Huddersfield Town’s reward for their incredible against-the-odds promotion last season is their first taste of Premier League football.
The Terriers have had a 45-year break from top-flight football since their relegation from the old Division 1 back in 1972.
Now back in the big time, Huddersfield will once again try to defy the odds, this time by securing their Premier League status for another year.
Last season the Terriers, under the watchful eye of David Wagner, continued to impress with their attacking style of football. As the season progressed, more and more people started taking Huddersfield seriously and for some time automatic promotion was a possibility.
However it wasn’t to be, and Huddersfield had to do it the hard way. After seeing off local rivals Sheffield Wednesday over two legs it all came down to the final against Reading.
Wembley has not seen many games with so few chances, in what was an anti-climactic final. The Huddersfield fans didn’t care one bit though, as Christopher Schindler’s winning penalty secured promotion.
How has their summer gone?
Huddersfield have not fallen for the same mistakes previously promoted clubs have. Wagner and the club knew if they wanted to survive this season they needed to invest.
The Terriers have added eight players to their squad, including Aaron Mooy and Elias Kachunga who played a big part last season whilst at the club on loan.
Scott Malone, Tom Ince, Zanka, Danny Williams, Laurent Depoitre and record-signing Steve Mounie have all been recruited to join the Terriers’ ranks.
Most importantly, Huddersfield have not sold a single first-team player in the summer. This combination of old and new players will give them the best possible chance of survival this season.
Their preseason, however, has perhaps not been as successful as they would have hoped. The Terriers beat lower league opposition in the form of Accrington Stanley, Bury and local rivals Barnsley in their only three wins.
The other two positive results came against Bundesliga and Serie A sides, Stuttgart and Torino respectively. The Terriers picked up draws against both these top-flight European teams.
Huddersfield’s preseason defeats came against Udinese and German second-tier side Sandhausen. The latter defeat will be the most disappointing for Wagner, who fielded a near full-strength side against their opposition.
That all being said, preseason form is not a definite sign of how a team’s season will go. If the Terriers can beat Crystal Palace in the season opener, the fans will soon forget who Sandhausen are.
Manager: David Wagner
This season will be Wagner’s first season as a top-flight manager. The energetic and enthusiastic German was one of the Championship’s most exciting individuals last season and will relish this opportunity.
Before Huddersfield, Wagner was Jurgen Klopp’s number two at Borussia Dortmund, which was evident from Huddersfield’s style last season.
Last season Huddersfield and Liverpool played very similar football. Both looked to play their most creative and forward-thinking eleven even if it cost them goals.
The ‘Out-score your opponents’ approach was shown by both clubs. Neither were the most defensively sound side but going forward they caused defences a nightmare.
Last season the Terriers won each of their first five home games by a one goal margin whilst Liverpool won their season opener 4-3 away to Arsenal.
This season Huddersfield will not be able to play quite as open football. Newly promoted teams who try to play open, expansive football will be picked apart by the quality players in the top flight.
It will be a real test for Wagner to keep Huddersfield up, but his popularity amongst supporters is unquestionable. Even if the Terriers find themselves in trouble they will likely stick by their manager.
How could the Terriers line up this season?
Who are Huddersfield’s best fantasy football options?
Fantasy football fans will build the majority of their squad from teams who will compete for European places. Every player will reach that stage where they have a few million left and two or three spots still to fill.
At this point players from less favourable clubs start being picked, so which Huddersfield players are worth taking a risk on?
Steve Mounie and Aaron Mooy are two Terriers players who will pick up fantasy football points this season.
At 5.5m Mooy could be a bargain. He will be influential for Huddersfield this season. If the Terriers do have a successful start to the season, the Australian international will be at the centre of the action.
Mounie, at 6.0m, would definitely be a risky selection but one which could prove extremely valuable. The striker is a proven talent in Ligue 1 in France but he is a complete wildcard in the Premier League.
If you can find a cheap striker who scores bags of goals your fantasy football team has a massive advantage and Mounie could prove to be that player.
If Mounie doesn’t live up to his potential, Elias Kachunga could be a suitable replacement.
Premier League Verdict
A lot of Huddersfield’s success will come down to the impact of their new recruits.
If the Premier League first-timers come good, Huddersfield may well avoid the drop, but the odds are stacked against them.
The team promoted through the play-offs is almost always tipped to go straight back down and Huddersfield are no exception.
Currently, the Terriers do not have much strength in depth in central midfield. If Mooy or Williams pick up an injury, Huddersfield could find themselves a little thin on the ground.
Wagner may try to tempt one or two players with Premier League experience to the John Smith’s Stadium before the window closes to boost Huddersfield’s chances.
Whether they get more players in or not, Huddersfield have a fighting chance of survival. Their summer signings show real intent and even if things look bleak, Wagner will not let his players give up.