The relegation battle in this season’s Premier League has the potential to give Broadway and the West End a run for its collective money. With no theatre left in the race for the title, the tussle for Champions League places will pique the interest of some. But the struggle to survive and the teams involved promises a litany of plot twists.
It is no stretch to consider all sides in the bottom half of the table are in contention for the drop. An argument could be made for some of those skulking around the foothills of the top half of the table being drawn in. For Huddersfield Town, though, the threat is very real.
The Terriers’ campaign run-in isn’t one the side will want to consider just yet. Chelsea and Manchester City at home and Everton and Arsenal away are the club’s last four matches. If David Wagner is to maintain his side’s top-flight setting, there are a triumvirate of players he will be sure to lean on to help secure that.
25-year-old Smith is more than a fullback with a penchant for attacking forays. The club captain illustrates the reliability and commitment required to succeed. Having worked his way up through Man City’s youth structure, he could not convince the likes of Mark Hughes and Roberto Mancini that he was first team material.
Instead of allowing this to suppress his ambition, Smith and City agreed to terminate his contract. It turned out to be Huddersfield’s gain. Since making his league debut for the side in November 2013 in a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday, Smith has been integral to the club.
With the Premier League betting indicating Huddersfield are supposedly doomed to relegation, the 4/7 odds-on favourites for the drop will be leaning on Smith. Not just for his leadership and footballing abilities, but also his tenacity and single-mindedness. Attributes the collective must adopt if they are to avoid spending next season back in the Championship.
Rajiv van La Parra
Dutch winger van La Parra, brother of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, scored an adroit first-half winner for Huddersfield in a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion in early November. 25 yards from Ben Foster’s goal, he curled a dexterous shot from the left-hand side of the box to leave Foster with no chance of protecting his goal.
It was a moment of magic. A player with innate dribbling ability and a clear penchant for moments of brilliance, the former Wolves attacker will need to produce regularly and with style. A big ask, but van La Parra has the potential to provide moments of magic that could, in turn, provide some much-needed relief.
Having struggled to make an impact at Bolton Wanderers and St. Mirren, 27-year-old Mooy seemed destined to settle back home in Australia with Western Sydney Wanderers. After joining Melbourne City, an opportunity to return to England arose.
When he joined Manchester City in 2016, he almost immediately joined Huddersfield on loan; the move becoming permanent this season when a fee in the region of £8 million was paid for his services to City.
The reason for a club record fee was simple. Mooy was an intrinsic part of Huddersfield’s promotion last season. A stylish playmaker with a sharp footballing brain, he was instrumental in creating pockets of opportunity for the side.
France, Peru and Denmark await for Mooy and his Australian teammates in this summer’s World Cup. Before he has the opportunity to turn heads globally, a lot of the creative need for Huddersfield will be sought from Mooy. If he can deliver, it may well have a significant impact on his sides fate.