Everton v Huddersfield Town. The Everton Forum preview
What a strange week this has been to support Everton.
From the 4-1 spanking we took away at Southampton on Sunday, to the slow-motion appointment of Sam Allardyce, to the jubilation of Wednesday’s 4-0 victory against West Ham.
We often joke that being Evertonians we should expect the unexpected but even for us, this week’s been something. I mean, who saw us appointing Allardyce 3 months ago?
But anyway, regardless of what we think of what’s gone on, I’m sat here, looking forward to an Everton football match for the first time in a while. It’s amazing what a good win can do!
Our visitors for Saturday’s 3pm kick off are 14th placed Huddersfield Town.
The terriers make the trip to L4 having been on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline on Wednesday at the Emirates and boast the unwanted record of lowest scorers in the Premier League (9 in 14 games).
I watched the highlights of the Arsenal match and whilst the gunners were clearly worthy winners in the end, Huddersfield did have two or three good attacking moments in first half periods when Arsenal, buoyed by a very early goal, appeared to take their foot off the gas.
Had they the quality to take a couple of the chances offered to them, particularly one that fell to their forward Quaner, a 5-0 result could’ve been very different.
In the match prior to Arsenal, Huddersfield gave an excellent account of themselves against the likely 17/18 Premier League champions Manchester City.
To a man they were excellent and spurred on by their home crowd, they pushed City close with the Manchester side requiring a fortunate bounce in the last ten minutes to secure them the victory.
As impressed as I was with the effort Huddersfield put in last Sunday, I can’t really mention that match without stressing it was at home where Huddersfield are a very different prospect – winning 11 of their 15 points to date on their own patch (including a very impressive victory against Manchester United).
Away from home, since their impressive opening day 0-3 romp against Crystal Palace, the Yorkshire side are yet to even score on their travels (6 games).
During those 6 away games without scoring, they’ve conceded 16 and managed 1 further point, courtesy of a 0-0 against Burnley in September.
In terms of a playing system, I think it’s likely we’ll see Town boss David Wagner go with a back 4 at Goodison following the result at Arsenal when he dabbled with a back 5. If he does, we’ll likely see a variant of the typical 4-2-3-1 system a lot of teams use these days.
In the Huddersfield goal will be Lossl, with a likely back 4 of Malone, Schindler, Jorgensen and Smith.
Moving into midfield, Danny Williams could be partnered with Jonathan Hogg and in front of them I’d imagine it’ll be Ince, Kachunga and Mooy with a lone front man – Mounie or Depoitre.
If I were to pick 1 out, I’d say the best Huddersfield town player is Aaron Mooy. The Australian has nice ability on the ball, good set plays and has shone whenever I’ve seen Huddersfield this season. He’ll look to provide Huddersfield with the element of control and vision whilst the 2 in midfield with him provide the tenacity and the athleticism.
Huddersfield will look to pace on the wings, probably targeting our full backs – particularly our left where we’ll have no natural left back. Once they get it into crossing areas, the ball will be delivered to the target man in the hope he can make things happen or win set plays – from which their defenders will be a threat.
Whilst you wouldn’t say any of the Huddersfield players are household names with the possible exceptions of Mooy and Ince and they clearly travel poorly, this team shouldn’t be underestimated and are currently on course to fulfil their survival objective.
I know it’s cliche for a promoted side but the team ethic is very strong with them so they will work exceptionally hard and look to ruffle Everton feathers. Whether they can do that 3 times in a week, after 2 exceptionally tough games against 2 of the best possession sides in the league, remains to be seen.
They will try to remain solid throughout the game and if you offered it, I’m sure they’d be happy to keep their clean sheet and see if they could grab a moment late in the game.
The glaring issue with Huddersfield this season however will be scoring goals. I know I mentioned Southampton were shot-shy a week ago and it came back to bite but Huddersfield are the lowest scorers in the league, who haven’t scored away since August.
After the week they’ve had, can they change that on Saturday? I have my doubts, but obviously, this is Everton…
That West Ham win felt massive.
I didn’t think the performance was perfect, I didn’t think we were worthy of 4-0 scoreline, I even thought we had our slices of luck, but there were so many positives in there and ultimately I was just made up to get the 3 points.
Wayne Rooney was sublime. We kept a clean sheet. We scored first. Jonjoe Kenny and Aaron Lennon down the right appear to be blossoming. Gylfi Sigurdsson seems to be finding his feet and Jordan Pickford once again showed his class.
All in all, it was a great send-off for David Unsworth.
I’ve got to say, even though I wasn’t shy of criticising certain decisions he made, I have some sympathy for Unsy. He took the job when we were in a dreadful run of form, not knowing how long for and just got on with it. I think the players let him down when it mattered and sadly, I think it took a new manager watching on from the stands to really get them going on Wednesday.
It might have been different if the board had been decisive in appointing Unsworth full-time, however, his little stint just felt like the players were akin to schoolkids when they’re under a substitute teacher, constantly knowing they can get away with it until the proper boss comes in.
That ‘proper’ boss was selected as Sam Allardyce.
Listen, I could go on about him and his past and who he’s bought with him, but frankly, he’s here now. I’m not going to get on-board with the ‘Állardyce out’ crowd before he’s even had a week with the squad.
He wouldn’t have been my choice to replace Ronald Koeman but he’s part of the club now and it’s the club I support, so he’ll get my full backing until I feel he’s had a fair crack of the whip. It might not seem likely, but maybe he’ll do something we didn’t expect, maybe he’ll be what we need. Stranger things have happened.
I watched his first press conference today and I thought he handled it fairly well, he seemed relaxed and was open in saying what he thought with no romanticism and nothing cold. He said we’d underachieved and it’s up to him to put it right and get us towards where we should be then beyond.
Allardyce praised the West Ham performance and made it clear that’s set the bar which now needs to be achieved every match starting on Saturday. So with that in mind, combined with his lack of time with the team since then, I think we’ll see a very similar starting 11 on Saturday.
The two selection questions are, does Michael Keane return and equally, does Oumar Niasse?
In my opinion they both should, however I wouldn’t be surprised in the case of the centre backs if Allardyce replaces the wrong one. In my opinion, the better of the two defenders on Wednesday was Mason Holgate.
Ashley Williams scored but gave away a silly penalty and with our next match at Anfield, I think the way to go is to continue with Holgate due to his pace to help try and deal with Liverpool.
My worry however, is from afar Allardyce might see the experience of the ‘Swansea and Wales Ashley Williams’ on top of his goal on Wednesday and think he’s the obvious choice alongside Keane. I really hope he doesn’t.
In the case of prince Oumar, I feel he should start ahead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
While it may be harsh on young Dominic who was much-improved on Wednesday, I don’t think Niasse’s goalscoring record along with his strong form prior to his ridiculous suspension should be ignored.
The rest would remain unchanged for me, meaning the likes of Schneiderlin, Mirallas and Lookman and Sandro all remain on the bench among others.
So my predicted team for this one is –
In the case of Wednesday’s hero, Wayne Rooney, it’ll be interesting to see if he can recapture something anywhere near that level twice in a week.
Rooney has often tried to play that way for us this season, attempting to drag us through games single-handedly, and I personally think, whilst taking absolutely nothing away from his marvellous performance, the fact he was sparingly used prior to that match allowed his body to perform to that level.
Still, I think it’s in absolutely no doubt Wayne Rooney will be the first name on Allardyce’s team sheet on Saturday.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes about Everton’s performance on Saturday. Have they done their playing to impress and they’re going to go back to being woeful again, or are they going to back it up with another strong performance?
We’ll have to wait and see, but personally, I think this is a great match for us and a good chance to gain a bit of confidence ahead of the dreaded trip to Anfield.
Prediction: Everton 2 – 0 Huddersfield
The referee for this one is Chris Kavanagh. Not many Premier League games for this fella, however he has reffed Huddersfield already this season (0-0 at Burnley) and at Goodison for last season’s 4-0 EFL Trophy win over Yeovil.
3 more points please lads and let’s start looking up.
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