Premier League new boys Huddersfield Town defied the odds to survive the drop and clinch a 16th place finish. In their first season The Terriers spent just 1 week in the bottom 3, which is incredible considering their modest budget and lack of players with top flight experience.
You have got to take your cap off to David Wagner, who has worked miracles at a club who had spent the previous 45 years in the lower leagues. Wagner built on the promotion winning season by adding a mixture of top Championship players and little known European imports to secure another season in the promised land.
When the going got tough during the later part of the campaign, the former Dortmund coach cleverly changed his system to a 3-5-2 formation, to achieve impressive draws in away battles against Man City and Chelsea. Although survival will once again be the target, ambitious Wagner will be keen to build on last season and secure a more comfortable league table position.
Huddersfield like to get their transfer business done early in the window to help the players bond and avoid the scramble on deadline day. Wagner was quick to smash Huddersfield’s transfer record by spending 18 million to permanently add loanee Dutch defender Terence Kongolo. Other new faces include German World Cup winner Erik Durm from Dortmund, Egyptian international Ramadan Sobhi from Stoke and French under 21 starlet Adama Diakhaby who follows Kongolo from Monaco.
STAR MAN – Christopher Schindler (£4.5m)
Whilst the midfield and attacking players are often rotated, Wagner likes stability in his central pairing at the back. Defensive rock Schindler put in some assured displays last season contributing towards 9 clean sheets. After an amazing 3 clean sheets in their opening 3 league games, the Huddersfield Town defence took a pounding during the winter months. However, the loan signing of Kongolo helped shore up the leaky back line. This lead to Town conceding just 14 goals in their final 13 league games of the season. This statistic is particularly impressive when you take into consideration that 5 of these games were against top 6 opponents.
The addition of versatile Erik Durm should further strengthen a defence, in which Schindler is the first name on the team sheet. As well as keeping things tight at the back, Schindler frequently ventures forward for set pieces, earning 2 assists last season and providing a regular goal threat. His price of just £4.5 million makes him a good purchase for players looking for a cheaper option at the back.
HIDDEN GEM – Ramadan Sobhi (£5.0m)
Egyptian Sobhi was a disappointment last season as he struggled to hold down a place in a poor Stoke side. Contributing just 2 goals and a solitary assist, it was a season to forget for the player who arrived at The Potters with such high hopes.
However, Wagner has a history of turning water into wine. Players including Van La Parra, Hadergjonaj, Lossl and Depoitre made huge contributions at Huddersfield after poor seasons at their former clubs. The German Messiah clearly sees something in the young Egyptian. Sobhi, dubbed “The Egyptian Messi”, was once recommended to Jose Mourinho by Martin Jol, who believed he would one day be good enough to play for Manchester United.
This one is very much a punt at £5 million but at just 21 years old there is potentially a breakthrough season just around the corner. We should also consider that he played under 2 of the most negative managers in the league at his time at Stoke in Mark Hughes and Paul Lambert. Under Wagner, the tricky winger should get more freedom on the ball. This makes Ramadan Sobhi one to watch in the early part of the season if he gets minutes for David Wagner’s side.
BARGAIN – Jonas Lossl (£4.5m)
Many Town fans were underwhelmed when Lossl was signed on loan at the beginning of last season. He arrived off the back of a terrible season at Mainz 05, where he was dropped after a poor run and the team finished just outside of the Bundesliga relegation places. However, after a couple of early season blunders, Lossl got better and better as the season went on. Key saves in the run in helped secure survival and earn him a permanent transfer.
His displays between the sticks helped him amass an impressive 135 points last season, the highest points total for any Huddersfield Town player. In his second Premier League season playing behind an improved defence I can only see Lossl eclipsing last season’s points total. Priced at just £4.5 million, this could make Jonas Lossl an absolute steal for your FPL team.
PREDICTED LINE UP
Durm – Zanka – Schindler – Kongolo
Hogg – Mooy
Diakhaby – Pritchard – Sobhi
Written by HTFC Dooks (@HTFCdooks)