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Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday could hardly have finished their regular league seasons in more different ways. The Terriers will be accused of running out of steam now, while Wednesday managed to rack up 6 wins in a row at one stage to secure their play-off place.
Here we look at three key areas which will decide the outcome of this first leg in what looks like a tight tie between the two Yorkshire outfits:
Smith has been a revelation at right-back this season for Huddersfield, scoring 4 goals and creating another 10 from his defensive position. If Smith wins his personal battle with the Sheffield Wednesday left-back while on his journeys forward, he will tie the Czech defender up and this would essentially become a bonus attacking option for the home side. In doing that, Smith would leave the Huddersfield front 4 free to outnumber the rest of the Owls defence which would be a massive tick in the Terriers’ column.
Playing two up front is a rarity these days, but it seems to be the favoured option for Wednesday. Fletcher and Hooper are both dangerous and if they get a chance, they can score. Hefele and Schindler will need to be at their best in this game to stop that from happening but if they manage to do so, that would be another significant step towards Wembley.
Of course cutting out the supply line is another major task facing Huddersfield, but they will be confident that their German pairing can keep Wednesday’s striker quiet in the box.
With the formations potentially the same, the central midfield battle will be absolutely crucial here. All 4 players in those positions dictate the play for both sides and so a look at their numbers may give us a clue as to which unit is the best.
Hogg & Mooy together produce an average of 5 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game versus Bannan & Lee’s 4.4 tackles and 2.2 interceptions. So defensively, Huddersfield look to have the advantage. On the offensive and passing front, Hogg & Mooy produce 2.4 key passes per game and between them have a passing accuracy of 86%. Bannan & Lee have produced 2.3 key passes per game and have completed a combined 84% of passes, meaning another slight win for the home players.
Hogg & Mooy together have produced 12 goals or assists in a combined 82 games or one every 6.83 games. Bannan & Lee have managed 14 over 69 games – one every 4.92 games, meaning that they have a slightly better output. The fact that it is usually blunted when playing away from home, means that the above stats look like the ones we need to focus on. It seems Huddersfield may win the midfield battle which could be a clue as to which way the first leg will go.