12:00 GMT, Sunday 11th February, John Smith’s Stadium (Huddersfield, England), BT Sport
Huddersfield’s slow demise continues as they now find themselves entrenched in the relegation zone for the first time this season.
While a win this weekend could potentially take them back into mid-table, a run a five consecutive defeats make that sound easy than it possibly is.
With 14 of their Premier League games this season resulting in a failure to score, the Terriers need not only to beat Bournemouth this weekend, they need to beat the odds which are heavily stacking up against them.
Where Huddersfield’s season started brightly before dramatically falling away, Bournemouth have done the reverse.
Opening the campaign with four successive defeats, the Cherries have slowly built their confidence with their league position also climbing in tandem.
Undefeated in seven league games (W4, D3), the Cherries now have a chance to record three consecutive wins to consolidate their top-half standing.
Last Time Out
Birmingham City 1-1 Huddersfield Town [ 1-4 aet ] (FA Cup)
An unwanted repay was forced into an unwanted period of extra time in a game which the Terriers extra quality eventually decided the game.
The first half passed as something of an attritional game but, when Birmingham scored through Che Adams just after the interval, it served to wake up the visitors.
Once on the front foot and throwing more caution to the wind, Huddersfield played some attractive football.
The equalising goal may have been an ugly affair finished by Marc Roberts into his own net. However, Huddersfield were only guilty of missing a host of good chances to score in this game.
With the scores locked at full time, the Premier League side’s additional fitness proved the difference while they also found the sights in shooting.
Steve Mounie’s 94th-minute goal effectively killed the game as a contest and with two further goals for the away fans to celebrate, Huddersfield set up a home tie with Manchester United in the fifth-round next weekend.
Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City (Premier League)
The Cherries came from behind to claim all three points with a battling performance which balanced skill and determination.
Having fallen behind to a 5th-minute goal, the Cherries were further rocked in the 13th-minute when centre-back Steve Cook was forced off with a hamstring injury. This caused Howe to bring on Joshua King and reshuffle his side from a back-three to a back four.
While Stoke controlled the majority of possession and the flow of the game, it was Bournemouth who enjoyed the more clear-cut chances to score.
After the break, it was the Cherries who stepped their efforts up a gear or two. The pressure eventually told in the 70th-minute when King scored his first goal since November before a mix-up in Stoke’s defence gave Lys Mousset his first Premier League goal.
While there was an air of fortune surrounding both goals for the Cherries, there was little luck in the direction the game fell as Bournemouth continued their good run to climb into 9th-position.
Chris Löwe (groin), Elias Kachunga (knee) and Danny Williams (leg) are all unavailable for the Terriers this weekend, while Laurent Depoitre (foot) and Christopher Schindler (foot) could also be left on the sidelines.
Having used a strong line-up in the mid-week Cup replay, Wagner is likely to bring some new faces into the side to freshen his team but will likely start with a similar-looking eleven.
Steve Cook’s hamstring injury is not as serious as first feared, however, he remains a doubt to feature in this weekend’s game.
Adam Smith (thigh), Tyrone Mings (back) and Jermain Defoe (ankle) will all definitely miss out meaning either 21-year-old Jack Simpson could be thrust into the starting lineup or Howe could revert to the 4-4-2 formation he played the majority of the Stoke match with.
Key Battle: Steve Mounie (Huddersfield) vs Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
With regular striker Depoitre likely to miss this match, Mounie looks set to lead the line for the Terriers this weekend.
Since bagging a brace in the opening day win over Crystal Palace, the Terriers new signing has yet to establish himself in the team.
Having been dogged by injury problems for much of this campaign, the only other Premier League game he scored in was another brace secured against Brighton in December. But with the winning goal against Birmingham on Tuesday, he can look to build a belated stake for a more regular place in the team.
Having scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, Callum Wilson has since failed to fulfil the promise that he’s often shown at Bournemouth.
The striker has been plagued by minor injuries over the last season and a half, limiting his goals tally and also preventing him from building up any real momentum to his game.
Starting the last eight league games and scoring four in his last seven, this may be about to change.
While Birmingham are a Championship club, they’re also a club who have currently found a good streak of form.
Huddersfield’s win over them on Tuesday evening may look on paper as if it was a struggle for them to progress, however, they showed an attacking sense and creative qualities which have been missing for far too long in their league games.
The dip in form of Aaron Mooy has now continued through the whole of this year which seems to be a large reason for this.
Against Birmingham, Philip Billing showed that he has the ability to play that position in central midfield capably enough to replace the Australian.
While Billing is presently returning from a long injury, he provides an option for Wagner to rest his star player and replenish his powers for the potentially critical final matches of this season.
No panic buys
As the only Premier League club who didn’t recruit a new player last month, Bournemouth have stuck firmly to their principles. While the club is not averse to big money signings such as the £20m spent on bringing Nathan Aké to the South Coast permanently, they largely focus on the long-term picture with regards to player recruitment.
As a club who have battled back from the brink of financial failure 10 years ago, the Cherries place most of their faith in their own academy. This often means recruiting promising youngsters who they can then mould into the players that they need.
Lewis Cook has been a leading example of this following his run of good form since firmly establishing himself in the first-team at the beginning of December. Having resisted calls which have rang out since last season for the promising youngster to be given a chance, the patience appears to have paid off.
Fellow youngster Lys Mousset scored his first league goal for the club last weekend and many believe that he too can prove he’s now ready for the top-flight.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-2 Bournemouth
Huddersfield will be hoping their FA Cup win can propel their league form, however, it could prove to be more of a distraction than an inspiration.
While the extra game shouldn’t affect the Huddersfield players too much, the Bournemouth side have proven themselves a fitter team than most recently and are likely to find a way to break down the home side over the course of this match.