Huddersfield Preview: All Change But Three Points Demanded

Yesterday’s confirmation that Rob Holding misses the remainder of the season came as no surprise; it’s just distinctly unwelcome. Unai Emery’s decision on how to compensate – Lichtsteiner in a trio or four at the back – was already made, I’m sure. Other clubs routinely play a full-back in a back three; why should we be any different?

There are other issues on his mind as well. Mesut Özil returned to training yesterday. Is he ready to return or is it too soon for his ‘backache’? Mind you, if Bournemouth were too physical for him, there’s no hope of him appearing today. No disrespect to Huddersfield intended but they aren’t shrinking violets.

After two intense fixtures in three days, there is bound to be some rotation of the side. Aaron Ramsey misses out due to a twisted ankle which opens up the attacking midfield slot. I wonder if Emil Smith Rowe is the candidate? Although it is the perfect opportunity for the youngster, Emery has other options. This, however, chimes with the oft-stated intention of developing the academy players into first XI regulars.

Emery’s first order of business is the defence. “We are,” he said to press, “conceding more goals than we want.” More goals through errors than we want is the unspoken text. Oh, and offside, divey-cheaty goals not spotted by the officials. We have to compensate for that by not giving goals away cheaply. Yes Sead, I’m looking at you.

That, in part, comes through understanding what is happening. The goal at Old Trafford reminded me of Birmingham’s winner at Wembley in 2011. Poor communication and no-one taking charge of the situation. In similar circumstances, I’m sure Kolasinac will put his boot through the ball. Or Leno will ‘total’ everyone and win a free-kick.

The Bits Before The Pieces

With a rotated side, no-one will be surprised if serve up a disjointed performance. A winning one, but bits and pieces. We just hope the good bits are enough to take three points before we fall to pieces. 

On a positive note, Granit Xhaka returns from suspension to resume his partnership with Lucas Torreira. That’s pivotal to Emery’s demand we concede fewer goals. While we score plenty and are the second-highest scoring team in the Premier League, we’ve conceded as many as Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

With that kind of record, we’re going to need Aubameyang and Lacazette to stay injury-free. Which may well see the former rested today, or at the very least dropping to the bench with a view to not being used at all. Should Unai Emery rest him completely and give Eddie Nketiah a chance? I suspect that will happen on Thursday night.

Emery noted that while wonder who is playing, he is constructing tweaks to the way we are playing:

Football happens very quickly, with positive things, negative things, but you need to learn. And you need to create a new victory, a new way every day. We want to create a stronger idea with good positioning on the pitch with the ball, good combinations between us so we can dominate the match.

And therein is the rub. We’re a work-in-progress with more attention needed at the back than in attack. However, there’s a balance required on the pitch and this is the biggest task Unai Emery faces: finding the routines which keep us scoring but conceding fewer.

The XI tasked with that today will be something like:

Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Mkhitaryan, Iwobi; Lacazette

If it’s a back four, Lichtsteiner out, Smith Rowe into the midfield in a 4-2-3-1.

Is That It?

Whatever the case, it’s a must-win match with City and Chelsea facing each other this afternoon. I don’t expect anything other than a Sarri state of affairs from the Russians so we can put pressure on them with three points and stealing their place in the top four.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

til Tomorrow.

34 thoughts on “Huddersfield Preview: All Change But Three Points Demanded

  1. How different our expectations are this season than last.

    We would have been pretty cynical about getting a positive result and would probably have expected the worst.

    The world looks better now.

  2. Can’t help thinking that if an outfield player took someone out like the Liverpool keeper did then, it would have been a foul and a penalty.

  3. Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Sokratis; Bellerin, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi Kolasinac; Aubameyang, Lacazette

    Surprised Iwobi or miki haven’t started. I guess it gives him options of the bench.

  4. Hello all, good luck to the boys today. So far i’ve noticed one positive.. We finally have a keeper who can blast it all the way to the opposition box. Not like the ooooooooooospinaaaaa days where it barely made it to midfield !

  5. Feeling the irony that one of ours should get booked for simulation this week. He could have been forgiven for thinking it was not just allowed but rewarded…

  6. This would not be a game we expect or afford to drop points. However a bit of mental letdown after the week we had is not a surprise.

  7. And a third. That one was pretty blatant. Starting to wonder if Unai’s said “It seems to work for everyone else, give diving a go.”

  8. C:
    Not Kos, its Nacho coming on

    He’s clever, this Emery. Knows Kos will Have to play at Soton. Save his efforts, risk, and give him extra days of training. Good call .
    So will it be Dinos? Hardly trained ,or Zach?. or Plez.
    Gotta be worth trying out the combination against this Carrierbags. Give Kos a half anyway.

    3 points well sweated.

  9. Very happy with Unai this week. Three tough games with universally poor refereeing. 7 points. Plus Europa group already wrapped up, so no need to risk anyone in the final game. Judging by the mounting injuries and suspensions, he has tough times to come.

    I’m not one of those who thinks spending is always the answer but this is a manager who would make the best of any resources he might be given in January. To put it in financial terms for the ownership: here is someone who will give you a good return on investment.

  10. 10 days, 4 games, 10 points…..Very good results. We’ve now got a week rest whilst our B team deals with Qarabag….Deserved rest. Don’t care how we played. No Ramsey. No Ozil. It wasn’t going to be a fluid performance off the back of two huge games vs rivals. But we won and i have to say we looked quite solid. just lacking creativity in midfield today. And Laca having another goal taken off him.

    Bellerin MOTM for me, was solid today.

    Referee was completely out of depth….And linesman was an idiot.

  11. Happy city are losing. Annoyed Chelsea are winning.

    No invincibles for City again. Oh well.

    Gotta hope Leicester win now….

  12. To think that we are now 21 unbeaten and in both of our losses, with better finishing we at least grab a draw….excellent stuff.

    7 points in 10 days is good stuff.

    The more I watch Torriera, his influence in the team reminds me so much of the influence Gilberto Silva had at Arsenal. What he does allows for those around him to not only feel secure but play more naturally and do what their good at.

  13. Amazing really that after their start man city are second
    Suddenly the top 6 takes form again
    Very competitive
    Shame we couldn’t have cast man u adrift permanently
    But very happy with 1-0
    Just collect those points and regroup
    Was hoping to see ozil behind our fab 2 today…

  14. YW,

    You recent run of 7am post is almost as impressive as what Emery, Mislintat and Sanllehi have done with our club and this 21 match unbeaten run.

  15. Whether at RB or at RWB, Bellerin has been superb all season and if not for how brilliant Torriera has been, I would throw my vote at Bellerin for Player of the Season thus far.

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