Oli mentioned it on the podcast we recorded after Wednesday night’s win against QPR but, our home form and away form have been like chalk and cheese so far this season. If that continues to be the case come Saturday evening, I’ll be a very happy chap and Saturday’s podcast will probably be a cheery one.
But, let’s not take anything away from Huddersfield here, this will be a tough game. They have started the season well, I think I tipped them for the bottom 3 in our pre-season prediction podcast and their form in the opening 6 games, if they keep it up, will see them stay well clear of the bottom 3.
Now, this might be complete pish to you, or you might be more concerned by stats like these but North End haven’t won away at Huddersfield since February 1st, 1992. Do things like this weigh on a footballer’s mind? Almost certainly not.
However, if you look into it, when we last won it was when both sides were in Division 3 and since then, there’ve not been many times we’ve both been in the same league as we’ve only played 12 league games against one another in pretty much 28 years.
Anyway, let’s hope this game isn’t another awful goalless draw like the game away at Huddersfield last season.
Perhaps the first place some might go to here is Frazier Campbell but looking at his numbers for the Championship in recent times, he’s never been prolific at this level. Last season for Huddersfield, he started 21 games with 12 substitute appearances and had 5 goal contributions (3G, 2A).
Yes, he was competing with Karlan Grant who has recently joined West Brom but still, he’s a lot less prolific than I thought he was.
One area to look at is the left wing-back/full-back. Harry Toffolo has been one of the Terriers’ standout performers so far this season. He has two assists to his name and a goal, too.
He’s 4th for the most key passes made per game for Huddersfield this season which isn’t bad for a player who’s starting at full-back/wing-back.
My next ‘one to watch’ if you will, is Josh Koroma. He made his debut in football only 4 years ago for Leyton Orient as 17 year old and has risen through the leagues with a spell at Orient before he moved on to Huddersfield in 2019. He then signed for Rotherham United on loan but only made 5 appearances for them.
This season, however, he’s hit the ground running. He’s started all 6 games for the Terriers and has his first goal at Championship level after he bagged what would prove to be the winning goal against Swansea City on Saturday.
He’s versatile and has started across the frontline in his 6 games so far this season for Huddersfield. He’s a right-footed player who likes to cut inside and that’s exactly what he did for his goal against Swansea.
He collected the ball on the left after a deflected cross, created some space for himself after coming central with the ball on his right foot and finished smartly into the keeper’s bottom right-hand corner.
So far this season, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen, plus we’ve had ten points out of our last four games so you can’t argue with that.
We’re playing some great stuff and it’s exciting to watch Huddersfield again, which I’ve not been able to say in a long time. I’d pepper the excitement though as I think our starting XI is good but the squad is worse than we had under Danny Cowley and we only just avoided relegation. I’m really pleased with Corberan and it all sounds positive so far and the squad harmony looks positive at the moment but the club is putting a lot of faith in him and his management, without giving him all the tools to do it.
Is that because of COVID and finances? Yeah, I’m sure that’s a part of it, but it’s a long difficult season in the Championship so we’ll see.
Since the last time we faced each other, we sacked the Cowley brothers and brought in Carlos Corberan and initially, I was very disappointed. After beating West Brom to avoid relegation, to get rid of the Cowleys’ just two days after seemed to come out of the blue.
A lot has been made about their style of play, but they joined with the club having just two points after the first nine games, results were the priority, not the style of play. Given how much the club has gone through in the last four years, an unexpected promotion to a gut-wrenching relegation, I think Huddersfield needed some stability and the Cowleys provided that.
The style of play from Corberan’s team though has made it a lot more positive around the place as have the wins, but I have no doubt that the Cowleys’ will be Premier League managers at some point and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us. Still, I’m really happy with what I’ve seen from Carlos so far, let’s hope the great play and wins continue.
We’ve also sold top scorer Karlan Grant and he scored 19 goals last season, and second top scorer Steve Mounie so I worry about our lack of goals throughout the season but as I say, it’s nice to feel positive at the moment.
For the rest of the season, I’d hope for anywhere between 12-16th and I’d take that if we show progress and the club has something to build on for the season after. I look at teams like Norwich for example and see how Daniel Farke didn’t click until his second season in charge and think it could be the same for Huddersfield.
I think inconsistency is going to be too much of a factor for a higher league finish, but we’ll probably have some eye-catching, unexpected wins that help to boost the feel-good factor around the club. I wouldn’t underestimate the mental fatigue that still hangs around Huddersfield from that dreadful relegation from the Premier League and if we have a bad patch, it might be another long season in-store for us at the wrong end of the table.
Even though we’re playing at home, not that playing at home matters at the moment with no fans, I think this will be a difficult match. We always struggle against Preston, last season at home we drew 0-0 which suited both teams.
I imagine you’ll set up to frustrate us and stop us from playing plus Preston are good at those tactical fouls which disrupt our rhythm. I think it depends on which Preston turn up, though. If the team that beat Brentford turns up then I’d worry, but you’ve struggled for a bit of consistency so far.
Plus, the win in midweek against QPR will have helped your confidence.
Providing everyone’s fit, I’d expect a 3-5-2 formation we played at Swansea. Hamer in goal, Schindler, Stearman and new signing Naby Sarr as the three, Pipa and Toffolo who have been excellent so far as our wing-backs with Bacuna, Hogg and Eiting in the middle and Mbenza and Koroma up-front.
Corberan will change his formation depending on what he thinks the opposition will play so don’t be surprised if that changes during the game.
We’ve been on a good run but we’ve not been creating a lot of clear cut chances, so I think this will be a game where we don’t get on the scoresheet because you’ll restrict us too much. I’ll go for a 0-0 unfortunately but I hope I’m wrong because given how much of a faff iFollow is to sort, I don’t want to go through the effort of setting that up for a boring 0-0!
As for predictions, I am usually pants at this. I’m not sure I’ve gotten any right in the past, at least as far as the scores are concerned.
For this one though, I said we would win 1-0 on the podcast and I’ll stick with that prediction. I think we’ll stifle Huddersfield, make it difficult for them to play and I think the new boy, our new Danish King, Emil Riis will get his first for the club after an impressive full debut against QPR on Wednesday night.
As for an XI prediction, this could be miles out but I’ll go with the following in a 4-2-3-1: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Storey, Hughes; Ledson, Browne; Barkhuizen, Harrop, Sinclair; Riis.
I think Harrop will get a start, DJ went down with cramp on Wednesday night and Alex might not want to push him through a second game in such a short period of time.
I also think Barky will come in for Potts. With his pace, he might cause Toffolo some problems, especially as he’s quite an attacking full-back, he might leave some space in behind that we could exploit.
How do you think Alex Neil will line up on Saturday? Let us know on twitter – @fromthefinney.
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