Huddersfield Town vs Brentford

Competition: EFL Championship Matchday 39

Date: 03/04/2020

Score: 1-1

Ground: John Smith Stadium

5 Conclusions from the Game

1. O'Brien Masterclass.

If a neutral watching the game was told that the best player in the division this season was playing, they would be forgiven for saying it was Lewis O'Brien. The academy graduate put in his best performance of the season and he was pivotal in the draw. He didn't pull up trees if you were to look at his match statistics while on the ball, but as Carlos Coreberan illuded to in his post match press conference, his physical values were unmatched and you could see that in the pressing. His game management was also very good for someone who is only 22. Running and chasing the ball down in injury time and the yellow he took to slow the game down, showed a mature game. The goal was also a very composed finish, he could have easily blasted that over the bar, pulled it wide or take it onto his preferred left foot, but he perfectly hit it to 'wrong foot' Raya.

2. The Jury is still out on Duhaney.

Town exercised the option on his contract last summer, so this summer it is looking like the last chance saloon for the former Manchester City Academy product at Town. Starting out today on the right of a back four, Duhaney looked shaky to say the least, he struggled to hold his line and often would follow Sergi Canos. If he had been told to do so, then I would question that decision by the manager as it did expose a gaping hole in the back line. When Town switched to a back five on the hour, Demeaco looked a lot more confident in that right wing back role. It looked like there was a certain level of pressure taken off him. There were a couple of occasions where he drove forward into their third, one of which he was very unlucky not to score as he had opened a nice chance up for himself. It looks like he is a player that panics on the ball when he is the last man back, as seen when 5 minutes in, Canos had nicked the ball off him, only for him to saved by the referee calling a foul. It seems that he is not confident to drive with the ball from Town's half into the opposition half, but he seems so much more confident when driving into the opposition third, when already in the opposition half.
Looking at his stats, he completed 3/4 tackles, made 3 interceptions and 1 clearance, which makes him look handy, but my worry with him is his defensive positioning. Demeaco has been played as a right-sided centre back, central midfielder, right back and right wing-back. I think he suited best as a right wing-back, where he is a bit further up the pitch, while having that defensive cover behind him. If Town are to play a back 4 next season, then I would be inclined to let Duhaney go, but if we keep with this back 5, then I would like to see him stay one more year at least.

3. Changes to Town's shape throughout the game.

Town set up with a 4-2-3-1, with Hogg and Vallejo as the number 6s, then moving into a 4-1-4-1, then a 5-4-1 and finally a 5-3-2. Most interestingly, Fraizer Campbell was utilised as a number 10 or a number 8 during the game and it worked. I have been of the opinion that Campbell is better playing with another number 9 as he likes to do the defensive work, which is good, but he leaves a massive hole in the attack by doing so. It was unfortunate to see Vallejo leave so early on as I think we were robbed of seeing how well Town could play in a 4-2-3-1 under Corberan. I liked how Corberan was changing the shape to constantly give Brentford questions to answer.
I am not sure on which formation Corberan is most comfortable in playing, but it is clear to me that the formation that he chooses to start the game with is open to change to protect a lead or to try and change a game.

4. Town looked very organised.

28 goals and 9 assists this season for Ivan Toney and to say he blanked twice against Town this season is a testament to the way Town set up. Town looked solid at the back, with Keogh and Sarr defending brilliantly throughout, and while Town only had 39% possession, you felt that they were in control. Vallejo going off injured threw a spanner in the works for Town, but Town adapted well and while it looked like they lost a foothold when that happened, they stood strong and didn't role over. It is has been said that Town struggle to 'back up' a performance, but that is now 5 in a row unbeaten and Town are starting to look like they are regaining their identity.

5. Set Pieces remain to be an issue.

Forget whether it was a throw-in, or if Jansson handballed it, the fundamental issue remains, Town cannot defend a set-piece. Schofield is a keeper who struggles with crosses, corners and free-kicks and we stuggle to protect him. He has been bailed out by Sarr on a number of occasion including today, but after Sarr does this, we don't seem to react. Town seem to not know what they are doing defensively, which is strange when they are so organised in open play. What is worse is that no one seems to react to the second ball. This summer this needs to be addressed, because it is costing us. I think if we were competent at set-pieces and had a fully fit squad, then I think we could be in the play-offs this season.
Attacking we are not much better, I lost count of the number of times a set-piece failed to beat the first man. Isaac Mbenza is clearly our best set-piece taker, so it baffles me in a game where we were trying to play on the break, why you wouldn't play him. This is not a dig at Bacuna, as I remember even Aaron Mooy's was no better on a number of occasions, but we waste so many opportunities in offesnisve set pieces scenarios.

Town Team:

Starting 11: Ryan Schofield, Demeaco Duhaney, Richard Keogh, Naby Sarr, Pipa (59' Aaron Rowe), Lewis O'Brien, Alex Vallejo (23' Juninho Bacuna), Jonathan Hogg, Duane Holmes (59' Richard Stearman), Fraizer Campbell (81' Danny Ward), Yaya Sanogo
Subs: Joel Pereira, Richard Stearman, Aaron Rowe, Danny Ward, Juninho Bacuna, Isaac Mbeaza, Sorba Thomas, Rarmani Edmonds-Green, Scott High
Formation: 4231

Match Statistics

Huddersfield Town: Brentford:
xG (Expected Goals): 0.39 1.01
Possession %: 39 61
Total Shots: 3 15
On Target: 2 5
Tackles: 12 14
Pass Accuracy %: 66 78
Fouls: 18 15
Yellow Cards: 4 1
Red Cards: 0 0

Latest Articles: