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Huddersfield Town

Wagner’s tactics secure historic Premier League victory for Mooy-inspired Huddersfield Town



Huddersfield Town

Newly-promoted Huddersfield Town played their first home game ever in the Premier League last Saturday at the John Smith’s Stadium. For such a momentous occasion their one-nil victory over Newcastle was the perfect result. David Wagner’s game plan, while not as spectacular as the occasion might have demanded, was effective in securing a morale-boosting win.

The pressing game that has become a feature of Huddersfield’s tactics under the tutelage of their German coach was evident from the start of the match. It was a high intensity affair with the Terriers constantly pressing Newcastle high up the field in their own half. The results were encouraging as they were able to regularly win back possession, keeping Newcastle on the defensive for most of the first half.

When building play from their defensive third, however, Huddersfield took a very cautious approach in contrast to the frenetic pace of their pressing. Aaron Mooy, who had a fantastic game, would come back into defence along with his midfield teammates, to assist the defenders in playing out from the back.

With more players coming deep, the attacks moved at a slower rate, with fewer Huddersfield players available higher up the pitch to receive passes. The primary objective of this strategy was to assist the defenders in retaining possession during the critical initial stages of build up.

Whenever the passing encountered resistance from Newcastle, Huddersfield did not hesitate to shift the ball backwards, before restarting their probing.

Wagner’s strategy may not have been as exciting as the atmosphere in the stands but it accomplished its objectives, as both the high pressing and the careful build-up play kept Newcastle away from the Huddersfield goal for most of the first half.

Perhaps the most important revelation of the game was how important midfielder Aaron Mooy will be in the execution of Wagner’s tactics, particularly at this higher level of competition at which Huddersfield now find themselves. Mooy put in a sterling performance in both attack and defence, never straying far from the play.

He was the key component in Huddersfield’s build-ups from the defensive third, coming deep to assist the defenders and distribute the ball from the back. In attack he would be found high up the pitch, lending his intelligence and superior passing to the combination play.

Mooy’s presence all over the field was vital in maintaining the coherence of Huddersfield’s attacks with his efficient ball distribution.  In the end he proved that he can do more than just support the attackers, scoring the game’s only goal early in the second half. It was a spectacular shot from the edge of the box preceded by a one-two with Elias Kachunga.

The 26-year-old’s vital role in the team, which was plainly evident on the weekend, raises the question of whether or not the Terriers can produce similarly successful team performances without him. He was critical in defence, attack and set pieces and for the moment it would appear that there is no one in the side to match his all-round prowess. This may become an issue as the season progresses.

Mooy’s goal early in the second half spurred Newcastle into life and Rafa Benitez’ men made more progress attacking the Huddersfield goal. However, they were unable to convert their opportunities as Huddersfield were forced to change their strategy and defend deep.

Huddersfield showed that they are a versatile team, able to defend high or in a low block and switch from high paced attacks – for which they have become well known – to a more cautious style.

Despite this laudable adaptability to circumstances, it was still clear that Huddersfield are not at the same level as the more established teams in the league. While they defended high and enjoyed more of the ball than their opponents, particularly in the first half, they were still unable to produce many clear-cut chances on goal and Newcastle were able to contain their attackers with relative ease.

In the second half Huddersfield were obviously in an intense struggle to keep their fellow newly-promoted team at bay, with Newcastle getting into dangerous positions and creating more opportunities. David Wagner’s tactics paid off against the Magpies and they were able to take advantage of one of the few chances that were hard to come by, while keeping a clean sheet.

Nonetheless, Wagner will be well aware that his team’s two victories from their first two Premier League games have come from Crystal Palace and Newcastle, both of whom may be considered as low-level opposition in the Premier League.

Huddersfield will have to not only maintain the intensity and tactical flexibility they demonstrated against Newcastle, but improve upon it, if they are to get something from their games against better opposition.

They will also be hoping that Aaron Mooy maintains his fitness and is able to feature throughout the season. His superior talent in both attack and defence is critical to the success of any strategy they choose to employ in the games to come.

Many Huddersfield and neutral fans may have the urge to start drawing comparisons with Leicester City’s successful Premier League title run two seasons ago. However, while Leicester’s tactics were unstoppable for many opponents, both weak and strong, Huddersfield have shown more vulnerability than the Foxes, even though Wagner’s tactics have been spot on so far.

Huddersfield may have an outstanding player in the form of Aaron Mooy, but Leicester’s title-winning team had more talent in the form of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante, as well as several others, who were outstanding in their various roles. 

At the moment  Huddersfield Town should be congratulating themselves without getting too carried away.

David Wagner’s tactical mix of caution, aggression and flexibility did the job against Newcastle, but he will need more of this kind of adaptability to his opposition for the entirety of the season.

His players must also maintain the same intensity and discipline for every game if they are to survive their first year in the Premier League against more established teams.

Huddersfield Town

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Huddersfield Town: Three talking points from Wembley

Son Heung-min was the star of the show as Tottenham Hotspur overcame Huddersfield Town.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

A double from Son Heung-min extended Tottenham Hotspur‘s unbeaten run to 11 Premier League games and consolidated their position in the top four.

The South Korean international took his tally to 10 for the season with a goal in each half, as Spurs swept past Huddersfield Town at Wembley Stadium.

It was the ideal way for Mauricio Pochettino‘s men to warm up for their crunch Champions League last 16 second-leg tie at home to Juventus on Wednesday night.

The Terriers had come into this fixture following timely back-to-back victories that had invigorated their survival bid, but they were completely outplayed and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Son underlines his growing importance to Spurs

It’s no secret that Tottenham rely heavily on Harry Kane to provide the goalscoring threat.

The England international has spearheaded the attack with distinction in the past few years, but on the rare occasions he doesn’t find the net it’s important that another Spurs player stands up.

This season, that man has invariably been Son.

Despite not being deployed as an out-and-out-striker, the former Bayer Leverkusen star, who signed for just £22 million, has chipped in with important goals that have sustained Tottenham’s charge.

After a blistering start to the campaign, Son found himself out of the side for a period. However, he has fought his way back in, contributing with goals and assists.

In all competitions he now has 15 goals this season – that’s six more than Dele Alli – at a strike rate of better than one every two games.

Son’s reliability is one of his strengths and a reason why he is becoming a vital component of the squad under Pochettino.

(Photo by Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images)

Bigger battles ahead for below-par Huddersfield

After their recent upturn in form, Huddersfield supporters would have travelled to the national stadium with hope that their side could spring a surprise.

Victories over Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion had helped the Terriers escape from the drop-zone, in what is a fascinating battle for Premier League survival.

But it was not to be at Wembley, as Spurs flexed their muscles and carried on from where they left off in the second half against Rochdale in midweek.

It sounds obvious, but Huddersfield’s hopes do not rest on results against the likes of Tottenham – it’s the games against their rivals in the lower half of the table that matter.

With that in mind, the next four fixtures could be key to determining the fate of David Wagner’s side.

Next up is a home clash with Swansea City, swiftly followed by matches against Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Make or break? It very much could be for Huddersfield.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Spurs’ attentions turn to the Champions League

Professional footballers though they may be, it would have been understandable if Spurs already had one eye on their mouth-watering Champions League encounter with Italian giants Juventus on Wednesday.

At 2-2 the tie is evenly poised, but with home advantage and two away goals in the bank, Tottenham have a realistic opportunity to progress to the last eight of the competition, knocking out last year’s runners-up in the progress.

Spurs are more than capable of reaching the quarter-finals and Pochettino, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Friday, will be buoyed by their recent endeavours.

Their unbeaten sequence, which stretches back to December, is the longest of any top-flight club.

Kane and Son are in prolific form in front of goal, while at the back, only two sides have better defensive records in the Premier League.

Juventus will put up stern resistance, but Tottenham are equipped to overcome the challenge.

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Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town 0-2 Manchester United: Three talking points from the John Smith’s Stadium

Rob Meech brings us three talking points from the John Smith’s Stadium as Manchester United overcame Huddersfield Town in their FA Cup 5th Round contest.

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

A brace from sharpshooter Romelu Lukaku fired Manchester United into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the expense of Huddersfield Town.

Lukaku opened his account in the third minute before netting his second of the evening shortly after the second-half resumption.

Victory was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggested. However, as the Terriers produced a spirited display after the early setback.

There was also controversy involving the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.

Juan Mata saw an effort ruled out for offside after a review, but confusion abounded about whether it had been the correct decision.

Here are three talking points from an eventful encounter, as United set up a last-eight tie with Brighton & Hove Albion

Lukaku’s goals are a fillip for Jose Mourinho

The Belgian has come in for criticism from some quarters for his goal return since last summer’s big-money transfer from Everton.

While he may not have reached the levels of Harry Kane or Mohamed Salah, Lukaku has now scored 21 times in all competitions for United this season.

That tally was boosted by his double against Huddersfield, which showed off his best attributes.

Lukaku was too strong and clever for Huddersfield’s defence as he latched on to Mata’s through ball for the first, before putting the finishing touch to an Alexis Sanchez pass for his second.

The former Chelsea man’s performance will be the biggest plus for United boss Jose Mourinho, who is relying on him to spearhead the attack for the remainder of the campaign.

Lukaku is a confidence player, so this was a timely boost ahead of a crucial run of fixtures both domestically and in Europe.

VAR under the microscope yet again

The introduction of technology to any sport usually results in teething problems.

It is fair to say VAR has experienced more than its fair share in football this season.

Employed in some FA and League Cup matches, controversy has never been far away. This was again the case at Huddersfield.

Mata appeared to have doubled United’s lead just before half-time, but referee Kevin Friend waited for confirmation from VAR that he had been onside.

After about a minute, Friend disallowed the goal when it was judged that Mata had been fractionally offside as the ball was played.

Contention emerged when viewers saw the incident on TV, where the guidelines were clearly not straight.

In fact, they were embarrassingly wonky.

Further replays suggested – with parallel lines correctly in place – that Mata’s knee had indeed been offside, but it was a very close call and certainly not an obvious mistake by the referee’s assistant.

These technical hitches will need to be ironed out before VAR is brought in universally.

Huddersfield can be positive despite FA Cup exit

With their Premier League status hanging in the balance, it would have been understandable if Huddersfield manager David Wagner had seen this fixture as an unwanted distraction.

But there was absolutely no suggestion that they were trying not to win the match, or prepared to exit the competition without a fight.

The Terriers, who famously beat United at home in the Premier League last October, carried on from where they left off last weekend in the impressive 4-1 victory over Bournemouth.

Conceding so early to United had not been in the script, but the hosts regrouped quickly and caused their opponents plenty of problems.

Ultimately, the difference between the two sides was the quality of finishing.

Whereas the visitors scored with their only two shots on target, Huddersfield wasted numerous openings as they slipped to defeat.

Nevertheless, attention can be turned back to their bid for survival, without their confidence dented.

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Huddersfield Town 4-1 Bournemouth: Alex Pritchard steals plaudits after running the show

Rob Meech brings us three talking points from the John Smith’s Stadium as Huddersfield Town took a huge leap in the race for survival with a 4-1 victory over Bournemouth.

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Huddersfield Town produced a four-star performance to brush aside Bournemouth and move out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Junior Stanislas quickly cancelled out Alex Pritchard’s seventh-minute opener, but from that moment it was one-way traffic as the Terriers showed their bite on a freezing afternoon in Yorkshire.

A Steve Cook own goal made it 2-1 at half-time before Steve Mounie and a stoppage-time penalty from Rajiv van la Parra completed the drubbing.

Huddersfield climbed to 17th as a result of this much-needed victory, while Bournemouth’s excellent recent form came to an abrupt halt with their first defeat of 2018.

Here are three talking points…

Huddersfield breathe new life into survival bid

Boss David Wagner had highlighted his side’s upcoming run of fixtures as crucial to their ambitions of avoiding relegation back to the Championship.

On the back of five consecutive defeats, Huddersfield had free-fallen into the drop-zone.

Although the win over Manchester United will take some beating in the eyes of the fans, given their predicament this was arguably their most important three points of the campaign.

It was a crushing triumph and one that the Terriers fully deserved.

Yes, they caught the visitors on a bad day, but much of that was due to the nature of Huddersfield’s display.

They gave Bournemouth no time on the ball to play their natural passing game and took their chances when they came along.

Especially from set-pieces, Wagner’s men looked dangerous and exploited the Cherries’ weakness in the air.

The bottom half of the table remains incredibly congested, but this result gives Huddersfield genuine hope that survival is possible.

Bournemouth’s unbeaten run comes to a crashing end

Entering this match at the top of the form table, this was Bournemouth’s worst result of the season.

From the first whistle they were out-battled by a Huddersfield side that were fighting for their lives.

Perhaps an air of complacency had surfaced following the Cherries’ unbeaten sequence, which had stood at seven games and included victories over Chelsea and Arsenal.

Talk of qualifying for the Europa League can now be parked to one side.

Despite being in 10th position, Bournemouth are not assured of survival just yet.

Boss Eddie Howe will back his troops to get the three wins they need to reach the 40-point mark, but this was a reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in the Premier League.

He will be thoroughly bemused by this showing.

It was a day to forget for the Cherries and their dedicated supporters, who had left in the very early hours to embark on the long journey north for this lunch-time kick-off.

Pritchard brings ingenuity to the Terriers’ ranks

Although Huddersfield’s win was a by-product of a real team effort, one player that deserves special praise is new recruit Pritchard.

Signed from Norwich City in the January window, he ran the show in midfield, making the Terriers tick with crisp passing.

Pritchard opened the scoring in the early exchanges with a well-taken finish for his first ever Premier League goal, at the seventh attempt.

He had previously played in the top-flight with Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion.

There is always a risk attached to any new signing from a lower division, but Pritchard had demonstrated enough class for Norwich to indicate he would be able to make the step-up.

The 24-year-old will face tougher challenges in his midfield role, but he has brought a touch of guile and class to Huddersfield.

Pritchard’s teasing run that induced the foul for a penalty in added-time underlined his capability to make things happen.

Wagner will hope it is a positive sign for the run-in.

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