Preview: Huddersfield Town

With the games continuing to come at a rate that is tiring even to follow as a fan, one can only imagine the impact the fixture list is having on the players. Fortunately, the hectic schedule hasn’t negatively impacted results for the Sky Blues – in fact, quite the opposite. This upcoming game against Huddersfield Town provides the opportunity to push on further into the warm embrace of mid-table.

There were more than a few strokes of fortune about Saturday’s win over Wycombe Wanderers but it underlined the gutsiness this team has been showing of late to grind out the win in testing circumstances. At some point, we are going to have to improve the quality of the football in order to continue accumulating points, but, in such a congested schedule, substance over style is far more important.

Possible Line-Up (4-3-3): Wilson; Dabo, McFadzean, Hyam, McCallum; Sheaf, Allen, Shipley; O'Hare, Giles, Bakayoko.
Possible Line-Up

Expected Line-Up

Fitness concerns could well dictate some radical changes to the starting line-up for this game. Liam Kelly’s absence from this side could well force a slight change of shape to account for the lack of security in front of the defence that the captain provides. In addition, there have been signs of fatigue over the past couple of games from Tyler Walker, Fankaty Dabo and Sam McCallum which could see at least one or two of those players rested for this game.

In addition, with this game the final cut-off point for suspensions for picking up five yellow cards, Mark Robins may look to avoid Leo Ostigard, Gustavo Hamer and Ben Sheaf picking up a booking in this game that would keep them out of a more winnable match against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend. While the manager might ordinarily take the risk, with the squad so thin at the moment as a result of injuries, we can’t really afford to add to that list of absentees if we can afford to.

Just who can come into the side in place of the players we might want to keep out of the firing line is a big question. I would imagine that Ryan Giles, Jamie Allen and Amadou Bakayoko have a strong chance of starting this game. Beyond those three players, there aren’t really any further options for changes. Unless we start bringing in players such as Wesley Jobello, Julien Dacosta and Marcel Hilssner who are recovering from injuries, we are going to have to take risks with players we might otherwise want to hand a rest to.

Last Time We Met

Coventry City and Huddersfield Town have spent much of the past half a century avoiding playing each other. Huddersfield were in the lower leagues for much of our 34-year stay in the top-flight, while the Terriers’ recent rise to the upper echelons of the English league system came after we were relegated from the Championship in 2012. The two clubs have even been largely kept apart from each other in cup competitions, having been drawn together just twice in the 149 year history of cup football in England.

The most recent game between the two sides came in cup football in 1979, when Gordon Milne’s Sky Blues were handed an away trip to Leeds Road in the Second Round of the League Cup to take on a fourth-tier Huddersfield Town side. The game was perhaps most notable for centre-back, Jim Holton, scoring what (from what I can tell) was his only goal for Coventry City. The win was wrapped up by the considerably more prolific Ian Wallace, in what was the early part of his final season at Highfield Road.

No, there’s not any highlights of this game on YouTube.

The Opposition

The Manager – Carlos Corberan

A risky appointment over the summer for Huddersfield Town as replacement for the more experienced Cowley brothers, Carlos Corberan has shown in spells in his time in charge of the Terriers that the decision to hand the former Leeds under-23 manager the job could prove to be an inspired one. With little backing in the transfer market, Corberan has made Huddersfield an attractive side to watch, that can play some really slick, possession-based football.

Their current position in mid-table reflects that some of the brighter moments have been balanced out by some shambolic ones. In looking to dominate possession, Huddersfield have left themselves open at the back, which is what has prevented them from pushing into the play-off picture. However, a win in this game would push the Terriers towards the top six, which would be a testament to the good work Corberan is doing in overhauling the style of a squad largely not of his own choosing.

Possible Line-Up (4-3-3): Schofield; Pipa, Edmonds-Green, Sarr, Toffolo; Hogg, Eiting, O'Brien; Mbezna, Diakhaby, Campbell.
Possible Line-Up

Who To Look Out For

A serious injury sustained by top-scorer, Josh Koroma, is a blow to this Huddersfield Town side, but there is still a handful of useful attacking players at Corberan’s disposal who are match-winners on their day. The pace and skill of wide-men, Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza – both signed during the club’s recent time in the top-flight- could be a huge threat to our defence in this game, with Mbenza having proven to be the more effective of the two. In addition, striker, Fraizer Campbell, and attacking-midfielder, Alex Pritchard, are attacking players of calibre, even if they have struggled for impact in recent years.

It is the engine room in midfield where Huddersfield are at their strongest at the moment. With the experienced Jonathan Hogg sitting, it provides the platform for the more exciting and energetic Juninho Bacuna, Lewis O’Brien and Carel Eiting to show what they can do. Bacuna – like his brother and current Cardiff City player, Leandro – covers a lot of ground but also has an eye for the spectacular. O’Brien is another workhorse with a touch of class about him. Eiting, on loan from Ajax and once talked about in the same breath as Mathijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, is the class act, capable of influencing games either from deep or further forward.

That skill and energy Huddersfield have in central midfield is aided by the enterprising play of attacking full-backs, Pipa, and Harry Toffolo. Right-back, Pipa, is absolutely relentless in the manner he gets forward on the right side of the pitch and will constantly look to get to the byline. Toffolo on the left offers more craft, reliably producing quality deliveries and capable of chipping in with the odd goal.

Where The Game Will Be Won Or Lost

Carlos Corberan looks to be targeting this game as winnable for his Huddersfield Town side, having rested quite a few key players in their heavy defeat at Bournemouth on Saturday. With Mark Robins possibly resting at least a few of our key players in this game, we could be set for an example of how this congested fixture list is distorting the competitive nature of the campaign.

With the pace and directness Huddersfield have in wide areas with their flying wingers and rampaging full-backs, the wing-backs could really be left exposed in this game if the away side end up dominating the middle of the pitch. As such, it may be a consideration to go to a back four in order to avoid us getting outnumbered in wide areas.

The weak area of this Huddersfield Town side is clearly in defence, where the centre-backs that they have aren’t mobile or talented enough on the ball to fully integrate into the style of football Carlos Corberan wants to play. Whether it’s by pressing them high up the pitch or drawing them up to catch them on the counter, our game-plan is likely to be predicated on exploiting Huddersfield’s weakness in that area of their side.

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