If you were to write a half term report about Huddersfield this season you would have to say, indifferent form at times but on the whole they have exceeded expectations. With the job of survival only half done they now kick off the second part of the campaign with the visit of Stoke this afternoon.
David Wagner’s men currently find themselves 11th in the Premier League far away from the maddening crowd of teams below them and to be fair to the Yorkshire outfit they have never really been mentioned in relegation circles this season.
They seem to be doing enough to keep their heads well above water and picking up points when it really matters, yes they may have lost to the majority of the ‘Big Six’ – the victory against Manchester United should obviously not be forgotten but those matches are ultimately not going to define whether they beat the drop this season.
It is the likes of games against such as Watford, Brighton and Southampton that are going to indicate whether they can stay clear of the bottom three and if you look on recent form you would have to say that they are more than capable of doing so.
They have managed to pick up seven points from a possible 12 on offer and that sees them six points clear of Bournemouth in 18th at present, a healthy buffer for Huddersfield as they can now begin to look up the table than opposed to over their shoulders.
Saturday saw them add to their points tally with a well earned draw against Southampton at St Mary’s. Laurent Depoitre’s fifth goal of the season meant that Huddersfield had come from behind to earn a share of the points in a game that was not without incident.
That being the fact that Jonas Lossl caught a boot in the face from Southampton’s Charlie Austin and a received a bloody nose for his efforts. The Saints forward may well have protested his innocence at the time but he would eventually be slapped with a three match ban.
Lossl was cleaned up and played the duration of the game and he will be expected to start once again this afternoon as Mark Hughes’ Stoke make the visit to the John Smith’s Stadium off the back of a much needed win on Saturday, one that alleviates the pressure on the former Wales boss.
In the week building up to the home tie with West Brom there were whispers as to whether or not Hughes was one game away from getting the sack as fan pressure has continued to mount as of late and although Stoke owner Peter Coates came out and gave the manager his full backing you did get the feeling that defeat could have well changed his mind.
That however is a moot point as Stoke not only bought themselves some distance between them and the bottom three but they also bought Hughes some more time in the Bet365 hot seat. They extended West Brom’s run without a win to 17 Premier League matches thanks to a 3-1 home win.
The performance was a stark contrast to that of a week previous when they were soundly beaten by West Ham 3-0 on their own turf, a defeat that only cranked up the heat on Mark Hughes’s job status even further but there was some plenty of Christmas cheer for the Potters as they piled more misery on the Baggies.
That win sees them move up to 14th in the Premier League, but like all the other teams in that lower table bracket it only takes a defeat to be thrown back into the relegation mix and with Stoke’s propensity to concede this season they are not out of the woods just yet.
They have conceded 40 goals this season the most in the Premier League and also more than two goals a game on average so that is something that will surely need to be rectified in this second half of the campaign or it could ultimately prove to be their Achilles heal.
Today though I think we will see Stoke come full of confidence after a win on Saturday while Huddersfield will fancy their chances of adding more points on the board. With that in mind I think this will end up being a draw with both teams having to make do with a share of the points.