Huddersfield Town hope to continue their impressive start to their maiden Premier League campaign as they visit the London Stadium in West Ham’s first home match of the season.
Whilst the Terriers have accumulated seven points in their opening three games, the Hammers find themselves bottom of the table, having won none of their opening three games.
David Wagner picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month award for August, whilst the pressure continues to mount on Slaven Bilic in a tale of two sides with contrasting fortunes.
Here are three battles that will have an important influence on the result of tonight’s game.
Javier Hernandez vs Christopher Schindler
The Terriers have made a wonderful start to their first ever season in the Premier League and are yet to concede a goal. A large part of that is down to the performances of Christopher Schindler.
The German centre-back was once Huddersfield’s record signing, joining from 1860 Munich for under £2m, and has been solid in defence.
Schindler organises his backline well and has excellent concentration. However, he will have to remain focused for the entire 90 minutes as Javier Hernandez has some of the best movement of any striker in world football.
The Mexican is a proven Premier League goal-scorer and a fox in the box in the truest sense of the term. If Schindler can track his runs successfully, Huddersfield will have a great chance of keeping West Ham out.
The 27-year-old, despite his skill on the ball, is also a no-nonsense defender who is kept busy. He has, so far, averaged 7.7 clearances per Premier League game this season, whilst also averaging nearly two fouls per game.
With Hernandez’s movement and clever style of play, these actions are only bound to increase.
Aaron Mooy vs Cheikhou Kouyate
Mooy has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season so far. The Australian is arguably the signing of the summer, having cost Huddersfield only £10m after an excellent season on loan from Manchester City.
Mooy has the work ethic and desire required to play for a newly promoted side, shown by his average of three tackles per game, but he also has a wonderful ability on the ball and likes to break forward.
However, his ability on the ball is more to dictate the tempo of the game for Huddersfield rather than contribute directly to a shot on goal. He averages only one key pass per game and is yet to complete a through ball this season although he has the ability to do so.
Kouyate himself is excellent at winning the ball back, but he’s only played 19 minutes of Premier League football this season, although he completed a tackle, interception and foul in that short space of time.
If Kouyate is not up to match speed, he will struggle to deal with the energy and forward breaks from Mooy.
Mark Noble vs Philip Billing
Again, this battle centres on a West Ham player stopping a Huddersfield player on the ball. Philip Billing has wonderful composure in possession and is intelligent with his use of it, often making opposing players chase shadows with his passing ability.
However, his pass completion rate of 77% is actually rather low for someone who is so accomplished on the ball. Billing likes to spread play, though, averaging 2.7 long balls per game, and perhaps his risky style of passing is why his completion rate isn’t higher.
Noble is a hard worker who has the desire and energy levels to press Billing and make it uncomfortable to pass the ball. However, Noble, too, is a decent passer and can pick a ball out if he isn’t closed down efficiently, so Billing will also have a job to do to help stop the West Ham midfielder gaining control.
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