Season Preview: Can Wagner’s Huddersfield Town defend its way to safety?

Leave a comment

Premier League titles: 0 (Three top tier titles from 1923-26)

FA Cups: 1 (1922)

League Cups: 0

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]


Top Three after three match days and when the calendar hit 2018, Huddersfield Town’s first season in the Premier League took a dramatic downturn the rest of the way. The Terriers’ 16th place finish was just four points clear of the drop zone, and Town’s minus-30 goal differential was worse than all but one team in top flight (Stoke City).

There were bright spots for German-American manager David Wagner, though, and he’s bringing all of them back including outstanding goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. He’ll have to find more goals, though, as Town’s 28-goal season was the joint-worst in the Premier League (Swansea City). What’s worse? Eleven of those 28 goals came in three matches, and there is no real significant transfer yet to expect a major growth in output.


Huddersfield Town will finish top-half because… Consistency and familiarity from its defenders and goalkeeper, now full-time members of Town, allow the group to Burnley its way up the table. Erik Durm and Juninho Bacuna will have to be big hits

Huddersfield Town will be relegated because… The goals don’t come, and the reliance on too few difference makers in the midfield wears down its corps. Opening with Chelsea and Man City sink the Terriers after two weeks, and three Top Four contenders in its final five matches hamper their chances to finish strong.

Best possible XI:

Lossl

Hadergjonaj — Schindler — Kongolo — Jorgensen — Durm

Hogg — Mooy — Williams

Pritchard — Mounie

Transfers In: Terrence Kongolo ($22 million, Monaco), Adama Diakhaby ($11 million, Monaco), Ramadan Sobhi ($7 million, Stoke City), Florent Hadergjonaj ($6 million, Ingolstadt), Jonas Lossl ($3 million, Mainz), Ben Hamer (free, Leicester City), Juninho Bacuna ($3 million, Groningen), Erik Durm (free, Borussia Dortmund)

Transfers Out: Tom Ince ($12.5 million, Stoke City), Rob Green (free, Chelsea).

Ranking their offseason: B+

Town was fortunate to survive the drop last season by any number of metrics, and aren’t taking too many risks in addressing their holes. Kongolo and Lossl were two of their best players last season, and making loans permanent was a necessary move. Versatile Erik Durm is a World Cup winner who could prove to be an all-timer of a move. Two interesting  bets come in the form of Bacuna, Diakhaby and Sobhi, who could succeed with more consistent roles than they had in their past clubs.

Star player: Aaron Mooy — The baldheaded midfielder has risen with a rocket since signing with Manchester City a few years ago, and his four-goal, three-assist campaign saw Town go 5W-1L in matches he registered a goal or assist.

Coach’s Corner: Wagner won the UEFA Cup as a player with Schalke before scrapping his way through to promotion with Town. He’s liked by his players and adept at tactics. The questions are whether he’s added enough players to compete should no more help arrived by Thursday’s transfer deadline.

PST Predicts: Another season of ups and downs which sees Town mostly struggling to stay above the drop zone.

Everton’s Calvert-Lewin opens scoring with overhead kick (video)

Overhead kick
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a spectacular goal, and Arsenal’s chaotic defending gave him a big assist.

The Everton man had the Toffees up 1-0 inside of the first minute when he hammered an overhead kick past Bernd Leno.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Calvert-Lewin was first to react when David Luiz could only pop a swirling Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick high into the air.

The forward’s foot flew past Luiz’s mane — it withstood VAR review — after the Gunners looked confused by Sead Kolasinac following his mark into the 18.

The goal is Calvert-Lewin’s 12th of the PL season. He’s scored four in his last five league outings, and 10 in his last 12.

He has seven goals in nine matches under Carlo Ancelotti.

Wolves’ red-hot Jota too much for Norwich City

Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Diogo Jota scored twice and helped produce the third goal of Wolves 3-0 battering of Norwich City at the Molineux Stadium on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Mexican star Raul Jimenez scored the other goal for Wolves.

Wolves rise eighth with 39 points, five points off fourth and two back of fifth-place Manchester United.

Norwich City remains seven points back of 17th place with a league-worst goal differential sinking to minus-27.


Three things we learned

1. Red-hot JotaWolves’ 23-year-old attacker was coming off a hat trick versus Espanyol in Europa League play, and had two goals by the half-hour mark at the Molineux. That gives him five PL goals amongst his 14 in all competitions as Wolves threaten both the Europa League and, somehow, remain alive in the top four race.

2. Abject Norwich defending: Daniel Farke‘s men have been praised for continuing their forward-thinking, attack-minded football in the Premier League, but maybe they simply didn’t have the protectors to bunker down in front of Tim Krul. That’s a bit unfair, because it’s admirable that Farke wishes to entertain, but there’s no debating the mess that is the Canaries defense this year.

3. Jimenez is Mexico’s best: Club Leon’s coach made headlines this week when he called LAFC’s Carlos Vela the best Mexican player, and perhaps he’s No. 2, but there’s no North American in the world doing what Raul is doing in Europe. Jimenez went over 3,300 season minutes on Sunday, adding another goal to give him 22 with 10 assists. Only Rui Patricio, Conor Coady, and Joao Moutinho have played more than the El Tri star.

Man of the Match: Jota


Norwich City had two promising moments in the first seven minutes, as Max Aarons hit a terrific through ball that died with a Teemu Pukki extra touch. Then Pukki forced Rui Patricio into a save.

Kenny McLean cranked a shot to Patricio off a Puuki pass in the 11th minute.

A Norwich giveaway allowed Diogo Jota to dance into the 18, but he instead dribbled himself out of room and was tackled.

Jota made amends in the 19th minute, lashing home after a terrific team goal.

It might’ve been 2-0 had Alex Tettey not darted between Jota’s 23rd-minute pass to Raul Jimenez.

Jota got his second in the 30th off a corner kick, as Romain Saiss slashed a pass across the six that any of three Wolves would’ve put in for a two-goal lead.

Tim Krul made a great save on a Ruben Neves free kick after Jota was injured drawing the set piece atop the 18.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Jota smashed the post moments before Jimenez deposited Wolves’ third goal of the game, a 3-0 lead arriving in the 50th minute.

Fernandes runs the show as Manchester United crushes Watford

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bruno Fernandes scored a goal and helped set up two as Manchester United beat Watford 3-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Anthony Martial recorded United’s second goal with a magical finish off his own rebound after Fernandes sent him through on goal, while Mason Greenwood added a late goal after a 1-2 with the Portuguese.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

United is now fifth with 41 points, three points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Watford had a goal chalked off by VAR, and remains in the bottom three with 24 points. That’s one point off 17th and two off 16th.


Three things we learned

1. Bruno as advertised: There was no question Fernandes addressed a need for the Old Trafford set, but few would’ve seen the Portuguese revolutionizing the team’s attack so quickly (and also underlining how badly United has missed Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba). It’s not silly to say Fernandes could’ve had four assists on the day. Magnificent stuff from the 25-year-old. No surprise he has Cristiano Ronaldo’s endorsement.

2. Greenwood shows another glimpse: The Mason Greenwood hype train hasn’t been as pronounced as Marcus Rashford’s of years past, and we’re grateful for that. But his shoulder move and sick cut before dribbling 50 yards to combine with Fernandes on the third goal of the game was gorgeous stuff. More hope for the future.

3. This: It’s easy to forget the heights of which somewhat-mercurial Anthony Martial is capable.

Man of the Match: Fernandes had four key passes and was perfect in his take-ons and ground duels. Incredible show.


Poor communication between Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic sprung Troy Deeney toward goal, but United left back Luke Shaw saved his teammates further blushes with a block.

Abdoulaye Doucoure then ran onto a dummied Gerard Deulofeu pass but found himself closed down by David De Gea.

United should’ve been up through Wan-Bissaka when Foster parried a cross onto his path, but the English back struck the ball tamely into the outside of the goal.

Bruno Fernandes led a terrific 38th-minute move, and Daniel James eventually teed up Fred for a shot that curled wide of the goal.

The January signing danced past Ben Foster and hit the deck when the Watford goalkeeper went to ground. VAR stayed with the call on the field, and Fernandes finished well with a little hop step.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Deeney looked to have made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute, thumping a. ball into the top of the goal when a corner kick was turned off the post by Craig Dawson‘s arm. It was attached to his body, but that does not matter in the attacking box.

Martial instead made it 2-0 off a Fernandes feed, collecting his own rebound before dribbling Watford dizzy and spinning a chip into the goal.

Fernandes spotted Maguire with a seeing-eye cross in the 69th, but the defender’s header was poor.

Greenwood scored his goal in the 75th, carrying the ball 50 yards before working a 1-2 with Fernandes and finishing with aplomb.

Odion Ighalo came close to getting on the board for his new club against his old one, but Adam Masina deflected his shot off the post.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Everton

Arsenal v. Everton watch live stream link
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Everton and Arsenal both look to stay in the top five discussion when they meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Carlo Ancelotti has Everton on 36 points, five back of fifth, while ex-Toffees midfielder Mikel Arteta has the Gunners on 34 points.

[ WATCH: Arsenal v. Everton ]

Andre Gomes returns to Everton’s bench after his gruesome injury earlier this Fall, and Ancelotti makes five changes to his Starting XI. Ex-Arsenal man Alex Iwobi will start for the Toffees.

Nicolas Pepe rejoins Arsenal’s Starting XI after a Thursday match in the Europa League.

LINEUPS

Arsenal

Everton