Huddersfield Town Preview: Hit The Road, Jack And If You Don’t Win, Don’t Come Back

Unai Emery dubbed us “outsiders” for the Champions League places. That’s looking a bit far ahead; we’re outsiders for three points today against Huddersfield.

Rooted to the bottom of the table, they’ve taken one point from the last 36 and their home record is a succession of ‘L”s. No points in Yorkshire so far this year and just one goal scored. They haven’t netted in eight of their 13 home games with only Fulham and Cardiff failing to score.

So why the gallows humour about us joining that club?

The manner of last weekend’s performance has much to do with it. Give an Arsenal fan a free thirty seconds and we find our navels the most fascinating place on earth. The 14-match unbeaten Premier League run is long forgotten. Ironically in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way, the last game of that streak was a 1 – 0 win over Huddersfield. Perhaps they can kick-start our away form today, ready for the season run-in?

Six without a win on the road and three consecutive defeats seems terrible. Take out the defeats at Liverpool and City and no, it’s still terrible. We haven’t played well away from home since the 5 – 1 win at Fulham. That was in October. Four months on, we’re still waiting for some sign that last season’s woes on our travels are behind us.

As with last season, our home record is among the best. We’ve taken the same number of points as Liverpool at Anfield and on current form are the best in the division on our own turf. So what goes wrong once we leave the confines of N5? Do the players have a collective mental collapse? Is the coach so obsessed with the opposition that he forgets to drill a gameplan into the players’ heads?

Time To Get Ill

The answer is a combination of both, I suspect. Emery is praised for the meticulous nature of his approach which means he must be acutely aware of our deficiencies. Defensively, we’re a shambles with the flip-flopping between a back three and four failing to provide the answers. Today, we might find a solution if Dinos Mavropanos starts. At the very least, we’ll know how much of a hinderance Shkodran Mustafi is.

Whether that happens remains to be seen. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is set to miss out today according to some reports. The striker has the same bug which afflicted Laurent Koscielny late in the week but Kos was able to train on Friday so there’s little reason to think he won’t be fit. And every reason to hope Auba will be.

If he misses out, it’s easy to see us reverting to a back-three with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line. Normally, we’d expect Emery to field Monreal, Koscielny and Mustafi but if the German was so bad last week at City, how can he keep his place? Supposedly, it was the straw which broke the camel’s back and saw him put on the transfer list. If he’s that awful, we need to keep him as far away from the XI as possible.

That is the same thought process which keeps Ramsey out of the XI. The Welshman isn’t going to be here next season so Emery is investing in players who will. Apply that to the defence and Mustafi, having been told he will do one in the summer, finds the bench a comfortable place to sit.

This is likely to be wishful thinking on my part.

That’s An Expensive Bench To Be Sitting On

Another man wondering what the future holds is Mesut Ozil. Not starting against Manchester City made the message clear: Go, for the love of God. Just go. Will he, however, get some redemption today? Last weekend was so truly awful in the second half that the need for a player to provide some transition between defence and attack was underlined.

Mateo Guendouzi was trying to do everything in that wretched 45 minutes; as good as he is, he needs some support. Granit Xhaka’s return may provide that and allow the youngster to play with the “handbrake off”, as Arsene liked to say.

An alternative might be a 3-4-2-1 with Ozil and Ramsey supporting Lacazette. That ought to keep them out of each other’s way enough to allow them both to flourish but I suspect only one of the two will start. Against a functional side, sorry Mesut, Laca needs support in the box so Ramsey starts. Still, you and Shkodran can swap stories about how hard it is to sit on a bench and collect £350k per week.

All of which mental meandering leads me to my XI for the day:

Leno; Mavropanos, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Torreira, Guendouzi,  Kolasinac; Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette

It isn’t the line-up Unai Emery will chose but who knows what XI that crazy guy will pick! Just so long as we pick up all three points, he can field the Under-23’s for all I care.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

29 thoughts on “Huddersfield Town Preview: Hit The Road, Jack And If You Don’t Win, Don’t Come Back

  1. PE says:

    Nice preview.

    More pictures showed that Auba trained yesterday. He is gunning for the top scorer spot, an incentive Emery would want to capitalize on. I expect him to start.

    I feel Mustafi is grossly underrated. All the stat schools back the statement up. Amongst othe things he is our top dead ball attacker if not defender. Mavro is a good defender but his passing game is still short for escaping opposition press. He needs more time. Must be the reason when he couldn’t make the Europa squad list.

  2. andy1886 says:

    While I accept that our defensive options are some of the worst at the club in living memory, we should still be doing much better in getting the best out of a poor bunch. Historically we’ve taken some very good but not exactly world class individuals and moulded them into a top class unit. We’ve even managed to make the likes of Senderos and Djourou look half decent at times.

    Do we have the worst defenders in the top six? United are playing Smalling and Jones again today so I’d suggest not. But relative novice Solskjaer has them pretty well organised. So yes Emery has a tough job with the options he has but he should be getting more out of them than he is.

  3. YW says:

    PE

    You’ve got a typo in your post. “underrated” should be “overrated”.

  4. Colts says:

    Plz emery, we need an iwobe upgrade…

  5. Colts says:

    C,

    A deflected volley vs fodder…..
    Wasn’t hating on him, I like his roll, would love an upgrade. Leandro trossard perhaps?

  6. C says:

    Colts,

    He is one over the last 2 seasons has started to really show his quality and still only 23 years old….

  7. Colts says:

    C,

    True, I hope he ups the levels but I’m sceptical that he will. Still runs into blind alleys, has trouble beating a man on the dribble, chooses the wrong option frequently, not prolific enough. Saying all that makes me think perhaps he should play in midfield….when he’s on his game, excellent link up play, knits everything together.

  8. C says:

    Colts,

    I wouldn’t at all be opposed to him playing in a midfield 3 with Guendouzi and Torriera. With all that said, when you consider he sits on 4 goals 6 assists or something, it could be worst. I think the other thing that its all to easy to forget is that he is still only 22 (turns 23 in may according to wiki) so maybr he continues to develop and take that next step to find a bit more consistency both in his play and in his final product.

  9. Colts says:

    C,

    Not a bad record for his age, still hope we get a similar type on a higher level though. Maybe emery see’s the potential and has pencilled in Nelson to understudy? I hope not…

  10. Colts says:

    Odd, I would have put will on instead of elneny and Denis for Alex…

  11. C says:

    Our CB’s just love letting attackers get in behing them and run free on Leno.

  12. Colts says:

    C,

    Hopefully we can shift mustafi, I’d do a pool and spend big on a cb. Been a long time coming for us.

  13. consolsbob says:

    Poor result, that. A win but hardly convincing against what is a bery poor side.

  14. YW says:

    It was frankly a bit shit. Not pleasant to watch but I understand why UE went conservative given our form. It’s only worth it, however, if we push on and play with more confidence in the coming months.

  15. SV says:

    Overall, a good performance from Kos, I think he is regaining his form. But not a clean sheat in the end. Unexpectedly, a resolute performance from the hosts, so 3 points is a positive.

  16. C says:

    Lacazette now with 10 goals and 5 assists in the PL.

  17. Bill says:

    Awesome preview yogi

    Just saw the score. Fewest comments ever for a match day. Must have been an underwhelming game. 3 points is all that matters.

  18. Bill says:

    I wonder if we have seen the last of Ramsey or Ozil in the match day 18 now that Mkhitaryan is back and Suarez on board

  19. Jonnygunner says:

    C:
    Colts,

    Tough to say that when he scores

    He’s not good enough C.
    Simple.
    Dress it up as you wish-there’s always another player ready to come through at this level if you’re not delivering.He isn’t…..consistently not.
    I don’t accept that him being young is the reason-he just isn’t up to it.How long do you want to give him.We were told project youth would come to fruition- probably for ten years.We had to put up with the likes of Song,Denilson….Lord Bendtner…..to name just a few.
    In the mean time the title has gone to others..
    Youth defend the young

  20. Exit the Lemming says:

    andy1886,

    If Arsene Wenger could have created a human footballer from scratch, Mkhitaryan was the alpha and Ozil the beta. The Muddlehead 9000 series: Technically superior but effete, easily bullied, overpaid, mercurial and about as robust as a strongly worded sick-note from your Mum

  21. Bill says:

    JonnyGunner

    The team gets no special dispensation for mistakes and underperformance for players because they are young. If you have to use age as an excuse then the player is probably not ready and he should not be playing high leverage minutes

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