The last game of the first weekend of the Championship season takes places between two of the most intriguing teams in the division.
At their best, fans of both Huddersfield and Derby can hope for a charge at the title if things go well – even allowing for how impressive Leeds were yesterday – but if things don’t go to plan then both could find themselves out of the playoffs in such a competitive division.
Huddersfield’s Premier League campaign will go down as one of the worst in recent history – they earned just 16 points – but as a consequence, they had been preparing for relegation from well before the end of last season. New manager Jan Siewert was appointed with a Championship campaign in mind and he’s had a good summer in the transfer market, with headline signings Reece Brown, Josh Koroma and Tommy Elphick all coming into the squad and making the loan of Isaac Mbenza permanent was smart business.
It can sometimes be the case that relegated teams suffer fire sales but that hasn’t been the case at Huddersfield, who by and large have the majority of their squad from the Premier League (and the Championship season before that). This includes Christopher Schindler, Aaron Mooy, Johnathan Hogg, and Karlan Grant to boot, and that ought to give them confidence going forward.
Huddersfield Town v Derby County
19:45 Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD*
(Maximum 10 matches)
APR 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 1-1 Huddersfield
OCT 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Huddersfield 1-0 Derby
MAR 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 2-0 Huddersfield
OCT 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Huddersfield 1-2 Derby
APR 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Huddersfield 4-4 Derby
NOV 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 3-2 Huddersfield
APR 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 3-1 Huddersfield
DEC 2013 CHAMPIONSHIP Huddersfield 1-1 Derby
FEB 2013 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 3-0 Huddersfield
SEP 2012 CHAMPIONSHIP Huddersfield 1-0 Derby
First up for Derby, the good news. Frank Lampard may be gone, but they have had a significant upgrade in the shape of three-time Eredivisie winner Phillip Cocu in the managerial hotseat.
Now, the bad news. Cocu will be without three of the players who were central to Derby’s promotion assault. Harry Wilson, Mason Mount, and Fikayo Timori were three of the Championship’s best performers last season and the departure of all three leaves a huge hole. Mount and Wilson were responsible for 27 goals scored between them last season and whilst Matt Clarke and especially Krystian Bielik are good signings going forward one has to assume they’ll be weaker.
A bigger short term issue is a mini injury crisis. None of defender Craig Forsyth, Scott Carson, George Thorne, and Andre Wisdom will start and it’s not a certainty that Jack Mariott can lead the charge either.
This, along with home advantage, makes Huddersfield understandable favourites and 21/20 is fair, but Phillip Cocu could be aiming to focus on a tighter defence this season and it’s possible that both sides take time to warm up this season. The draw could be overpriced again at 9/4.
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