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Huddersfield were underdogs last season in the Championship, and yet they managed to jump from a 19th-place finish to a deserved promotion via the play-offs. Such a leap may not be possible in the top-flight for them right now, but judging from their performances so far, they can fight their way to a strong finish.
Riding high after defeating powerhouse club Manchester United, Huddersfield are currently placed 11th in the table with 12 points. They are tied with Southampton, but it is safe to say that the club have approached their first top-flight campaign since 1971-72 with optimism rather than dread.
What has catapulted Huddersfield to where they are, is the fact that all the important people are on the same wavelength, which is transmitted by the manager. He has generated a very familial atmosphere – the players all pull together, the fans are in love with the club and the relationship between the manager and the club’s chairman, Dean Hoyle, works rather well.
Teams who make it to the Premier League through the play-offs often grumble about having little time to build their squads but Huddersfield were savvy enough to identify and attract targets quickly, bringing in a total of nine players before the start of pre-season training. That gave most recruits the maximum integration time, which is important in a team driven by dynamic pressing style. Steve Mounie, the most expensive of their recruits, has lived up to his billing thus far, and so have other additions.
The Terriers opened opponents up regularly last season with their speed and movement but scored fewer goals due to weak finishing. Mounie and another summer signing Laurent Depoitre have both worked well to solve that. They are reliable finishers and offer an aerial threat that Huddersfield did not have last season, which has truly made a difference to their performances.
Kachunga and Nahki Wells have also proven to be quite effective with their pace and creativity but Mounie, in particular, is very versatile and can also contribute to the free-form attacks that Huddersfield like to unleash now and then. As far as the back line is concerned, Huddersfield’s defence have been tested more rigorously. They have had their good days and bad days but the defenders are working hard and Wagner has the patience to push them until they achieve their best.
The chances are that Huddersfield will do something miraculous in the Premier League but in a relative sense of the term. They are a vibrant, young side and have the potential to finish in the top-10. However, they should also ensure they don’t bite off more than what they can chew. Thus, Huddersfield could finish 12th in the Premier League this season.