12:30 KO (BST); Saturday 30th September; John Smith’s Stadium (Huddersfield, England) Sky Sports
Huddersfield will face Tottenham for the first time since a League Cup meeting in 1972. Having won 16 of their 40 meetings in all competitions (D 13, L 11) the Terriers have a historical edge in this fixture, however, times have changed considerably since the pair last met.
With three draws from their last four league games, Huddersfield have set an early stall as a team hard to beat, but with only one goal scored from those four games, they’re currently finding it hard to win games in the Premier League.
While not yet setting the league on fire, Spurs have manoeuvred themselves into the top four after a quietly efficient start to the season.
Coming into this game on the back of an away trip in Cyprus, Tottenham will need to play better than they did against Swansea following their previous European exploits if they’re to maintain their push.
Having won all three of their Premier League away fixtures so far, Spurs will look to maintain this 100% record and keep their wagon quietly rolling as they sit within striking distance of the teams hoarding the headlines.
Last time out
Burnley 0 – 0 HUDDERSFIELD [Premier League]
A dour, scoreless match was more of a game for masochists than purists, with little between these two sides who remain level on points.
With no shots on target from either team during the first half, the only major talking point was what looked to be a blatant dive from substitute Rajiv van La Parra in the 73rd minute as he tried to win a penalty.
While the statistics will say Tom Ince achieved a 94% successful pass rate, he only attempted 17 passes from his 90 minutes on the pitch and could not find a way into the game for either himself or his team.
With plenty of attacking forward options available and a run of poor games, Ince could see himself watching on from the bench after this non-performance.
APOEL Nicosia 0 – 3 TOTTENHAM [Champions League]
Harry Kane once again proved the star attraction as he left-foot, right-foot, headed his way to a hat-trick which provided another three points in Group H for the Lillywhites.
The game could have had a different texture if Igor de Camargo’s 19th-minute shot had caught the net rather than the crossbar, however, Spurs showed enough quality over the 90 minutes to more than earn their victory.
While Hugo Lloris had a rare off-form night relative to his own high standards, it was the perfect time to have one as the French ‘keeper found himself with little to do for most parts of the game.
One player who impressed was fellow Frenchman Moussa Sissoko. After a run of solid performances in the first team, Sissoko linked attack and defence together well from the centre of the pitch and was rewarded with his first career assist in the Champions League.
Jon Gorenc Stankovic (knee), Danny Williams (foot), Kasey Palmer (hamstring), Steve Mounie (knock) and Collin Quaner (calf) are all unavailable this weekend meaning that Laurent Depoitre will start up front for the Terriers again after playing the previous two league games.
Rajiv van La Parra and Philip Billing will both also be pushing for a place back in the starting XI, which gives David Warner plenty of options for this game.
Danny Rose (knee), Victor Wanyama (knee) and Erik Lamela (hip) will all definitely miss out, as will Serge Aurier, who is suspended for one game for his second-half red card at West Ham last weekend. Jan Vertonghen returns after his midweek suspension.
Mousa Dembélé (ankle) and Christian Eriksen (illness) are also doubtful, though Eriksen is hopeful of being available whilst Dembélé could be rested with plenty of other options in midfield to cover him
Both Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks impressed in Europe, so we could see both deployed if Eriksen misses out again.
Key Battle: Christopher Schindler vs Harry Kane
The stage is set for Kane to grab yet more headlines after a month in which he’s been the talk of London. Kane is once again likely to be the focal point of Spurs’ attack after being withdrawn from the game in Cyprus after 75 minutes, while this is also likely to be a game of attack vs defence in Tottenham’s favour for the vast majority of the 90 minutes.
Looking to spoil his media party, Schindler will most probably be charged with man-marking Kane throughout the course of the afternoon.
A player in great form so far this season, the 27-year-old German centre-back plays with a measured control and assurance which calms those around him, but he will need to be at his proactive best to prevent Kane adding to the 11 goals he’s already scored this month.
After surprising all of their critics with a stunning start to the season, Huddersfield appear to have settled into a more telling rhythm now. Sat in mid-table with nine points from six games, this is a position that every Huddersfield fan would have happily accepted prior to the opening game of the season.
They now face a more testing period on their schedule, with three of the next four games being against top Premier League sides.
Tottenham, Manchester United and Liverpool lie in wait on their fixture list and while this is the type of game their players and fans would relish when they gained promotion this summer, these fixtures could provide a stern reality check to their early form.
Falling over themselves to win
The FA’s announcement in May that retrospective bans with two-game suspensions would be introduced this season to combat the epidemic problem of diving in the Premier League was met with much positivity.
Having been applied by the Scottish FA since 2011, this change was widely expected to act as a strong deterrent to help eradicate simulation from the English game.
One of the few voices to dispute the rule change was Sam Allardyce. As manager of Crystal Palace, he claimed the new ruling was “utter rubbish,” claiming the changes did not go deep enough to make any significant improvements to the game.
Following Rajiv van La Parra’s dive at Turf Moor last weekend more managers are agreeing, with Sean Dyche also admitting he now believes the rule change is too small to have any telling impact.
As the season continues to unfold, it will be interesting to see how often this new ruling is applied, but it will be even more interesting to see if the FA amends the ruling before the beginning of next season to provide an even stronger deterrent for players to dive.
A rock and a hard place
Mauricio Pochettino will need to utilise the full depth of his squad to keep his players fresh and provide high energy levels on the pitch this weekend against a side who have had a full week to prepare for this game.
While the form of Moussa Sissoko has been a pleasant surprise for Spurs so far this season, they now need several more of the players on the periphery of the first team to step up and deliver for their team.
There’s also an argument that Pochettino should field his strongest possible team to fire Tottenham into an early lead which then allows him to rest any tired legs through substitutions. If this lead fails to materialise, he could find his side running into further difficulties towards the end of the game though.
Whichever method he chooses, he will be open to criticism if his side fails to overcome the challenge of a newly promoted team and only a victory will prevent people questioning the method he goes with on Saturday lunchtime.
PREDICTION: Huddersfield Town 0 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
While it’s always tempting to label a poor result or poor display following a Champions League fixture as a hangover, Huddersfield will provide Spurs with tough opposition on their own merits this weekend.
Other than their swashbuckling win over Everton earlier this month, Spurs have not swept any of their opponents away this season in the same way the other sides challenging for the title have already done.
I can see this being another nervy affair that will test Tottenham’s ability to break down a resilient defence, but a test they will pass with a slender victory.
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