Huddersfield v Fulham: Cottagers can keep Terriers at bay

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Friday night's fixture between under-pressure Huddersfield and fancied Fulham.

Huddersfield v Fulham | Friday 16th August 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Huddersfield take on Fulham in some Championship Friday night action, whilst last season this was an all-Premier League affair. Both would be relegated from the top-flight, but the head-to-head meetings saw each side win their respective home encounter 1-0.

Huddersfield are still looking to truly settle down into the league season having gone winless in two, but Fulham recovered from an opening day loss to record a home win last weekend.

Across all Championship matches across the opening two weekends, those contests has averaged 2.63 goals per game. Whilst we’re only a few tussles in, that is still quite a high number, and in the short-term we perhaps won’t be backing against goals too often until things start to settle down. Huddersfield and Fulham boast plenty of offensive talent too, arguably with more of their focus on scoring more than the opposition.

Terriers offensive woes

Whilst Jan Siewart wants to build a team at the John Smith’s Stadium that is capable of taking the game to opponents and playing on the front foot, they’re still coming to terms with this approach. If anything, they’ve only showed it in patches across the first two league clashes. Both goals they’ve scored so far came courtesy of Karlan Grant penalties, so there is obvious room for improvement.

They’ve averaged exactly ten shots on goal on average in the two matches, a number which is only worsened by Birmingham and Charlton. Three shots on target on average isn’t much to shout home about considering two of those within that category were the spot kicks that Grant coolly despatched.

Certainly Huddersfield have enough creativity about them to improve in this area. Whilst losing Aaron Mooy was a blow, albeit an expected one, they still have talents such as Alex Pritchard who can really dictate a game at Championship level. The signing of Frazier Campbell will help ease the pressure and expectation on Grant to get the goals, but the former Hull man might not be match fit enough to participate on Friday.

Also, they lost to League One Lincoln City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, and whilst they made a series of changes to their starting eleven, the fans voiced their displeasure at full time, and pressure on Siewert is seemingly beginning to grow after failing to make an impression since his appointment.

Parker’s big expectations

Being relegated from the Premier League into the Championship can often bring about a period of mourning in the sense that the club is having to rebuild again. Both Huddersfield and Fulham are going through that to a degree, but something of an advantage to them both was that relegation seemed certain from a long way off, meaning they’ve had a while to prepare for the season.

Scott Parker however is not imposing as much of a tactical change in comparison to Siewart with the West Yorkshire club, so the transition could possibly be smoother. Fulham lost on the opening day to Barnsley, but they could’ve got something from that. The first win was always going to be the key for them, and getting them at home to Blackburn last weekend will do them the world of good.

Whilst they probably did enough to win, Blackburn did give them a real good game and offered a big offensive threat. Parker will want them to be much tighter and not concede as many openings, but to their credit, they looked much better once they scored, so it could’ve just been a confidence thing.

Following the match, Parker pointed out the fact that there is plenty of experience in this team. He is right. The additions of the likes of Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter, who’ve won promotion out of this division, can only aid their cause in matches such as the one they’ll experience on Friday night. It is a tough away game and one they’ll need to show different sides of their game to progress. Fulham had a good transfer window, so they’ve added the faces they needed to in order to be a consistent promotion contender.

The betting angle

Fulham are classed as narrow favourites for this game, which is understandable. They’re likely to be favourites in most matches they participate in this season given the quality they have available to them. I do just feel that Huddersfield are a side to avoid at the moment, certainly until they can get that elusive first league victory. They’ve been used to losing games for two seasons now, but they’ll be better for their first three-point haul in a while.

Obviously Fulham were relegated too but they got a win last weekend and that could so easily get them on their way to a fairly decent winning run, or at least an unbeaten run. There’s no easy game in the Championship, but they enter this one in a better mental state than Huddersfield, even though nobody in the Town camp will be panicking too much after two games.

I’ll swerve the outright line for this one as Fulham ultimately now need to prove themselves away from home after losing at Barnsley first time up. The Whites are still to convince defensively and if they can control games for 90-minutes, whilst Huddersfield at least performed better versus QPR than they did against Derby. Fulham should have the class edge but they’ll be made to work for it.

Both Teams To Score and Fulham Double Chance is the play at 5/4 (Bet365) on the Bet Builder.

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Huddersfield v Fulham – Both Teams To Score and Fulham Double Chance (5/4 Bet365)

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