Huddersfield Town return to the scene of one of last season’s most heroic performances when they travel across the Pennines to face Premier League defending champions Manchester City this Sunday. The Terriers were the only team who managed to prevent City scoring in a game last season, when they held Pep Guardiola’s superstars to a goalless draw in May. That valuable point did a lot to keep David Wagner’s team in the top flight last season, and his team will surely be taking plenty of inspiration from that result.
City started their season last week with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win away at Arsenal. Guardiola’s team looked pretty comfortable against the Gunners. What was really noticeable was the way that City’s pressing game forced Arsenal further and further back, with Arsenal keep Petr Cech having to touch the ball far more often than he was comfortable with. Huddersfield will need to make sure that they don’t try and overplay out from the back if they are to cope with this.
The Terriers opened their Premier League campaign last week with a 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea. Wagner’s team were in the game until just before half time, when Chelsea opened the scoring with a penalty. After the interval, some of the spirit seemed to drain out of the Huddersfield team, and Chelsea finished the game very much in control. Whoever scores first at the Etihad will be important, then, and Huddersfield need to keep City as bay for as long as possible in order to have a chance in the game. Another 0-0 would be a massive achievement for Wagner and his team.
Manchester City vs Huddersfield Town Prediction: City 2-0 Huddersfield
Despite Huddersfield’s heroics of last season, it would be a brave person who decided to bet against a City victory this weekend. The depth of quality in the City team makes them a real challenge for any team in the Premier League, let alone a side with one of the smallest wage bills in the division. Wagner’s team will have to rely on spirit, organisation and a large slice of luck if they want to emerge from their trip to the Etihad with a positive result.
Our prediction is that City will win the game 2-0. The goals might come late, though, and City are likely to have to be patient. Huddersfield will be motivated, and tactically they are sure to follow a similar pattern to that employed at the Etihad last season. The emphasis will be on precenting City scoring, rather than scoring themselves. City will win, but it might be a good idea to expect the goals to come in the last quarter of the game.
Our recommended tip: City victory, Sterling to score
Our featured betting tip for this match comes courtesy of William Hill. They are offering odds of 4/5 on City winning and Raheem Sterling scoring at any time. We have chosen this tip because we expect the home side to win the game, though they will also probably have to work very hard to break the visitors down. One way of breaking down stubborn teams is to hit them on the break with pace, something that Sterling possesses in abundance. The chances of a pacey player like Sterling getting on the end of a break are pretty strong. The England international also has the quality to score from outside as well as inside the box, making him even more of a threat. Odds of 4/5 are pretty good, and should bring a decent return for a pretty low risk bet.
These two sides met twice in the Premier League last season, with those games being their first league meetings for many years. All of their previous league encounters were outside the Premier League. City won the first game, which was at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium in November 2017. Huddersfield actually went into the lead, with a Nicolas Otemendi own goal putting the 1-0 up just before half-time. The lead did not last long, though, with Sergio Aguero equalising from the penalty spot in the 47th minute. City had to wait until late in the game to clinch the victory, with England forward Raheem Sterling netting in the 84th minute.
The second game was at the Etihad in May, and ended in a goalless draw. The result surprised everyone in football, and was a real triumph of heart and spirit for a team who had the lowest wage bill in the Premier League last season. City’s expensively assembled squad could not break the Terriers down, and the result functioned almost as a metaphor for the Terriers’ campaign. David Wagner would surely opt for a repeat of that performance and result if it was offered to him ahead of Sunday’s game.
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Players to watch: Raheem Sterling & Aaron Mooy
Raheem Sterling is one of England’s finest forwards, something that England coach Gareth Southgate recognised at the World Cup. Despite being the recipient of almost unhinged abuse from some quarters, the former Liverpool forward offers hard work as well as skill, and will cause the Huddersfield defence problems, whether he is deployed wide or through the middle. Sterling has plenty of pace, something which all defenders fear. He also has plenty of character, as is shown by the way he continues to turn in consistent performances despite the shrieking abuse he receives.
Australian international Aaron Moy was linked with a move to Manchester City this summer, as well as to Everton, Southampton and West Ham United, but he is still in West Yorkshire for now. The Aussie was a solid performer for the Socceroos at the World Cup in Russia, and he offers bite and steeliness in the centre of the park. If Town are to prevent City scoring, then his graft in front of the defence will be crucial. Mooy was actually a City player when he joined Huddersfield on loan two years ago, before making the move permanent last year.