On Saturday Huddersfield Town battled well against West Ham United, created good chances and played with plenty of endeavour. After a bright start in which Alex Pritchard opened the scoring Town looked all set to claim their second successive league win.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men were on the ropes and seemingly there for the taking, but that same old problem struck again – profligacy. Town failed to take advantage of the chances they created and were made to pay in the second period.
With time ticking on and the team’s strikers looking incapable of adding a vital second goal, the defence began to retreat to protect what the team had. It looked like we may just cling on for a win until Felipe Anderson smashed an impressive shot into the top corner of Jonas Lossl’s heavily guarded goal.
One big chance fell Town’s way before the full-time whistle, but the game was to finish 1-1 leaving all in West Yorkshire feeling slightly unfulfilled, none more so than Christopher Schindler who looked particularly downbeat in his post-match interview with HTTV.
So let’s delve in to the match review where we’ll discuss the positives and look at stats to address some of Schindler’s post-match concerns.
The performance was there from the team, as was the endeavour and the willingness to run and fight for the cause. Steve Mounie lead from the front and was full of beans throughout the game, harrying and chasing down at every opportunity, fighting for every loose ball and never giving up.
The defence and the ‘keeper battled away stoically in the face of waves of West Ham attacks, ultimately they came out of the game with credit and pride in the fact that they largely subdued one of the league’s most exciting attacking forces.
A Huddersfield Town player scored a goal at home for the first time since Tom Ince’s late strike against Watford in April. Pritchard’s goal was good and a real credit to his instinctive attacking threat.
The fans were fantastic, there was no real nastiness in the game and overall it was an exciting 1-1 draw. There can certainly be no complaint that the punters didn’t get value for their money, if not the satisfaction of a win. Now for the grumbles…
Steve Mounie is the embodiment of our underlying problems
There has been a bit of a debate on social media surrounding the performances of Steve Mounie with some calling him lazy and others calling him a willing runner. We’re not going to say he’s either of those things, what we will say is that he’s a poor quality striker by the standards of this division.
That’s not to say that he wouldn’t do well in the Championship and that’s certainly not to say that he doesn’t have the potential to one day become a good Premier League player. But clearly, he isn’t anywhere near the required standard at the moment.
The 24-year-old’s last goal came away at Brighton, when he was gifted a one-on-one after a misplaced pass by the Brighton defence. Since that day he has played 1,030 minutes without scoring a single goal.
To put that into perspective, Mounie is only 5 games away from equalling Ade Akinbiyi’s infamous goal drought record. In that time Mounie has had a plethora of chances to score – one-on-ones, headers from close range, volleys from close range, tap-ins, but he hasn’t converted any of them.
On Saturday he had 2 good chances to score but squandered them both. Ultimately this sums up the problems with our team of late, we do not score enough of the chances we create, putting our defence under incredible pressure.
This is something that Schindler alluded to in his post-match interview and perhaps he should have a word with Mounie in private about his drought. If 5 games pass and Mounie has still failed to score he will go down in history as even less prolific than Ade Akinbiyi. If that happens he will have to be dropped for the good of the team, and Wagner and Hoyle must look into a replacement in the January transfer window.
The misleading stat
Both Huddersfield Town and Manchester City have hit the woodwork 9 times this season, a stat which would suggest on the face of it that both teams have been incredibly unlucky. However if you dig a little bit deeper, that stat reveals something much different about each team.
Manchester City have had the most shots so far in the league this term (246) so it stands to reason that they would have hit the woodwork the most as well, purely because of the probabilities involved.
However Town have had just 127 shots this season, one of the lowest figures in the league. So it would seem that Town’s problem is not to do with luck, it’s to do with skill. Mounie is a player guilty of hitting the woodwork when it was easier to score – think Chelsea at home.
Further to that a lot of our efforts that have cannoned off the upright have been from speculative long-range efforts. Chris Lowe against Watford, Phil Billing’s cross against West Ham and Jonathan Hogg’s rasper against Liverpool.
These were all pot shots, not real efforts from inside the box that were desperately unfortunate to hit the inside of the post. In fact most of them were just poor shots, with very low chances of scoring. Simply look at our expected goals ratio this season if you don’t believe me.
Do not let the woodwork stat fool you into thinking we have been unlucky in front of goal this season. On occasion, luck may not have shone on us but the majority of the time, our fortunes have been decided by our disastrously poor finishing.
I do apologise for being the bearer of bad news and perhaps taking a negative slant on this match report, but what else could I possibly say? At least with a modicum of integrity? It’s facile to say we are unlucky, it’s negligent to say we don’t have any problems.
Whereas we believe it’s good to delve into the statistics and face realism at times. Christopher Schindler’s interview certainly highlights his thoughts on the matter and resonates with what we have said.
For now, the squad have the chance to recuperate over the international break and come back stronger than before. Over the break Steve Mounie and Laurent Depoitre should be put on shooting practice for 10 hours a day, if not Christopher Schindler is going to have to keep on scoring the goals!