Australian Four Four Two - - PREMIER LEAGUE -

Hud­der­s­field come into 2018-19 on the back of two in­cred­i­ble, David Wag­ner-or­ches­trated cam­paigns. Pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship via the play-offs in 2016-17, hav­ing fin­ished 19th the pre­vi­ous term, was fol­lowed by 16th place in the Pre­mier League – not too shabby for a side al­most uni­ver­sally tipped to fin­ish four spots be­low that.

They’re rid­ing the crest of a wave, yet when it comes to scor­ing goals it’s more of a slow drip. Hud­der­s­field net­ted only 28 league goals last sea­son. That meant Town equalled a record set by Ge­orge Gra­ham’s Leeds in 1996-97 for the low­est tally scored by any team to stay in the Pre­mier League.

The Terriers didn’t even outscore any of the three rel­e­gated clubs, and while we’re sure their fans didn’t give that a thought as they cel­e­brated sur­vival, it is a con­cern go­ing into this sea­son. Frankly, un­less three clubs are some­how all man­aged by Alan Pardew at the same time, it’s un­likely we’ll see a trio of teams in 2018-19 as hap­less as last sea­son’s rel­e­gated batch. In short: Hud­der­s­field need to score more goals.

Strik­ers would be the ob­vi­ous place to start, see­ing as top scor­ers Steve Mounie and Lau­rent De­poitre notched only seven and six league goals re­spec­tively. But both out­per­formed their ‘ex­pected goals’ rat­ing. They were ac­tu­ally tuck­ing away chances at a de­cent rate, given the pal­try lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties they had, so the is­sue could be more the sup­ply than the fin­ish­ing. In the ‘pasty Pirlo’ Aaron Mooy, Hud­der­s­field boast a deep-ly­ing play­maker that most teams would envy.

Their prob­lem is the un­der­per­form­ing wingers and at­tack­ing mid­field­ers in front of him. Tom Ince, Ra­jiv van La Parra and Elias Kachunga made a com­bined 85 league ap­pear­ances and av­er­aged a goal or an as­sist ev­ery nine and a half a matches. Be­tween them. Early sign­ings in­clude Ra­madan Sobhi, the Egyp­tian wide­man who didn’t pull up many trees at Stoke but has po­ten­tial.

An­other in­vest­ment is Jun­inho Ba­cuna, an at­tack­ing mid­fielder, Dutch un­der-21 in­ter­na­tional and brother of Read­ing’s Le­an­dro – and not, in spite of his name, a Foot­ball Man­ager re­gen. He and Sobhi are 21. The man­ager’s faith in youth is ad­mirable, if risky. Wag­ner has iden­ti­fied the cre­ativ­ity is­sue and tried to fix it. If Hud­der­s­field can keep teams at bay (Jose Mour­inho’s Manch­ester United al­lowed as many shots on tar­get as they did last term), the Terriers could stay up – but they can’t af­ford to score only 28 goals again.

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