Erik Durm

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Premier League Preview: Huddersfield Town vs. Liverpool

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  • Huddersfield last beat Liverpool in 1959
  • Reds won both 3-0 last season
  • Liverpool winless in four across all comps
  • Reds also unbeaten on PL season

There are few endeavors in which the following sentence can accurately describe time: It’s been both a bit more than 675 minutes and also 56 years since Huddersfield Town last scored a goal against Liverpool.

The Terriers will try to change that, of course, when injury-hit Liverpool visits the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

The exhaustive web site LFChistory.net tells us that Huddersfield Town carried a 1-0 lead into halftime at Anfield on April 7, 1962, only to see Bill Shankly’s home side equalize and earn a draw.

Since then, the Terriers and Reds have squared off just seven times, and Liverpool has kept its sheets clean (aside from the dust of age). The scores over the ensuing half century-plus? 4-0, 0-0, 2-0, 0-1, 0-2, 3-0, and 3-0.

The good news for the Terriers is there have only been two of those matches in the 21st century, though they were both last season.

The other good news is that the international break was especially menacing to Liverpool, as Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane were all injured and only Salah and Van Dijk trained on Thursday.

The bad news is seemingly everything else. The Terriers have not looked much like the side that impressed in last season’s return to the Premier League.

David Wagner‘s men are winless through eight matches and have managed a joint-worst four goals while allowing the second-most goals in the Premier League (17).

What they’re saying

Huddersfield Town’s Erik Durm on Jurgen Klopp’s role in his development: “Jürgen had a big influence on me; he was the first one who told me to start in a defending position because I was a striker before. He came into training and told me ‘I want you to be a defender, left or right-back’, so he had a big influence on my career. I’m very happy that he made this solution and that he saw that I could play in this position.”

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp on rarely used, $57 million Fabinho“Everyone asks you constantly, why doesn’t he play? There’s one reason, no other. Another player fits better in the slot. As long as there’s a player ahead who is fresh then it’s about the new player to close the gap. It always took time. When you do close the gap, go and make us better. That’s the plan.”

Prediction

This one is way trickier than you’d think. On a normal “Welcome back from international break,” I’d advocate expecting Huddersfield Town to keep it close and maybe even squeeze a point out of it. But Liverpool has been itching to get back on the field, and a bunch of players will see this as an opportunity to make a statement. Reds 3-0 (again).

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

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

FA Cups: 1 (1922)

League Cups: 0

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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.