Thursday, 15 October 2009

Huddersfield Town Preview

A week is a long time in football so they say, although this one seems to have whizzed by with another home match just around the corner. I had these two successive home games pencilled in for six points following a difficult run of games, but Oldham had other ideas last week. Will Huddersfield add further to the malaise?

Lee Clark has received a lot of plaudits for the way he has got his side playing, but their away form leaves a lot to be desired. One win in six games tells its own story. Their tails will up though, having beaten Exeter City 4-0 last weekend, with Jordan Rhodes claiming a hat-trick. Although with that said, Oldham were also on a decent run of form when they came to The Valley, yet they still defended within an inch of their lives for a point.

Evidence would seem to suggest that we are in a for a similar game against the team who changed places with the Latics in the league table last weekend. It was interesting to read in Nelson’s match preview that Huddersfield went to Colchester with five in defence in search of a point which they almost got. This hardly seems the ambitious approach of a team seeking promotion, but then again perhaps the percentages game Lee Clark is playing will ultimately play dividends.

So what to expect from Phil Parkinson? Following last weekend’s performance the temptation is there to make some fairly significant changes (something his predecessor would have been panicked into doing perhaps), although I expect Parky to resist the urge to do so at this point. There are some alterations he may like to consider however and I expect to see a different team to that which took the field last weekend.

At the back, I would imagine Miguel Angel Llera will probably make way for the returning Sam Sodje. Whilst Angel’s attacking qualities are superior to those of Sodje, his defending qualities are not, and for all the talk of Huddersfield coming to defend, they are also the league’s second highest scorers and know how to find the back of the net. Llera had a solid, if not spectacular, game against Oldham so may feel aggrieved to lose his place, but I still feel a bit nervous when the ball gets thrust in his direction so would be surprised if he was included at Sodje’s expense.

In midfield, Jose Semedo should be ready to return to action and, providing he is fit, I expect him to replace Matt Spring. Whilst Spring has been an adequate deputy, Semedo looks more assured at protecting the back four and controlling the tempo of the game. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our form has dipped somewhat during his absence and I expect Therry Racon will also be happy to have him back in midfield to work alongside. It’s hard luck on Spring but his chance should come again.

So what about up front? This would be the most obvious area of change given our lack of recent goals, but be that as it may, I can’t see Parkinson making any alteration to the combination of Deon Burton and Jonjo Shelvey. They both had pretty poor games last weekend, although Oldham made it hard for them to get into it. The options for change are a) drop Shelvey and replace him with a more orthodox striker or b) drop Burton and give McKenzie a go as the lone striker.

The problem with option a), as I mentioned earlier in the week, is that I don’t think we have an adequate strike partner for Burton. Perhaps it’s being harsh, but on Saturday’s evidence Izale McLeod isn’t up to it whilst Chris Dickson and Stuart Fleetwood are off elsewhere for now. Speculation regarding the arrival of Tresor Kandol is welcome. As for option b), I don’t think McKenzie is fit enough yet for anything more than a substitute’s appearance, whilst Burton doesn’t deserve to get dropped.

Even if he doesn’t change the starting personnel, I hope Parkinson can use the bench to better effect. If the game scenario is similar to that of last week, I would imagine he will change things around a bit earlier to try and up the tempo as we saw against Oldham. McKenzie should make another appearance based on last weekend’s evidence, whilst Tamer Tuna might feel like he deserves to stretch his legs after a decent outing against Barnet in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Finally, as Parkinson alluded to in his interview on the official website today, it’s not a great idea to start with semi-fit players, even if they would normally be in your first XI. Lloyd Sam and Frazer Richardson looked off the pace last weekend, and in hindsight Parkinson probably would have given them another week to recover. Hopefully they will be good to go on Saturday. So here is what I am expecting:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton.

Substitutes: Randolph, Llera Basey, Wagstaff, McKenzie, Tuna, McLeod.

Anyway, I hope we can take the game to the opposition from the off, regardless of how Huddersfield set themselves up to play. Parkinson is being rightly tight-lipped about the team he is going to put out and the way they are going to play, but hopefully ‘the good week of training’ he mentioned will help to yield all three points. You just know it will be another tense afternoon at The Valley though. See you there.

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