Another week, another milestone in our Premier League dream turned reality. This week, we welcome the world football juggernaut and Glazer family cash cow, Manchester United.
Yes, that’s right, we will be seeing Jose Mourinho aka ‘The Special One’ or the grumpy one as he seems to be nowadays in his post-match interviews on the touchline in battle with our boy, David Wagner.
Like the Spurs game, this will be seen as a free hit by the majority of us but at least if we are to lose, I hope we don’t give our goals away so cheaply (bar the Kane wonder strike) on Saturday.
Wagner will be hoping for a big response from his players this week. The inept performance against fellow strugglers Swansea highlighted our failure to show the requisite bravery, determination or basic skill-sets in attack and defence.
At the back, we gave away one complete gift of a goal due to idiotic carelessness and the other through another well-timed tackle that inadvertently put the opposition player clean through on goal.
Our set-piece delivery continues in its current form of inertia and if it persists on Saturday, there will only be so much faith Wagner can show in certain players.
Unlike in the Championship, we now have two strikers who are both excellent headers of the ball and for them to get such dismal service is not acceptable at this level.
However, we are only nine games in and this dip in form must not trigger a stereotypical town-fan meltdown of nihilistic and self-defeating relegation prophecy. We are not Manchester City. We are not going to win every game 6-0 or 7-2 and we will go through periods of poor form multiple times this season.
Wagner has proven himself to have the managerial ability to turn it around and the players have shown the required character and resilience to come out the other side of these dips better for it.
The pace of the Premier League is unrelenting. There was inevitably going to be a period of adjustment for the players to realise just how ruthless even struggling teams are when given easy chances.
It is up to them to respond now. Even a glorious defeat would raise the spirits around the terraces and give the squad some added belief going to Anfield next week.
Luckily, several Manchester United players will be unavailable for this game, which might make the scoreline less brutal on us.
The likes of Marouane Felliani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rojo and Paul Pogba will all be absent from the starting line-up.
However the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku will all be fit so when you think about it, it’s a bit of a moot point in the grand scheme of things.
Hopefully the lessons learned against Spurs and Swansea will put the players in good stead on Saturday. Make the same mistakes again and more serious questions might have to be asked about the suitability of some in the team to make the required step up.
Chris Schindler vs Romelu Lukaku
The battles for Chris Schindler don’t get any easier on a weekly basis. This week, his job will be to mark the £90m frontman signed from Everton, Romelu Lukaku.
Despite his critics pointing to his ruthlessness against the so-called ‘lesser’ teams and a profligacy against the ‘top 6’, Lukaku is still a fearsome striker whose pace, power and brute strength can be a match for any defence in the Premier League and abroad.
Schindler will have to bring out his nasty side to get the better of Lukaku and he’ll probably have a few bruises on Sunday morning if he’s to stop Lukaku scoring.
Zanka vs Marcus Rashford
The teenage wonderkid will have to face off against our own charismatic stalwart on Saturday in Zanka.
Zanka’s pace will probably ensure that he is chosen to marshal the local boy done good but that is easier said than done.
Whilst question marks still hang over Rashford’s end-product, people often forget he is still younger than most of his critics’ sons.
Aaron Mooy vs Ander Herrera
The Swansea game showed more starkly than perhaps any other game how much we missed Aaron Mooy’s presence on the park.
The Billing-Hogg partnership looked worryingly limited from a creative perspective and if we are to win games, we need to 1) score and 2) create chances.
Mooy is the fulcrum of our team and must play on Saturday if we are to have any chance of getting a result.
Against him will be the diminutive Spaniard, Ander Herrera who under Mourinho is finally living up to the promise and form he showed when at Athletic Bilbao.
Steve Mounie vs Phil Jones
With Town in search of a much-needed boost, that could well come in the shape of Town’s record signing Steve Mounie.
The 22-year-old played a pivotal role in Town’s early season success and despite Laurent Depoitre’s excellence, David Wagner may turn to the 22-year-old to provide Town with the firepower that they have been sorely lacking.
Mounie’s most likely opponent, however, will be Phil Jones. The England international has looked rejuvunated under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage and as part of an excellent defensive unit, he will be striving for another clean sheet.
For Town to have any hope of picking up a result against this Manchester United side, Steve Mounie will need to put in a match-winning performance.
Stats to look out for
- Huddersfield and Manchester United are meeting for the first time since United won 2-0 at Old Trafford in the old Division One in March 1972. George Best scored for United that day.
- United are unbeaten in their last 10 top flight matches against the Terriers (W7, D3).
- Huddersfield are without a win against United since a 2-0 top-flight victory in March 1952, a month after Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.
- A Manchester United win would see them set a new club record of 23 points after nine Premier League games.
- United have started this season with seven clean sheets in eight league games. No side in top-flight history has kept eight clean sheets in their first nine matches.
- They have recorded a league-high 18 clean sheets in the league since the turn of the year.
- Manchester United have 899 away points in the Premier League, and can become the first club to reach the 900-mark.
Once again, a boring game is something that will not be in the commentator’s summaries come 5pm on Saturday but whether it’s a 4-0 defeat or a 1-1 draw will come down to the character of the squad, adding quality we have previously lacked and a whole load of luck.