The matches are starting to pile for Tottenham Hotspur up as we head towards the month of October. Three days after a Carabao Cup win over Watford, Spurs will play their fifth away match in seven league games on Saturday, this time heading to Huddersfield to take on David Wagner’s Terriers.
Huddersfield were one of the surprises of last season. Wagner set up his team as a gegenpressing “Klopp-lite” squad, appropriate considering that he and Jurgen Klopp are friends and share similar philosophies of play. They surprised a number of teams, picking up a win over Manchester United and draws against Chelsea and Manchester City in May. It was enough to keep their scrappy side from the drop, finishing 16th, four points above the relegation zone.
This season Huddersfield have been trying to consolidate their place in the Premier League, and have tweaked their lineup slightly, mostly playing in a 5-2-3 formation, with fullbacks that press high to create overlaps in attack and provide service to target man Steve Mounie. This also allows them to sit deep if they need to and defend, which they’ve needed to do a lot of this season
Huddersfield’s biggest acquisitions were a pair of young players from Monaco - center back Terence Kongolo (£18m) and striker Adama Diakhaby (£9m), but while the Terriers have added an extra defender to their back line, this season they are both leaking goals and finding it hard to score them as well. They are bottom of the table in both goals scored (3) and xG (3.41) and also have the league’s joint-worst goal differential (-11). In their defense, they’ve had a tough schedule, starting the year with consecutive thumpings from Chelsea and Manchester City, but this does not look like a team that has improved from last season, and they are already early favorites for the drop.
Spurs fans will again see academy graduate Alex Pritchard in Huddersfield’s midfield band, and American supporters will note the presence of USA international midfielder Danny Williams, who has 23 caps for the USMNT.
You never look a gift horse in the mouth in the Premier League, especially on the road, but this looks like a match that Spurs should win, and win easily.
How will Tottenham line up at Huddersfield?
This match lineup is a tricky one to predict. Spurs are coming off of a midweek League Cup win over Watford, but looming over this match is the Champions League match vs. Barcelona at Wembley Stadium. That is not a match that you rotate your best players for, and Huddersfield is at the bottom of the table.
So what to do? There’s the possibility of rotation to keep some key players fresh, but you also don’t want to overlook a winnable league match. Pochettino hinted that Hugo Lloris will be assessed before the Huddersfield match, but my guess is he’ll be rested for Barca. The central defenders are more than capable of playing two high level matches in a week, and Poch likes to rotate his fullbacks, though Trippier will likely play vs. both Huddersfield and Barca.
The biggest question is how to set up the midfield, but I think it’s more likely that a few players play a lot than any meaningful rotation against Huddersfield. That just hasn’t been Poch’s way, and he’ll want to prioritize both matches. I think we see Lucas rested, but lots of minutes for Dele, Lamela, and Son in the next two matches.
With the usual caveat that this will probably be extremely wrong, this is my predicted lineup for the match at Huddersfield. What’s yours?