Huddersfield ended the opening day of last season top of the Premier League after a 3-0 away win. This season we start from the opposite end of the table after an exact reversal of that scoreline. The following 6-1 massacre at Man City has got some fans worried already but it is important to keep things in perspective. We lost these matches to the current and previous champions. Arsenal suffered the same fate already this season and no doubt many other teams will too.
While victories over the top teams are enjoyable, they are not the most decisive results in a relegation battle. One doom-monger has pointed out that we would have been relegated without the five points we took from “top six” clubs last season. But the fact is we lost nine times out of twelve meetings with those teams and still survived.
The performance at home to Chelsea showed plenty of potential. We were unlucky to be 2-0 down at half time, having created some good chances and perhaps been the better team. Fine margins decided the result: a mishit shot that bounced over the keeper and a penalty. At the other end we hit the woodwork and were denied a clear penalty of our own. In the second half we faded away as the game was already gone against such superior opposition.
With the quality of Man City and absence of key players such as Zanka, Hogg, Mooy and Lossl, we never really had a chance in our second fixture. Wagner and the team seemed to treat the match as an extension of pre-season and looked relaxed and happy at full time. Mooy missed the match to be at the birth of his son and should be back for Cardiff on Saturday. Hopefully Zanka and Hoog’s injuries were mere precautions and they also start, along with Lossl who returned late after the World Cup.
Matches against the teams around us in the table are more important than these fixtures and also present more realistic opportunities to gain points. Picking up injuries or suspensions by going hammer and tong in virtually unwinnable matches makes no sense in the grand scheme of things. We should soon have a clean bill of health after our difficult start, putting us in a strong position to start climbing the table. I feel that Saturday will be the first real indication of our chances this season. Cardiff look decent and Huddersfield legend Neil Warnock will surely give us a tough test but I think we will have enough quality to get a result.
In our first Premier League season, we spent just one week in the relegation zone. This sparked a resurgence in form after a long losing streak. Like the dogs we get our nickname from, the Terriers seem to be at their best when they are chasing and David Wagner excels at the psychological aspect of the game. His level-headed approach ensures the players don’t over-react to good or bad form and I feel this has been crucial to our success throughout his reign.
Predictably, Town have provided the fewest points of any team in FPL so far. The entire Huddersfield defence has a combined score of zero points after two gameweeks, top goalscorer Jon Stankovic (4.0) keeping us out of the negative with his +5pts. He was one of the better performers, despite playing his first competitive football for over a year and his first ever Premier League match out of position. Some might be fooled into thinking he is the new Wan-Bissaka but he is unlikely to play many more league games this season.
Ben Hamer in goal also looks like good value on paper. He’s a 4.0 starting keeper who picked up three save points against Man City and is just one point behind De Gea (6.0) so far. However he fails the eye test and is unlikely to keep starting long term. His distribution is poor and he has already cost us a few goals with simple errors. I went with both Huddersfield keepers in my team and am happy to set and forget that position but if you went with just Hamer, you need to be happy to play your other keeper every week and have a non-playing sub.
Lossl (4.5) and a few defenders look like they could drop in price soon and some really good value could emerge from this as the fixtures pick up. Diakhaby (4.9) in midfield has dropped already and possesses enough pace to cause defences problems. I can imagine his price rising again if he secures a first team place. Billing (4.5) had a great pre-season and has been ever-present so far this season, hinting at great value as a fifth midfielder. Whether he continues to start remains to be seen though and I suspect we will switch to 4-2-3-1 against Cardiff and play Mooy and Hogg instead.
Mounie has played all but seven minutes of the first two games and has an assist, whereas Depoitre came on at half time in both. Make of that what you will; it’s a toss of a coin which will start one week to the next. I tipped Alex Pritchard (5.0) as a budget midfielder to watch out for and stand by that, despite him being pulled at half time in both games. He has been one of our standout performers so far and I suspect that he was subbed to keep him fresh for a time when he can have more impact on results. I would be surprised if he doesn’t play at least 70 minutes against Cardiff and think he could provide attacking returns there. And finally, an article on Huddersfield wouldn’t be complete without a mention for Colin Quaner (£4.5m). He looked impressive and grabbed a brace recently for the Development squad. So watch out!