Southampton travel to face high-flying Huddersfield Town this weekend as the Premier League plays out its third round of fixtures before the international break. The Terriers have enjoyed a perfect start to life in the top-flight, securing maximum points from their first two matches, without conceding a goal.
On paper, the arrival of Southampton provides the Yorkshire side with their sternest test so far, with the Saints themselves unbeaten in the league. However, the South-Coast club were held to a goalless draw by Swansea and needed two penalties to see off West Ham United – after blowing a two-goal lead against 10-men.
The Saints appear to have started this season how they finished the last, struggling to score. At the end of the 16/17 campaign, Southampton failed to score in seven of their last 12 matches. On the other hand, Huddersfield have shown goal scoring quality with the likes of new forward Steve Mounie and midfielder Aaron Mooy, who struck brilliantly to sink Newcastle.
Away from the Premier League, both sides featured in the 2nd round of the EFL cup on Wednesday evening, with Huddersfield coming from behind to beat Rotherham United. The Saints were less successful, succumbing to a 2-0 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers – a surprising result considering their progress to the final in last season’s competition.
The progress made by both clubs in recent years is evident when assessing recent encounters between the two. Their last matches came in League 1 in 2010 when each claimed a victory, hardly insightful but perhaps promising for supporters of lower league teams.
Unsurprisingly, David Wagner limited the changes between his side’s Premier League victories, opting to tweak the Terriers’ formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1. For the midweek cup match only one player – Christopher Schindler – kept his starting place, meaning that the majority of his side were rested.
Mauricio Pellegrino faced a tougher decision against big spending Championship side Wolves and started four of the same team that beat West Ham. One of those who kept their place was Maya Yoshida, who could be dropped this weekend for new signing Wesley Hoedt if he is deemed ready.
Nahki Wells remains Huddersfield’s main injury concern and is expected back towards the end of September. Although he is missed as an additional option, Wagner’s preference to fielding just one forward means his absence isn’t detrimental to the team.
Southampton are still without Virgil van Dijk, who has been made unavailable for selection until the transfer window closes. Whether he will feature for the side afterward remains to be seen. The Saint’s only other concern regards recent signing Mario Lemina, whose shin was gashed by a Mark Noble challenge last weekend – he should be fit to play.
Match Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-0 Southampton
This should be a close game between two sides who have picked up decent results in the league so far. Southampton are understandably favourites considering their Premier League experience and successive top-eight finishes.
However, Wagner’s Huddersfield have won 3/3 in all competitions and look better rested of the two following the midweek ties. The Saints have only scored once in open play from three games and the Terriers are yet to concede, suggesting that the defenders will come out on top at the John Smith’s Stadium.