Chelsea, Spurs look to make strong starts to the season

Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri might opt for experimentation against Huddersfield while Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to get the season off to a good start against Newcastle United.

Tottenham is without midfield lynchpin Victor Wanyama who is out with a knee injury and Erik Lamela is unavailable due to a thigh issue.   -  Getty Images

After Manchester United beat Leicester City 2-1 on Friday evening in the opening match of the 2018-19 Premier League, Saturday will see a possible title contender Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea take on Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town respectively. The away fixtures look tricky as the squads still have players recovering from World Cup hangover and managers likely unable to field their first-choice XIs.

Pochettino’s squad inefficiencies might work in Newcastle’s favour

Not making any acquisitions in the summer transfer window and having nine players representing teams that reached World Cup semifinals have Mauricio Pochettino in a fix. Adding to these headaches the Argentine coach has lost his midfield lynchpin Victor Wanyama, to a knee injury and Erik Lamela is unavailable due to a thigh issue.

But trying to play a high-octane game with core members of the squad still working to gain full fitness might prove an early roadblock for the Spurs.

“Our targets are always in the same level of Real Madrid or Manchester United or Manchester City, but for different circumstances we cannot achieve that,” Pochettino said before the match to explain the club’s transfer inactivity.

But keeping out-of-favour Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose on the payroll might not bode well with Spurs’ ambitions to be a title challenger.

Read: Mourinho prepared for 'difficult' season after transfer woes

Newcastle, on the other hand, has not been the shrewdest in the transfer window except for bringing in Salomon Rondon and Japanese striker Yoshinoro Muto.

Manager Rafa Benitez will be relieved that captain Jamaal Lascelles has opted to stay at St. James Park and will look to maintain the standards that saw the Magpies finish tenth in the table last season. But having lost 2-0 to Spurs in the last season opener and the previous three home encounters will be something Benitez will look to better on Saturday.

 

Sarri expecting no miracles out of Chelsea

Less than a month into the Chelsea job and many of his returning for pre-season late, Maurizio Sarri will look for a good start to the season against David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town.

The Italian will look to develop a good team spirit after a fractious end to the Antonio Conte tenure, something which Sarri has been open about.

“I hope that the second part of the season, for us, will be very good with a lot of points. I expect in the first part of the season some problems,” he said ahead of the season opener.

New recruit Jorginho might make his Premier League debut along with record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal while Sarri’s use of Real Madrid loanee Mateo Kovacic will be interesting to see.

Also Read: There'll be problems – Sarri calls for Chelsea patience

For Huddersfield, survival will be the main aim despite spending little more than £40m on transfers this summer as David Wagner stated ahead of the season opener at home.

“We will, as always, give ourselves no limit and try the best that we can achieve. But, to me, success will be a third successive season in the Premier League. We must try to be ambitious but also realistic. We have a chance. It doesn’t mean we will take the chance, but it means we have a chance,” the Terriers boss said ahead of the tie.

 

Saturday’s Premier League schedule:

Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur – 5 pm IST

Bournemouth vs Cardiff City - 7.30 pm

Newcastle United vs Chelsea - 7.30 pm

Fulham vs Crystal Palace - 7.30 pm

Watford vs Brighton - 7.30 pm

Wolves vs Everton - 10 pm

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