New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri warned it could take his new side two months to reach their potential, despite starting the season with a comfortable win at Huddersfield Town.
A volley from N’Golo Kante, a penalty from debutant Jorginho and a late third from Pedro gave Sarri’s team the ideal start to their league campaign.
Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud were among the substitutes after their World Cup involvement.
“The situation until now has been very difficult,” said Sarri, whose side lost 2-0 to Manchester City in the Community Shield on Sunday.
“On Monday four players from the World Cup arrived [in training]. And then on Tuesday another two, so it’s not been easy for me at the moment.”
Asked how long it would be before they were playing at their best, the former Napoli manager answered: “It depends on me and the players. I don’t know. Hopefully two months and not three.
“I have to know the characteristics of the players. I have to adapt myself to the characteristics of the championship and the players. Now I study my players.”
Chelsea opted for a 4-3-3 formation, in contrast to the three centre-halves and wing-backs system used by former boss Antonio Conte.
Sarri, who became the club’s 10th full-time manager in 10 years after Conte was sacked in the summer, saw his side take the lead with their first shot on target.
It came in the 34th minute when Kante’s mis-hit strike from Willian’s cross bounced past Huddersfield goalkeeper Ben Hamer.
Jorginho followed Sarri from Napoli to Chelsea in the summer and the midfielder doubled the Blues’ lead when he converted a penalty after Christopher Schindler fouled Marcos Alonso.
Pedro sealed a comfortable win with a cool, chipped finish after being played in by substitute Hazard.
Before the second goal, the Terriers had hit a post through Steve Mounie’s header, but it was to be Sarri’s and Chelsea’s day.
A good day for the new boss
Chelsea’s fifth-placed finish in 2017-18 and the resulting failure to secure Champions League qualification saw Conte get sacked in July, despite winning the Premier League in 2016-17 and lifting the FA Cup last season.
Sarri, 59, was chosen to replace him after guiding Napoli to second place in Serie A last season, although he had warned Chelsea’s fans to “expect some problems” in their opening games and that it would take three months to find their best form.
They were not at their best against Huddersfield, but were still far too good for David Wagner’s side.
After a slow start, Kante, who helped France win the World Cup less than a month ago, gave Chelsea the lead, and it became 2-0 when Jorginho calmly converted the penalty.
That goal, just before half time, changed the game and Huddersfield struggled to create chances and gain possession in the second half.
An acrobatic effort from Alonso hit the crossbar and, as the hosts pushed for a way back into the game, they were caught on the break when Hazard set up Pedro, who sealed the victory.
Ten managerial changes in 10 years: Can you name all the full-time Chelsea bosses since 2008?
Score: 0 / 11
How did the new players fare?
Chelsea paid £71m to sign goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga when Thibaut Courtois joined Real Madrid. It was a clean sheet on his debut for Kepa, although he was well beaten by Mounie’s header after a corner had been flicked on, but the ball bounced back off the post.
Kepa only had to make one save, a very routine stop as he caught Alex Pritchard’s 25-yard effort, which was straight at him.
Italian international Jorginho, who worked with Sarri for three years at Napoli, operated as one of three narrow central midfielders and immediately looked at home, with an impressive performance and a 93.9% pass accuracy completion record.
For Huddersfield, Ben Hamer, who signed on a free transfer from Leicester during the summer, was sometimes let down by his distribution, but there was little he could have done for any of the three goals.
Netherlands international Terence Kongolo impressed for Huddersfield, including one perfectly-timed sliding challenge to stop Willian, but the hosts were powerless to stop Chelsea.
Man of the match – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Huddersfield’s home problems continue – the stats
- Including caretakers, Maurizio Sarri is the ninth consecutive Chelsea manager to avoid defeat in his first Premier League game in charge, with Avram Grant the last to lose his debut fixture (0-2 v Manchester United in September 2007).
- Chelsea’s 3-0 win was the largest margin of victory in their first Premier League game under a new manager since 2008, when Luiz Felipe Scolari oversaw a 4-0 win against Portsmouth.
- Chelsea have not suffered an opening day defeat away from home in the Premier League since 1998-99 (2-1 v Coventry), winning six and drawing one of their seven such games since.
- Huddersfield have lost five of their last seven opening games of a league campaign (won two), failing to score in each of those five defeats.
- Huddersfield have picked up just nine points from their last possible 36 in Premier League home games (won two, drawn three, lost seven), with the first game in this run being a 1-3 defeat against Chelsea last season.
- N’Golo Kante’s opener for Chelsea was his first Premier League goal since September, and just his fourth in 107 appearances in the competition overall.
- Jorginho has scored 10 of the 11 penalties he has taken in the top five European leagues (all competitions) for three different clubs (Verona, Napoli and Chelsea).
- Willian has been directly involved in four of Chelsea’s six Premier League goals at the John Smith’s Stadium, scoring one and assisting another three.
‘Very difficult against physical opponents’ – what they said
Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner speaking to BBC Sport: “Chelsea were very clinical. They had four or five chances and scored three. We started very well in the first half. We pressed them high and the players did very well.
“We had a very good opportunity at 1-0 where Steve Mounie hits the post and instead of being a goal up we were a goal down. And then just before half-time we made a tactical mistake to concede a penalty.
“We tried to create opportunities in the second-half and we hit the bar and then we conceded another goal on the counter where Eden Hazard shows his top quality.
“I’ve seen enough to be confident for the Premier League season, because we will not always meet the top, top teams. If you want a result from these games, the small margins have to go in your favour.”
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri speaking to BBC Sport: “The game was more difficult than the result. If you see the result, you think it was a very easy match, but in the first half it was very difficult against physical opponents.
“We are not a physical team so for 20 minutes we were in trouble but we did very well. In this moment we are not at the top of our potential but we had the capacity to suffer for 20 minutes in the first half.”
Chelsea face what looks to be a tougher task in their next match as they entertain Arsenal in the Premier League on 18 August (17:30 BST). Huddersfield’s challenging start to their Premier League season continues as they play away at champions Manchester City on 19 August (13:30 BST).