the 70th minute and almost scored; his fierce shot deflected just over.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, N/R -- Granted a 13-minute cameo with the game won against the Premier League's bottom club. It will take more than this to get that new contract signed.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N/R -- Came on to give Kante a rare rest, but arguably should have started instead of Barkley here.