Town’s wait for a Premier League win extended to 6 matches on Saturday as David Wagner’s men lost 3-1 to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The problems in the team were clear to see and David Wagner highlighted them in his post-match interview. We made simple errors with the ball in defence, allowing Leicester to hit us on the break and score, and we didn’t take the chances we made.
Instead of going through the game in minute detail, we’re going to have a look at something else in this match report, the Spurs game. Not the one coming up next week, but the 0-4 home loss from last season and how that affected Wagner, his tactics and the team, enjoy.
The Spurs effect
Town started their first season in the Premier League fantastically, destroying Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park and dispatching Newcastle United 1-0 at home. The team stayed true to their philosophy of high-pressing, aggressive football in these games.
Then Tottenham came to West Yorkshire and embarrassed us on our own turf, they picked us off and played around our press with consummate ease. This result forced Wagner to rethink his tactics and he subsequently employed a more cautious style of play.
Most of the debate around this so far has been anecdotal, so we thought it’d be a good idea to trawl through the stats and see how much that defeat and our change in style actually affected the team. There have been 37 league games since the Spurs home defeat, so we’ve analysed those games as well as the 37 results prior to that particular loss.
Pre-Spurs: Town scored 45 goals (across Premier League & Championship) at an average of 1.21 goals per game. That’s hardly an impressive total, but it is important to remember that Town won the majority of their games in the Championship by 1 goal.
Post-Spurs: In the 37 league games since the Spurs defeat, Wagner’s team have scored just 26 goals, with 8 of those coming in 2 league games (Watford & Bournemouth). Our average goals per game throughout that period has been 0.70, however if you treat the Bournemouth and Watford games as anomalies, our goals per game ratio is 0.48.
It might seem harsh to extract those results as anomalies, but they were perhaps the only league games after Spurs in which we reverted to our Gegenpressing style. In that period Town have also scored 10 goals from set-pieces, meaning that we have only scored 8 goals from open play in 35 games in which Wagner has set us up defensively.
Pre-Spurs: The 37 league games prior to Spurs do include a few anomalies, towards the end of the Championship season when Wagner chose to rotate his squad ahead of the play-offs we suffered some heavy defeats. However, in those 37 games Town conceded 44 goals at an average of 1.20 a game, leaving them with a goal difference of +1 during that period.
Post-Spurs: That figure increases markedly in the 37 games since the Spurs defeat with Town shipping 65 goals in total at an average of 1.75 per game. It’s interesting to note that in that run, Wagner set his team up defensively against several high-quality opponents.
In those games Town still shipped the majority of their goals, (0-5, 0-3, 0-3, 1-6, 0-3), which perhaps shows that Wagner’s defensive approach is futile. If the side are going to lose convincingly, then they may as well do so by trying to play entertaining football.
Pre-Spurs: In the 37 league games preceding the Spurs defeat, Town racked up 62 points which reaped them on average 1.67 points per game. During that run The Terriers also bagged 18 wins. Again, defeats to Cardiff and Birmingham towards the end of the Championship campaign slightly skew those statistics.
Post-Spurs: Town have only won 7 of their last 37 league games, which could be reduced to 5 if you’re accounting for the Watford and Bournemouth anomalies. That has produced an average of 0.78 points per game for The Terriers.
If David Wagner is to continue with his cautious tactics for the rest of the Premier League campaign, things look bleak for Huddersfield Town. Based on the figures gleamed from the league games since the Spurs defeat, Town can expect to finish the season with the following statistics.
2018/2019 Predicted Outcome
Goals for: 26
Goals against: 67
Goal difference: -41
Now is the time that David Wagner needs to be brave and change his tactics. We need to revert to what got us to the Premier League in the first place, not just to entertain the fans, but as we can see, because this defensive style of play will end up with us going down regardless.
Let me know what you think in the comments section, until the next time, UTT.