Yorkshire news Rowe announces himself and Corberan's perfect gameplan among five conclusions PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - The Terriers claimed a shock 4-1 victory over Swansea City at the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday afternoon to finally bring some positivity back to a flagging season
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Huddersfield Town finally stopped their winless run dead in its tracks as a scintillating start to the second half gave them an unexpected first victory of 2021 against in-form Swansea City. Fraizer Campbell’s sixth goal of the season gave the Terriers a deserved lead midway through the first half but everyone watching will have feared more points would be dropped as Conor Hourihane’s free kick beat Ryan Schofield in first-half injury time. But Lewis O'Brien got the Terriers’ second half off to the best possible start with an early goal and within another seven minutes a Duane Holmes double had put them 4-1 ahead. A serious-looking injury to Jordan Morris after Swansea had already used all five substitutions reduced the visitors to ten men for the final 30 minutes of the game, and Town saw out the game to claim the full three points. Here are our five conclusions on a sensational result. Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will auto-play soon8Cancel Play now 1. Huddersfield Town thoroughly deserved this win despite their good luck Huddersfield Town were their own worst enemies more often than not on that winless run that we can now mercifully stop talking about, but there were also games when their efforts did not get the rewards they deserved – most notably in the 2-1 defeats against Bristol City and Middlesbrough, games that had us phoning the EFL demanding the ball and goalposts be checked for the presence of powerful electromagnets. (They did not phone back.) The Terriers were well past the point of Just Needing One To Go In Off Someone’s Backside, the pundit’s ultimate description of a team that is both down on its luck and out of form. And to be fair, there was an element of luck to each of Town’s goals: Fraizer Campbell’s opener hit the post on its way in, Lewis O'Brien got a big deflection off a defender as he restored the lead, Freddie Woodman should have saved Duane Holmes’ first goal, and even his brilliant second got the biggest assist from a bobble since Stan Collymore’s goal against Blackburn in 1996 as the ball sat up beautifully for him to strike. But there were just as many things that went against Town as went for them…or at least, it felt like it at the time. Campbell had what would have been the opener chalked off for an offside that I’m told was correctly applied – apparently coming back onto the field of play before the ball left the box meant O’Brien was offside as soon as he touched it regardless who the ball last came off – but the wording of that law is not so much clear as mud as it is so wilfully and torturously obscure that if fairytale goblins used it as a fiendish riddle the heroes would never get the princess back. O’Brien was then wrestled to the floor from a corner just a couple of minutes later for what looked like a nailed-on penalty, but careful freeze-framing reveals that the foul occurred as Juninho Bacuna was in his run-up to deliver the corner so a retake was the correct decision. You win round two, match officials. Bacuna himself hit the post two minutes after Campbell’s goal, and while we’ll look at the other side of this later, if that was a foul by O’Brien to give Swansea the free kick to score the equaliser then there should have been at least 427 fouls awarded in this game. We’d love to see how they’d have handled injury time after that. All of which is a very long walk around to say that although 4-1 was certainly flattering (the xG suggests 1-0 would have been fairer), we can’t really made a convincing argument that Town stole this victory either. Both the eye test and the stats tell you that Swansea had literally seven good minutes while Town had around 50, with the rest was just spent happily playing the clock out with the lead unassailable and the visitors down to ten men. That’s a better ratio than Town have had for a long, long time. 2. This formation suits Town right now – especially against the big teams Going three at the back has not always been a successful gambit for the Terriers this season, but with the personnel currently available to Carlos Corberan, we felt it was the right decision to go back to the formation that had looked so positive in the closing stages of the Middlesbrough game and the start of the Wycombe game. The discovery of Aaron Rowe as a left wing-back at the Riverside only made that notion even more compelling, and the youngster only hammered home that point further against Steve Cooper’s side – but we’ll come to that in a moment. Playing Rowe in that role meant O’Brien was able to move into his preferred midfield role and he had his best outing yet this season. Fielding so many mobile attacking players meant Town constantly had an extra man left over with acres of space to move into against the Swans defence and more often than not that was O’Brien, who showed the folly of that through his part in the build-up to three of the four goals. Fraizer Campbell was also in impressive form: he scored the first, set up Town’s second and got the pre-assist for the third, once again proving the simple point that Campbell can and will thrive if you get other players close to him high up the pitch. He was in similarly fine form in the first half against Wycombe playing in the same 3-5-2 before it all went to hell after the break. Here he had Holmes alongside or just behind him; Pipa and Rowe both coming inside from out wide; and both O’Brien and Bacuna (who was also effective and good) bombing in to the edge of the box from deep. All of those combinations of players ultimately contributed to the goals. A word too for Alex Vallejo, who played on the right of the back three and had more of the ball than any other Town player. That too was a smart move: we’re used to seeing Naby Sarr getting into the double-digits for long ball attempts to mixed effect, but here the clear instruction was to shift it out to the other side and let Vallejo do that job. Sarr can do it, but after the couple of months he’s had there is wisdom in giving him less to do for a little while and let him build back up his confidence in the basics. This is not a formation that suits every game, and the Wycombe game exposed its weaknesses, but credit to Corberan: he absolutely nailed this game. With Richard Stearman back, Rarmani Edmonds-Green on his way too and Town missing all their senior wingers, it might be their best plan A for the time being.
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. Aaron Rowe is worth finding a place for The result was the most important thing here as Town finally let the bad smell of 2021 out of the room by claiming the three points – but in the months and years to come we might come to regard the last couple of games as being more notable as the genesis of Aaron Rowe as a left-sided player. Rowe made his breakthrough in the Premier League under Jan Siewert but Town have never quite been able to find his best position. He’s been tried at full-back, wing-back and on the wing on the right hand side, but he has never quite looked entirely comfortable in any of those roles even accounting for his youth. But necessity is the mother of invention, and she’s just given birth to a beautiful baby left winger. Harry Toffolo’s suspension, Jaden Brown’s injury and O’Brien’s poor performances at left-back (not a knock on him, he was out of position, but it’s true) all had to conspire together for Rowe to get that chance off the bench against Boro – and already we can’t imagine Town starting without him on the left even now Toffolo’s is able to return. Rowe’s movement, quick-thinking and execution on the pass to set up Holmes’ first was particularly excellent; and we know from the FA Cup that he’s capable of cutting inside and shooting too. We wouldn’t expect Rowe to start ahead of Toffolo, but he could start ahead of Toffolo – wait, let us rephrase that. He’s not going to play at left-back or wing-back instead of Toffolo, but we could definitely see Rowe playing with him on the left wing of a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. In fact we can’t just see it, we’re excited to see it. Maybe there’s something in this whole youth policy after all?
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4. Game management almost became a costly issue again For all the good things we’ve outlined above, things could very easily have gone the other way, Swansea may only have had seven good minutes but Town were a tad fortunate that the goal they scored came so close to the break: had they scored earlier than that, as their heavy pressure deserved (Sarr had to clear one off the line, remember), then we would have been seriously worried about them getting a second and taking a lead into the break. That period of extended Swansea pressure started after Richard Keogh was caught dawdling on the ball in the centre circle and was tackled, allowing the visitors to go charging through on goal. Town found it difficult to get out of their own half thereafter, with Swansea taking five of their nine shots in that brief spell. Town’s defenders have been too sloppy in possession plenty of times this season but as Corberan has reminded us several times, that has as much to do with the options presented to the player on the ball. Keogh didn’t cover himself in glory but in the end he was prevaricating because there were too few good options for him to pass to. We’ve criticised Town for being unable to get the second and third goals and kill things off but there are also times when you need to recognise a storm is brewing and start playing it a bit safer. Things had been going alright until that error, fine, but after that mistake they should have gone ‘you know what, there’s six minutes till half time and this lot have starting going for it now, let’s just get there and go again second half’. To Town’s credit they did a much better job of that second half. As my podcast colleague David Hartrick pointed out, the 3-5-2 became a proper 5-4-1 out of possession after the break, and while Swansea’ unfortunate reduction to ten men obviously helped Town, they nonetheless did a very respectable job of seeing out that final 30 minutes. 12 of their 16 players had a pass completion rate of at least 88%, and Corberan used his substitutions to give a well-earned rest to several key players: Campbell’s withdrawal meant he missed his first Championship minutes since Boxing Day, and the 11 minutes Bacuna got watching the game from the bench was more rest than he’s had in the last 11 league games combined.
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5. Swansea played into Town’s hands – now they must show they can force the issue Town did a lot of things well but it’s fair to say Swansea were more than generous with their defending. We’re not taking anything away from this magnificent result; as has hopefully come across, we think it’s appropriate to be a bit giddy in the aftermath of such an unexpected, comprehensive and deserved victory, especially in light of the prior form of the respective sides. You can feel the ‘but’ coming already, can’t you? So here it is: BUT…Town need to take what they did well in this game and find a way to make it work against different types of opposition, especially those who sit back and defend. It’s a strange quirk of Town’s season that they have scored just ten goals in ten games against the rest of the Championship’s current bottom nine but 17 in 13 games against the top nine. They either beat the big teams or get thumped by them; against the bottom teams, their struggles to score have meant that they draw more often than they win. We didn’t want to spoil the fun by mentioning it sooner but Town are still in a relegation battle, and while this result is an enormous confidence boost it doesn’t change the fact that they need to do better against middling-to-poor opposition if they want to get out of it. Derby were dreadful at the John Smith's Stadium earlier this season but Town still only managed to beat them 1-0, and the Rams have been much improved since Wayne Rooney took charge. As such, the trip to Pride Park on Tuesday afternoon will tell us a lot more than this game ever could about what we can expect for the rest of the season. Still, nice to get a win isn’t it?
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