Huddersfield Town played out a scoreless draw with Swansea City in the Premier League today, despite the visitors being reduced to ten men after eleven minutes. The draw leaves both teams on thirty-one points and still in the midst of a relegation scrap. Here are the main talking points from the game.
We've seen it before so we shouldn't be shocked by the Portuguese managers tactics by now. When Sheffield Wednesday visited Town last season they played deep, defensive football on both occasions with the scores finishing 0-1 and 0-0 respectively.
Granted, Jordan Ayew's dismissal early on left Swansea with little choice other than to park the bus, but there had been no signs of an alternative tactic in the opening ten minutes. Ultimately parking the bus proved successful for Swansea, but watching a team play an entire game without once mustering an attack was tedious.
David Wagner has had no answer to these tactics in recent encounters with Carvalhal, indeed Town have only scored twice in seven games against a side managed by the journeyman Portuguese gaffer. If Town are to progress they must find a way to overcome negative, insipid opponents.
From the minute Ayew was dismissed, Town pushed further up the field and played much wider, swapping the ball from side to side. Which in practice, is the perfect way to play against ten-men, but after sixty minutes, it became clear that it wasn't working.
Swansea simply loaded their penalty area with defenders and waited for the inevitable cross, when they would crowd out Steve Mounie. Surely a change in emphasis from the home side was needed to break the deadlock.
More direct football - although not pretty - may have yielded results. It would have put a different pressure on the visitors and perhaps have drawn them out a little, forcing their defence to reshape quickly. When Alex Pritchard was replaced with Collin Quaner it gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that, but instead we continued in the same fashion.
Twenty-six shots to none hints at a high-level of Town superiority, yet Lukasz Fabianksi was never really under threat in the Swans goal. Huddersfield hit the post and the bar, but didn't produce any clear-cut chances throughout the ninety minutes.
The Dutch winger divides opinion in Huddersfield, and there were one or two groans directed towards him during the match. However, he highlighted his importance in this game and shone on several occasions despite being tightly marked.
His ability to beat a man is something that this squad lacks, and when he burst through two defenders to win a free-kick on the edge of the box Swansea's confident defence looked genuinely flustered for the first time.
Not only does he have the ability to beat a man, but he provides important cover in defensive areas. When Town lost the ball today, he was quick to regain possession and his tackling ability is a trait rarely seen in wingers.
His final ball and end product leave something to be desired, but he's far from the worst offender in the team on that score. Some of the criticism levelled at Van La Parra would be better suited to Tom Ince, the indecisive winger that always seem to take one touch too many.
We go again
Hopes of a victory that would propel us closer to safety were high, and Town fans could almost start to dream about another season in the Premier League. David Wagner and Zanka had both highlighted the 'winnability' of this fixture and next week's against Crystal Palace.
Whilst a point is better than nothing, it doesn't do wonders for our survival bid and still leaves us looking anxiously over our shoulders. It now means that the game against Palace is a real 'six-pointer'.
Victory would take us to thirty-four points and leave the Eagles mired deeply in relegation trouble. Judging by Roy Hodgson's style, Wagner may be faced with yet another dogged, defensive opponent. This time he'll have to come up with an answer.