City travel to Yorkshire on Sunday to face David Wagner’s recently promoted Huddersfield side at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Huddersfield host the league leaders on the back of three league losses in the row, where they failed to score a goal. Despite this, Wagner will be relatively pleased with The Terriers’ start, in a comfortable tenth position in late November.
Let’s have a look inside the opposition…
Phillip Billing (ankle), Michael Hefele (Achilles) and Jon Stankovic (ACL) are the notable absentees from David Wagner’s selection pool for the game on Sunday.
Belgian striker Laurent Depoitre will be expected to lead the line, with a fast and skillful trident of Elias Kachunga, Tom Ince and Rajiv van La Parra behind him.
Ex-City man Aaron Mooy will be at heart of the midfield, and operate a box-to-box policy with his neat passing skills. Behind him, youngster Danny Williams will look to add a steel-like protection to the attacking players Huddersfield have at their disposal.
PLAYER TO WATCH
If you are a keen City player, you would have been very pleased with the progress of Aussie midfielder Aaron Mooy whilst on loan at Huddersfield last season. He was the key man in Wagner’s sides’ surprise charge for promotion, getting into a team of the season for the division. Since then, he made his move permanent and has been lauded as a great success for the City Football Group model. Mooy is an orchestrator who has the ability to sit deep and dictate the tempo of games, or if needed, play further up to directly impact his sides’ attacking prowess. The ex-Bolton academy outcast will be keen to prove Pep Guardiola wrong, after the City boss gave the green light to sell him on a permanent in the summer. We have already seen he has been vital to victories against Manchester United and other early-season successes, and City will have to be wary to not give him the time and space he needs to operate his clever passing game.
A VIEW FROM THE OPPOSITION
Ahead of Sunday’s encounter, I spoke to Terriers’ enthusiast Sam Thornton to congratulate him on the promotion, ask him about their season so far, and what he expects on Sunday:
Thoughts on Huddersfield’s start to life in the Premier League
The promotion was just unbelievable. We had a fantastic start and really hit the ground running, much like we did last season in he Championship.I think we’ve settled in really well. We’re competing, thriving in fact, and as a fan, who has been told by previous managers (Chris Powell) “We just can’t compete with other clubs” it’s fantastic to see. I think the idea that we’re now a Premier League club and the standard is much higher hit us when we were sub standard at West Ham. The fact we were gutted as fans that we’d let ourselves down showed how well we had settled in thus far.
Should City fans fear anyone?
City fans should be wary of Aaron Mooy. The fact he was allowed to sign for us permanently, if I’m being totally honest, really surprised me. He was our stand out star performer last year, which is no mean feat given that half our team over achieved and showed we have ‘no limits’. He controls the game and dictates our play. He can play deeper and tick things over or advance and really hurt teams. I’ve never seen somebody so comfortable on the ball. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better player pull on a Town shirt. Mind you, Schindler at the back isn’t far behind.
Opinions on Pep Guardiola’s side
I saw City play against Stoke at home with some tickets I was given. City were incredible. Kevin De Bruyne is on another planet to most central midfielders. He sees things others don’t. The pass he put on a plate for Sane at the back post made me look at my friend next to me in awe. And that’s how I’d describe City at the minute – many of us are in awe of some of your play! The standard has been set but the question for you Citizens has to be if you can keep hitting those heights every week. As a football fan I hope you do – (after Sunday that is!)
Predictions for the weekend’s game
I’m hoping we replicate the performance versus United, against City, but I’m realistic – we need everybody on form, and the likes of Aguero, De Bruyne to misfire a little. Hopefully the atmosphere from our fans, the pressing by our players and Lady Luck help us push for a result, if not steal one. I’m reluctant to say: “I’m just happy to be playing City” because we’ve shown we belong here. But childhood me who remembers travelling to Huish Park in 2003 and seeing us lose 2-1 to Yeovil is in my head saying other wise!
I see the game starting with high intensity and the crowd to be bouncing, as we have been every game home and away this season. If we start well, perhaps take the lead, we’ll give a great account of ourselves. If we concede early we’ve shown this season we find it hard to get back on level terms and get punished pushing forward. We need to box clever against a truly world class team. Head says 3-1 City, heart says 2-1 Town.