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huddersfield 2 1000x500I headed my preview for the West Ham games with the words Points Needed. We got all three, only our fourth win of the season, and as we travel across the border into West Yorkshire tonight we know there are considerably more points needed between now and the end of the season if we are to remain in the Premier League for a fourth successive season.

Football fans are certainly very reactive. It was all doom and gloom ahead of kick off last Sunday, and to be fair with some justification following the Boxing Day mauling against Everton, but suddenly you would think all was fine with the world after the win yet we remain in the bottom three and are now coming into two crucial games either side of the FA Cup tie, games against the two teams below us.

It’s all been about Tom Heaton and Dwight McNeil. Tom returned for his first Premier League game since September 2017; Dwight became our youngest ever scorer in the league in only his second start, but this was very much a team performance. We looked better in the midfield than we’ve looked all season while the back four gave us the sort of performance we saw so often last season.

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Tom said after his return to the team: “This is what I’ve been chasing. It’s been a long road and a strange road at times. I think I’ve learned a lot, personally, about myself, different situations, what’s important, and the fire is still burning, probably stronger than ever.”

He added: On a personal note it was brilliant to be back in the team and putting on that shirt again. It was great to be out there doing that and more of the same is required. It’s only a starting point. It’s a good starting point.”

I would expect Heaton to retain his place having kept a clean sheet and I doubt there will be too many changes to the team that beat West Ham although Sean Dyche has Matt Lowton available again after completing his one match suspension while Robbie Brady could be ready to return.

I think much will depend on whether he thinks Dwight McNeil is able to go again just three days on after playing his part in the win which included scoring the second goal. If so, I suspect it will be same again which is: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs from: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Ben Gibson, Ali Koiki, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra, Sam Vokes.

Huddersfield might be bottom of the league and they might have lost their last seven league games, but they will be a threat and if they perform anything like they did when they last won at Wolves then tonight will be a very difficult game for us. Aaron Mooy scored both goals in their 2-0 win at Molineux but he’s since picked up a long term injury and their record since has been a big disappointment although they certainly don’t get any hammerings and none of the defeats in this run has been by more than two goals.

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Suggestions are that David Wagner will stick to the team that lost at Fulham last Saturday. That team was: Jonas Lössl, Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Chris Löwe (pictured), Philip Billing, Jonathan Hogg, Florent Hadergjonaj, Erik Durm, Alex Pritchard, Steve Mounié. Subs: Ben Hamer, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Juninho Bacuna, Adama Diakhaby, Isaac Mbenza, Elias Kachunga, Laurent Depoitre.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

We kick off 2019 at Huddersfield while our last visit there was our last game of 2017 and it ended, as did the earlier home game against them, in a 0-0 draw.

This was a day when we really should have won. We were by far the better side throughout the game but couldn’t get that vital goal. We did have one disallowed and we did have penalty appeals turned down. The disallowing of the goal was the correct decision but the refusal of the penalty when Jeff Hendrick was brought down by goalkeeper Jonas Lössl. “No contact,” Paul Tierney cried more than once but it was as clear as anything from the far end of the ground and proved a major talking point after the game.

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Overall it was a really good performance from the Clarets that just lacked either a goal or a referee able to see the most blatant of fouls.

The teams were;

Huddersfield: Jonas Lössl, Scott Malone, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka, Florent Hadergjonaj (Tommy Smith ht), Jonathan Hogg, Aaron Mooy, Rajiv van La Parra, Tom Ince (Joe Lolley 55), Collin Quaner (Danny Williams 82), Laurent Depoitre. Subs not used: Joel Coleman, Michael Hefele, Martin Cranie, Steve Mounié.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, Jeff Hendrick (Sam Vokes 73), Ashley Barnes (Nahki Wells 81). Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Matt Lowton, Ashley Westwood, Dean Marney, Jon Walters.

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