Jonathan Hogg

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6 days to go until new PL season: Modern number 6 is flourishing in Premier League

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We are officially inside the final week of preparations for the new Premier League season, with just six days to go until the opening match of the new 2019/20 campaign.

With 6 days standing in the way of now and the new season, we take a look at how the Premier League has led the charge for the meteoric rise of the modern number 6 and is experiencing a golden age for the defensive midfielder. To make the argument that the current iteration of the defensive midfielder is the most important position in modern football, one simply has to look at the makeup of the Premier League over the last five years.

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Just this summer, in fact, Manchester City – the defending league champions – broke its club transfer record bringing in a new defensive midfielder in Rodri. With 34-year-old Fernandinho‘s occasional absence last season exposing the two-time Premier League champions, Pep Guardiola identified a position of need and filled it with a bang.

After Fernandinho made his way to the Premier League with his title-winning physicality and passing precision, N’Golo Kante engineered one of the most spectacular underdog stories of this generation, leading Leicester City to the title. One season later, he was shipped off to Chelsea and promptly saw the Blues to the top of the table, winning consecutive Premier League titles with two different teams.

Prior to Kante, Nemanja Matic helped Chelsea to the 2014/15 Premier League title, arriving from Benfica to patrol the Blues midfield and log over 3,000 league minutes in a season to remember.

As top-end Premier League teams look to play out from the back, the defensive midfielder is a critical component of the new style of domination football, but there’s more to it than that. The best defensive midfielders in the world possess an inate sense of the field that allows them to cover passing lanes and grab interceptions, turning possession back over to teams that want to possess the ball.

Taking a peek at the interception leaders in the Premier League last season, the top of the list is dominated by teams dominated in possession which gives them far more opportunities to cut out passes. Still, it proves teams up and down the table have begun employing a modern two-way defensive midfielder to cover the back line, with Watford’s Etienne Capoue leading the charge at a wonderful 2.6 interceptions per 90 minutes, followed by Huddersfield Town’s Jonathan Hogg and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye among the league leaders. Leicester City’s Wilfried Ndidi and Wolverhampton’s Ruben Neves both appear near the top, fitting as they both proved leaders of form for their clubs last season – where they go, the team goes. Lucas Torreira was a heralded signing at Arsenal and quickly proved he could help cover a struggling defensive side. Luka Milivojevic has become a vital part of Roy Hodgson‘s structure at Crystal Palace.

Aside from Pep Guardiola’s use of Rodri and Fernandinho at Manchester City as the club looks to transition from older to younger, one of the most interesting league storylines for the coming year is how Frank Lampard looks to make use of Kante one season removed from a change of scenery. Kantee took significant time to adjust after Maurizio Sarri yanked him from his best position and moved him higher up the pitch, with Jorginho slotted into the role. In the end Sarri was out after just one season and Lampard is left to pick up the pieces. A formerChelsea midfielder himself, Lampard has kept his cards close to his chest and Kante has seen zero playing time this preseason due to injury. Will the French international return to his favored defensive midfield role, or will Lampard continue Jorginho in that role as Sarri did to mixed success?

The new season is nearly upon us, and the modern game is very much alive in the growth, expansion, and dominance of the number 6.

Huddersfield Town beats Wolves in stoppage time

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  • Mounie strikes in stoppage
  • Pritchard lively for hosts
  • Wolves fail to put shot on target

Steve Mounie‘s stoppage time goal gave Huddersfield Town’s home crowd reason to sing following a 1-0 defeat of sleepy Wolves on Tuesday at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Last place Huddersfield moves onto 14 points, while Wolves whiff on a prime chance to put pressure on Watford in the race for 7th. Both Wolves and Watford have 40 points.

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There wasn’t much to write home about in the first half hour save a Willy Boly injury and a missed chance from Wolves’ Matt Doherty.

Honestly, Huddersfield deserved to hold a lead against a Wolves side unable to rise to the day.

Youngster Karlan Grant was bright for the Terriers, and Jonathan Hogg missed with a 68th minute header of Grant’s cross.

Huddersfield got its deserved winner through Mounie in stoppage time.

Grant was involved, mishitting a pass from Aaron Mooy that fell to Mounie for the marker.

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Huddersfield’s Mooy, Liverpool’s Matip out injured

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A huge blow has arrived for Huddersfield Town, as Aaron Mooy has been ruled out until February with a serious knee injury.

The Terriers have announced that Mooy “suffered a tear to the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) in his right knee” in the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday.

Mooy, 28, will miss the 2019 Asian Cup for Australia and Huddersfield’s top goalscorer this season will miss at least their next eight Premier League games. That run includes massive clashes with fellow PL strugglers Newcastle, Southampton, Fulham, Burnley and Cardiff, as Mooy would have lively been the difference for Huddersfield in those game.s

“I’m gutted to be missing an important time for club and country,” Mooy said. “We’ve got a lot of fixtures over the Christmas period at Huddersfield Town, but I back the team to continue our good performances and get the results that we’re targeting. I’m also sad that this injury will rule me out of the Asian Cup. I’d like to wish the Socceroos all the best as they head to the UAE; I’ll be supporting them from afar. The hard work on my recovery has already started and I’m looking forward to being back out on the pitch.”

What does this mean for Huddersfield?

With a pivotal run of games coming up for David Wagner‘s side, Mooy’s absence at the heart of their midfield will be felt. Danny Williams has just returned to full fitness so he should play alongside Jonathan Hogg (struggling with a knock) and Phillip Billing in Mooy’s absence. Wagner also has issues with Terrence Kongolo and right back Tommy Smith, as the latter will be out until January with a hamstring strain.

At this time of the season injuries are starting to mount up for every single Premier League, and Liverpool know all about that.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men will now be without center back Joel Matip until the end of January as he fractured his collarbone in the crucial win against Napoli at Anfield as Liverpool secured their spot in the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

The towering defender, 27, played throughout the game but landed awkwardly when winning a header late on. He went to hospital after the game and it quickly became clear that the issue was a lot more serious then previously thought. Matip will now undergo surgery to repair the damage.

Matip joins Joe Gomez on the sidelines, as the latter fractured a bone in his left leg last week and will be out until February.

With Trent Alexander-Arnold also going off injured during the victory against Napoli, plus Dejan Lovren struggling with injuries all season, the only fully-fit center back Klopp currently has is Virgil Van Dijk. Fabinho could play there at a push, but Klopp is now relying on Lovren to regain his fitness quickly to step in with both Matip and Gomez out.

Huddersfield 1-1 West Ham: Terriers struggle to finish chances

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Alex Pritchard gave the home side hope as Huddersfield Town scored just six minutes into the match, but they failed to capitalize on a multitude of chances the rest of the way, and Felipe Anderson equalized for West Ham to earn each side a point.

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The start to the match was electric, and Huddersfield had the better of the run. They nearly scored inside two minutes as Steve Mounie nearly powered a header inside the bottom of the crossbar off a corner, but Lukasz Fabianski was there to make a fabulous save, tipping the ball off the woodwork and out.

The hosts would not be dismayed, however, and would open the scoring six minutes in. After the Hammers coughed up the ball in their own defensive third, Pritchard and Jonathan Hogg combined for a messy buildup and Pritchard caught Fabianski off guard with a low shot tucked inside the bottom-right corner.

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Huddersfield almost grabbed a stunning second when Mounie whipped in a cross from the left flank and it very nearly went into the back of the net over a leaping Fabianski, but it thumped the inside of the post and pinged back out as goal-line technology never indicated a score.

Again, West Ham cheaply gave the ball away in the defensive third on 26 minutes, and it gave Fabianski more work to do as Mounie broke through but was stopped by the Hammers goalkeeper one-on-one.

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The Hammers got their first true opportunity just past the hour mark as Robert Snodrass flicked a corner off his head and just inches wide of the far post, a quality re-direct that just missed by a fraction. That was the start of a West Ham flurry that would see them eventually equalize. Substitute Michail Antonio whipped a good chance just over the bar on 72 minutes, and then Felipe Anderson was the man to pull the Hammers back level two minutes later.

Snodgrass made a run down the left edge of the box and just reached the ball before it met the byline. His cross went over the net and fell to Marko Arnautovic in acres of space, but he whiffed. Javier Hernandez pounced and shot but a charging Jonas Lossl smothered that chance. The ball still trickled away, and after Antonio’s turn-and-shoot was blocked by one of the nine defenders now panicking in the box, it fell to Anderson who finally buried the ball into the back of the net with a high shot into the top-right corner.

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It’s Anderson’s third Premier League goal in his last two matches, after a brace in last week’s 4-2 win over Burnley. Huddersfield hoped to go back in front, but substitute Erik Durm pulled a powerful shot just wide with nine minutes remaining. The Terriers continued to pummel Joe Hart‘s net as stoppage time arrived, but couldn’t find a winner. Substitute Laurent Depoitre just couldn’t reach of a dangerous cross from Terence Kongolo in the 93rd minute as the final whistle came.

With the match finishing level, Huddersfield will be disappointed not to secure all three points, remaining in the relegation zone with seven total points. West Ham remains in 13th with a 12-point haul thus far.

Salah helps off-kilter Liverpool snap skid

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  • Terriers outshoot Reds 12-11
  • Liverpool moves second
  • Terriers 19th with three points

Xherdan Shaqiri set up Mohamed Salah for the match’s lone goal as Liverpool beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

The Reds stay level on points with leaders Man City, while Huddersfield Town is ahead of only Newcastle United on the table.

Liverpool was winless in its last four matches, with draws against Man City and Chelsea and losses to Napoli and Chelsea.

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A sleepy match snapped to life off the boot of Salah, who scored a trademark goal by dragging a shot across goal and inside the far post.

Joe Gomez picked out Xherdan Shaqiri, who played Salah down the right side for a finish beyond the reach of Jonas Lossl.

And that got Huddersfield moving, and the match moved up-and-down the pitch in fitting David Wagner vs. Jurgen Klopp fashion.

Jonathan Hogg hit the bar with a shot, and Phillip Billing nearly whipped a deep free kick on target, though Alisson Becker may’ve had his post covered well anyway.

Michael Oliver somehow resisted shouts for a seemingly clear handball on James Milner.

The first half stated without much danger, but Laurent Depoitre headed a ball for Alisson to save in the 55th.

The Terriers were actually pretty wasteful, with Steve Mounie missing a point blank chance in the 82nd.

Salah forced a save out of Lossl following a slick turn two minutes from time.

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