Title hopefuls Liverpool travel to Yorkshire to face Huddersfield in the hopes that a win here can provide stimulus for a season that has just started to sputter a bit after a dream start. They could barely hope for a better launchpad – apart from permacrisis club Newcastle, obviously – from which to relaunch their title tilt, with the Terriers leaky at one end of the pitch and sluggish at the other. Nonetheless, this is the Huddersfield Town that has taken points off both Manchester clubs since arriving in the Premier League, so Jurgen Klopp knows he can’t be too careful.
Klopp’s opposite number here, and long-time friend, David Wagner, will meanwhile be hoping to continue the minor revival that sparked with a come-from-behind 1-1 draw at Burnley on the hosts’ last Premier League assignment. A forlorn hope it may be, but with just eight games gone, now’s not the time to give up
Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool Prediction: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Liverpool
Huddersfield bring many positive qualities to the Premier League, among which is an absolute refusal to know when they’re beaten. The obvious answer is “usually about ten to five on a Saturday evening”, but it’s uncharitable to point that out. They’ll set out to make it tough for Klopp’s usually free-wheeling Reds, and given the fitful form of last season’s standout player Mo Salah, the visitors won’t be boundlessly confident going into this game. However, there’s enough wit about Liverpool’s multi-talented side to ensure a comfortable win here – even if Salah’s misfiring or absent, other players can fill the void.
Our recommended tip: Sturridge to score
With Sadio Mane nursing a knock, and Salah not certain of his participation here, Daniel Sturridge finds himself – for perhaps the first time ever – in the role of “striker whose fitness is not in doubt”. Whether that status can survive the 90 minutes of a professional football match is a matter for some musing, but all cynicism aside, Sturridge usually only needs a few minutes to get on the scoresheet. Against a shaky Huddersfield defence, he’ll fancy his chances of getting on the end of something, and 888’s odds of 5/4 (2.25) on him grabbing his third Premier League goal this season are surprisingly generous.
Huddersfield’s appearance in the Premier League – their first top-flight season for 45 years – caught everyone, themselves included, by surprise in 2017/18. In two games against Liverpool, no-one expected them to pick up so much as a point – and they didn’t. On their visit to Anfield, the Terriers held their hosts at bay for the first half, but Sturridge opened the scoring on 50 minutes, and goals from Firmino and Gini Wijnaldum followed as Pool emerged 3-0 winners. The return fixture ended in exactly the same way – Firmino again on the mark, with Emre Can and Salah notching either side of his goal.
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Players to watch: Mathias Jorgensen & James Milner
Huddersfield’s ethos – in the Championship and the Premier League – is very much about the team, and there are no out-and-out stars among their number. That’s both a blessing and a curse; they defend as a group, and they attack as an amorphous, directionless mass. However, Jorgensen was an ever-present in their successful relegation battle last time out. He tackles with commitment and precision and he will not back down. Liverpool will need to be on their game to get past him.
In a career of four moves, for a total fee verging on £40million, the best one that James Milner has made is the one that came for free. While he’s been a stalwart for every club he’s joined, at Liverpool he is the glue that holds together a team of stars. As well as a very reliable penalty-taker, he’s versatile, has a solid range of passing and almost no ego to speak of. Often lampooned as boring, he’s exactly the kind of player you need in the side if you’re going to grit out a win, and he’ll put in another flawless 90 minutes here.