When City were drawn against Huddersfield in the FA Cup Fifth Round, most blues were ecstatic at the thought of an interesting, lower-league away day (for once!). Many will think that this will be an easy win for the Blues, with the gulf in class between the teams. However as the likes of Wolves, Lincoln and Sutton have shown already in this competition, it will be far from easy for City.
Huddersfield are third in the Championship, four points off Brighton in the automatic promotion spots. The West Yorkshire club are managed by German-American David Wagner, who spent four years working with Jürgen Klopp in that double title winning Borussia Dortmund side. Huddersfield are in good form too, and are coming into the game against City on the back of two excellent wins against fellow promotion chasers Brighton and Leeds and a victory over relegation-threatened Rotherham.
Preferred formation and lineup
David Wagner wants his side to dominate possession, keeping the ball in the opposition’s half as a typical German coach would. He likes pace down the flanks with his tricky wingers, but he also places a great emphasis on a strong defensive foundation to guard against counter-attacks.
Jonathan Hogg is an aggressive, deeper-lying midfielder who is tasked with the defensive duties in the middle, screening the consistent back four.
However the most talked about player at the Terriers this season is Aaron Mooy, on loan from Manchester City. At 25, he isn’t as young as most City loanees, but is developing into a top midfielder that has the potential to be a Premier League player. Mooy is the kingpin of the Huddersfield midfield because of qualities both on and off the ball. He can play slightly further forward than in a double pivot, but is equally capable (and probably more suited) to sitting slightly deeper. Luckily for City though, he is not eligible for the this weekend’s game because of the FA’s loan rules.
Danger man – Nakhi Wells
The Bermudian international, Nakhi Wells, recently netted his 100th career goal in English football. With eight goals this season, Wells is the central point of a prolific front three alongside Kachunga and Van La Parra. Since his arrival from Bradford in 2014, Wells has emerged as one of the Championship’s most potent forwards. But he isn’t just a goal scorer – like Gabriel Jesus he has an excellent work-rate off the ball and links up with his team-mates nicely, often dropping off into deeper positions. Wells is an all-round attacker and will be Huddersfield’s biggest threat. City will need to pay particularly close attention to his link-up play with Huddersfield’s attacking midfielders, most notably Kasey Palmer and the January addition Isaiah Brown – both of whom are on loan from Chelsea.
Wells is known for his all round attacking game – he has pace to get in behind and run at defences, however can come short with good hold up play, laying it off to the arriving midfielders whether it be Kasey Palmer, Aaron Mooy, or January addition Isaiah Brown.
Pep has taken the FA Cup seriously this year, fielding strong teams against West Ham and Palace. However, it remains to be seen whether David Wagner will do the same. In the last round (a 0-4 win at Rochdale) Wagner made many changes and played a lot of his fringe players. He might see the Championship as the priority, but with a full stadium against a big Premier League team like City, Wagner will surely want to go for it. The only obvious change to their usual line-up will be Aaron Mooy. Other than that, Huddersfield should field a very similar side to the one above and it won’t be an easy game, even if City are at full strength.