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Scout Report: Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield have tried everything to get out of the mire. Jan Siewert only lasted two weeks into the season, to be replaced by The Cowley Brothers. The turnaround (if you can call it that) was slow, with the team not winning until October. Much has been made of Town's long injury list, and up to this point they've used more players than anybody else in the league.

The loans of Smith Rowe, Chalobah, and Lossl (they're second loan keeper of the season) have helped to bolster Huddersfield's squad

They have, however, been fairly consistent with the 4-2-3-1. And, maybe counter-intuitively given their position, it does seem a system designed to play to their strengths. They have physical target men, with a tireless midfield - many of whom want to work it inside onto their stronger foot to shoot. In Hogg and Chalobah you have natural holding midfielders. Though they have struggled at fullback, sometimes resorting to playing Hadergjonaj on his weaker side, or having to opt for youth just to make up numbers.

Grabban just runs straight through the middle.

Christopher Schindler, however, is one of only twelve players to play every minute of the season so far. Both he and his centre back partner - be it Elphick, Stankovic, or Stearman - are good on the ball, and are happy to run into space if it's afforded to them a la Andre Wisdom. Perhaps it's a lack of movement, pace, or concentration but centre-forwards do seem to be able to play between the two CBs. Lewis Grabban netted his 19th goal of the season with a simple run through the middle; Stearman far too late in stepping up.

Smith Rowe on the counter squares up Gardener before playing it to the onrushing Toffolo. His pass into the box sees Grant skip round a flying Birmingham City shirt to win the penalty.

Danny Simpson had been playing right-back, but his short-term deal ran out at the end of June, and Hadergjonaj, who had played on both sides of defence, was sent on loan in January. Therefore Demeaco Duhaney, who was on loan at Boston United before being recalled in December, is the main option post-lockdown. So far he's not played a key pass, had a shot, or completed a cross in 265 minutes of football, and it's down the other side - with Henry Toffolo firmly first choice - where the main attacking threat is. To be fair, both full-backs offer width while the wide men cut inside. They're actually looking to work the ball into the box, rather than crossing - they're second bottom to one 'Reading FC' in terms of crosses per game.

Mounié should be front post, Worrall makes a run from deep and nods in near post.

Set pieces at both ends have been crucial to the team's fortunes. In Juninho Bacuna and Toffolo they have players that can put a decent delivery in, but they've struggled to convert. Their nine goals from set-pieces only enough to see them above Fulham and Barnsley. The company their in is enough to tell you that scoring from dead-ball situations is not enough to explain their situation entirely, but defensively they've been far too porous. They've conceded 21 goals this season, a league-high, and they don't even mark zonally. Perhaps it's the constant rotation of players that makes it hard to ever fully know what job each is meant to be doing, but there are just players left completely unmarked regularly.

The style of play Huddersfield play depends on who they have available up top. Mounié allows the centre backs to bypass the midfield with his aerial threat, but due to injury he's only just broken 1,000 minutes this season despite his goalscoring record (0.63 p90 - team best, 4th in Championship over 1,000 minutes). More likely is Frazier Campbell or Karlan Grant who are both more comfortable with the ball at their feet. Indeed the latter is fourth in the Championship's overall leading goalscorer but can also play on the left-wing and cut in to allow both men to feature. You could make a compilation of Grant receiving the ball on the left side, getting the ball onto his right, and curling into the far corner.

ESR puts pressure on the Birmingham defender after Mounié wins the flick on. He wins the ball, but Camp is out quickly and he scuffs the shot.

What doesn't change is The Terriers tend to defend from the front, with a high press to attempt to win the ball back. If Mounié is on the pitch then it's almost irrelevant who ends up with the ball after passes into him, as long Town are pressing up the field. Obviously, that's more difficult after the restart with teams lacking fitness, but Birmingham still seriously struggled against it.

With the ball he makes an arching run, when he gets cut off he looks for more space before spotting the run of Willock.

Playing through midfield is undoubtedly aided by bringing in Emile Smith Rowe on loan in January. The teenager is not afraid to pick the ball up deep and drive forward. That ball carrying ability, combined with his speed on the ball, allows Town to break quickly. He's unselfish, and has decent decision making. So often his contribution does not show up in the statistics, given that he can be the transition phase and create opportunities without being involved in the final pass. A real talent at 19.

It must be said that there were already a host of technically gifted players in the squad to supplement him. J. Bacuna seems able to make space in any situation and can pick a pass, but his stupid red card against Nottingham Forest will keep him out of the game at The Madejski. Alex Pritchard's long road back to full fitness seems to be almost complete and has been used as a rotation option since the restart. Lewis O'Brien is having a breakthrough season. Another youngster at just 21, he tends to be the more aggressive option in the double pivot, with Trevor Chalobah (Huddersfield is simply littered with former Reading players' brothers (2)) or Jonathon Hogg holding.

Considering as Reading, according to WhoScored, are allegedly weak at defending versus skilful players that may be an issue, but without Bacuna the rest are not skilful in the same way as just good in tight spaces. Likewise, WS is adamant we're not good at defending counter attacks - that would be worrisome. Pelé admittedly does help in this regard (sometimes), and you'd expect him to be looking after ESR. Vokes introduction in the second half against Stoke caused issues for Morrison, which Mounié could look to take advantage of, but, similarly to Vokes himself, it's unlikely we'll see him before the final 30 minutes.

Watching Huddersfield matches, it's surprising to see them struggle so much - so in that regard we're two peas in a pod. I actually like watching Huddersfield play though, so I guess there are some distinct differences too. I could see this being cagey. Reading's full backs do tend to negate wide players. It seems ridiculous to say given that Lawrence and Waghorn were obviously instrumental in both goals, but at Derby Gunter and Richards did a good job for the majority. Do Huddersfield have the same quality - or confidence - to punish lapses like The Rams did? I guess we'll find out. Likewise, Huddersfield have cover centrally for when Reading try to play through the middle. I'd take a 0-0 at this stage, to be fair.


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