Comment and Analysis @nicholaspwright
Maurizio Sarri is already beginning to transform Chelsea
Chelsea beat Huddersfield 3-0 at the John Smith's Stadium
Last Updated: 12/08/18 12:25pm
Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea reign began with a 3-0 win over Huddersfield, but what's new under Antonio Conte's successor?
N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Pedro were on target at the John Smith's Stadium as Chelsea eased to victory under their new head coach.
From the new system to new £71.6m goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, we assess how Sarri's Chelsea is taking shape.
New coach, new system
There may have only been two new faces in Chelsea's starting line-up at the John Smith's Stadium, but the system was very different. Sarri has wasted no time in ditching Antonio Conte's back three, instead introducing the same 4-3-3 formation he used at previous club Napoli.
Sarri will be delighted by how his players embraced the new set-up, and he will also take satisfaction from how they adapted to the new emphasis on possession. Chelsea only had a higher share of the ball (63 per cent) in seven of their 38 Premier League games last season, and only completed a higher percentage of their passes (88.3 per cent) in two. Sarri-ball is already taking shape.
Pass master Jorginho
Sarri deserves great credit for getting his ideas across so swiftly but his task has been made easier by the presence of Jorginho. The £57m Italy international was key for him at Napoli and it seems he will be similarly important at Chelsea. In his favoured position at the base of the midfield three, Jorginho excelled against Huddersfield.
He dispatched his penalty with impressive composure, becoming only the eighth player to score from the spot on his Premier League debut, but the most impressive element of his performance was undoubtedly his distribution. Jorginho did not create any scoring chances himself, but he was involved in almost everything and boasted the highest success rate on the pitch (93.9 per cent).
Jorginho was important out of possession, too. He made more clearances (five) than any other player on the pitch and could regularly be seen organising the team and giving instructions to the players around him.
Kante's new role
Jorginho's arrival at Chelsea has pushed Kante into a new position, but his inclusion in Sarri's starting line-up against Huddersfield, only a few days after he returned to training following France's World Cup win, showed he is just as important to his new manager as he was to his last.
Kante's new role is on the right-hand side of the midfield three, where he has licence to attack. He seemed to enjoy it. The 27-year-old made an awkward connection with Willian's cross for his goal, but it was a reward for being in the right place at the right time. And while it was only his fourth goal in 107 Premier League appearances, there are likely to be more.
Barkley is back
Ross Barkley endured a nightmarish second half of the season last year, making just four appearances under Conte and losing his place in the England squad, but he impressed in the Community Shield against Manchester City last weekend and kept his place in the team against Huddersfield.
Sarri has already said he regards the 24-year-old as a useful player, but the challenge for him now is to hold down his place in the team. Barkley was replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek midway through the second half at the John Smith's Stadium, and he must also fend off competition from Mateo Kovacic. It will not be easy,but his prospects look far brighter than they did.
Kepa was thrown straight into Chelsea's starting line-up three days after his club-record arrival from Athletic Bilbao. The 23-year-old Spaniard had a nervy moment early on, shanking a clearance with only his second touch of the ball, but for the most part he looked assured.
He was not too sternly tested, in truth, but Kepa dealt well with everything Huddersfield threw at him, saving all three of their shots on target and also showing alertness to run off his line and clear long passes. Shortly before half-time, he also showed confidence and bravery to claim a high ball under pressure from two Huddersfield forwards.
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