Before the season started, I highlighted that Huddersfield would be under pressure to stay up this season, not only due to the difficult fixtures that they faced at the start of the season, but due to the level of competition that was around them because of the wealth of the Premier League being spread across all the teams in the division via the various television deals.
Well, four games in, it seems that I was unfortunately right.
Town currently sit in 17th in the Premier League with two points from four games, after losing to Chelsea and Manchester City and then drawing against Cardiff and Everton.
That being said though, there were positives to take from the game at Goodison just before the international break.
Town put the pressure on Everton by sitting deep and looking to counter against the run of play and this paid off as the hosts didn’t have a shot on target, with the lion share of possession as well, and the Terriers took advantage of this (and Everton’s known weakness in defending set pieces) when Phillip Billing scored his first goal since February 2017 from a corner.
Despite Everton equalising 87 seconds later, the Yorkshire side maintained their good defensive positions and ‘worked their socks off to get a draw’ in the words of their manager David Wagner.
“I’m happy with the effort, performance and attitude from the players. We limited Everton – everyone knows how difficult it can be here – they only had shots from distance and headers.” Wagner said after the game.
He added: “I’m fine with this point, although with a bit more relaxation on the ball, we could have created more opportunities.
“We’ve discussed before that Everton don’t look the strongest on defending set-pieces. We’ve scored a great goal – we had worked on it and it paid off. Defensively our shape worked, our formation worked – we wanted to close the inside gaps and overload the wings. You have to show the passion and desire.”
Taking this and looking ahead to the game this Saturday at home to Crystal Palace, Wagner will have to set up with attack in mind (that will juxtapose the set up he has had for the first four league games of the season) and this will not only be to get the first win of the season for his side but to send the visitors away empty handed and giving them their fourth loss in a row.
With Palace’s starman Wilfred Zaha suffering a groin injury the day before their 2-0 away loss to Southampton, and him unlikely to be fully fit for the game this weekend, Town won’t have a better chance to get their first win under their belt.
Palace manager Roy Hodgson said himself after the Saints game about the importance of Zaha to his side:
“He didn’t play and again we didn’t win. It’s a pure fact that we have to learn to live with.”
Town should be looking to utilise a man that was key for them last season, Australian Aaron Mooy. The former Manchester City player was the playmaker of all of Town’s attacks last season and drove their charge towards eventual survival in the top flight. Mooy’s fellow countryman Jackson Irvine commented on how the Socceroos are going to use the midfielder going forward.
“I’ve been watching Aaron very closely and I’ve been trying to look at the new tactics and try and get a feel of what the new manager wants and how we can use his creativity going forward in games.”
With Mooy behind Steve Mounie in a number 10 role, flanked by Rajiv Van La Parra and Johnathan Hogg, in a 4-2-3-1 formation that could move into a 4-3-3 if necessary, Town will have a strong chance of winning the game.
One thing is for certain though, they must be willing to go out for the win or they will suffer for it in the future.
Huddersfield Starting XI: Jonas Lossl, Mathias Jorgensen, Christoper Schindler, Terence Kongolo, Florent Hadergjonaj, Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg, Phillip Billing, Rajiv van La Parra, Alex Pritchard and Steve Mounie.
Substitutions: Rosario Gabriel, Tom Smith, Jon Stankovic, Daniel Williams, Chris Lowe, Adama Diakhaby and Laurent Depoitre.
Crystal Palace Starting XI: Wayne Hennssey, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Martin Kelly, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick van Aanholt, Andros Townsend, James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic, Jeffery Schlupp, Christian Benteke and Jordan Ayew.
Substitutions: Vicente Guaita, Cheikhou Kouyate, Max Meyer, Jason Puncheon, Jairo Riedewald, Alexander Sorloth and Joel Ward.
Scoreline Prediction: 2-1 to Huddersfield.