Premier League 2018-19, Preview: Huddersfield vs Crystal Palace
Huddersfield's slow start to the season was by and large expected by both the Town faithful and followers of the Premier League, but is still cause for concern for manager David Wagner. The Terriers are winless in their opening four matches of the campaign but are outside of the relegation zone due to their impressive draw away against Everton.
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, are in 15th but did pick up their first - and so far only - victory against Fulham on the opening day. It's early days, but this has the air of a real relegation six-pointer about it already. A win for either side will put daylight between them and the bottom three, but a loss will likely send them below the dotted line.
Everton 1-1 Huddersfield (Premier League)
Huddersfield may be winless so far, but their draw away against Everton is high cause for optimism. The Terriers endured pressure from the Toffees but defended well and took the lead just after the half-hour mark. The lead didn't last long though, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalized just a few minutes later.
That was the home side's only shot on target in a match that wasn't much entertainment for the neutral. Everton bossed possession but couldn't create good chances, while Huddersfield failed to convert their opportunities despite seeing little of the ball.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton (Premier League)
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, failed to pick up anything as Southampton got their first win of the 2018-19 season. The contest was an even one in terms of possession and chances created but it was the away side who was more clinical and left with all three points. Roy Hodgson's side is one that will be in the relegation scrap this season, especially if they continue to lose points at home against the side in and around them.
Ben Hamer is available again after missing the game against Everton before the international break and the English stopper is likely to feature, being preferred over Lossl by David Wagner this far. Ramadan Sobhi is also available but will do well to start. Wagner could go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that he prefers at home, rather than the 5 at the back away from the John Smith's.
Wilfried Zaha is back for selection after the international break, but Christian Benteke could be out after picking up a reported ankle injury in Belgium. Max Meyer could also be in line for a first start of the season, after building up fitness over the last few weeks. James Tomkins is also rumoured to be injured.
Key Player: Wilfried Zaha
With 22 footballers on the pitch at the start of the game, it's usually hard and somewhat unfair to single one player. If we were to do that, though, it'd definitely be Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles haven't won a Premier League game since 2016 when the forward has been out of the lineup, so his return will be key to a good away day for the travelling London support. The Ivorian possesses electric pace, mesmeric skills and a decent shot which even the league's best sides struggle to deal with.
How Mathias Jorgensen and Terence Kongolo deal with the attacker will be key to the outcome of the game. Contain him, and Huddersfield will likely avoid defeat, allow him in, and it could be a long afternoon for the fans of the West Yorkshire club.
Huddersfield need to resurrect their fortress
There's a phrase in football, home form keeps you in the league, and away form wins you the league. Of course, Huddersfield won't be aiming to top the table come May, but survival in England's top tier is the ultimate aim. Everybody knows why, it boils down to money, and a lot of it, plus the prestige of remaining a Premier League club for 3 straight seasons and staving off "Second Season Syndrome" will be a huge achievement for David Wagner's men.
Town may have struggled against the top 6 home and away last season, but they did pick up a superb win against Manchester United at the John Smith's. 6 of their 9 victories in 2017-18 came on their own turf, and a game against a side like Crystal Palace is nothing short of a must-win, even after 4 league matches.
Prediction: Huddersfield 2-1 Crystal Palace
I'm going for a close game, but not necessarily a tight one between these two sides. The match will likely be a cagey one in the opening stages, as neither will want to concede the opening goal. With Zaha in the side, Palace will probably score, even against a stubborn Terriers defence. Huddersfield need a first win on the board, especially at home where the Town faithful can roar their side onto victory. Reach too far, or get frustrated, however, and that lightning counter-attack could easily catch Wagner's men out.
How do you think the match will go? Let us know in the comments below!