PREVIEW

Great news. Those people who were predicting 19th - Huddersfield Town are only 37 games away from their predictions being bob on.

As thousands of armchair pundits continue to say Huddersfield are getting relegated, after a defeat to a club bankrolled by a Russian billionaire with less than reputable links to the Kremlin and who spent more money on Jorginho than we did on our entire squad this season, Town fans who just want to enjoy their football are looking ahead to Cardiff at home next week, rather than Man City this weekend.

The big question for Town will who will be in net. David Wagner surprised us in starting Ben Hamer and claiming Jonas Loessl wasn't up to speed yet. It certainly created a bit of debate, as we had on our podcast this week, but that's what happens when you have genuine competition for places and Hamer didn't let Town down last weekend.

The real question will be who is number one choice in the long run, something which was analysed on the Thrice Champions blog this week too.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola's Man City, who broke a fair few records last season, looked imperious against Arsenal last weekend and have strengthened their squad since last season too. Being without David Silva and leaving the likes of Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne on the bench is not only scary but frustrating if you're a fantasy football player. 

Luckily for Town and unluckily for City, De Bruyne sustained an injury in training this week meaning he is out for around three months and with Silva being out still, City are down to the teenage wonder kid talent of Phil Foden, scary.

Town too have injury worries with Zanka out for the City match and Jonny Hogg a doubt, two key players, especially if Wagner persists with his 5-3-2/5-4-1 hybrid. Hopefully, this may force Town into player a more positive 4-5-1 which stifled Man City at home last season and caused Man Utd a whole heap of problems in that famous win. 

Many Town fans though are only looking at these first two games as bonus points. It's unlikely we will be able to compete, although those bonus points last season is what saw us stay up. That attitude also probably explains why tickets haven't been selling for Sunday's game and the fact it's live on Sky. So much for the faux outrage over loyalty points.

Speaking of faux outrage, we've had a fair bit of it this week, kicking off with broadsheet, The Times. Their fashion editor Harriet Walker gave us this quote as she reviewed the new seasons football shirts. (Anything for content!)

I’m from the north and even I’m not quite sure where Huddersfield is or what happens there. They’re the shirts of a team who aren’t convinced they’ll be around much longer.

Well if that's controversial for clicks, it  certainly worked. Even this mug wasted one of his free Times articles on that fluff piece. Sadly, I really couldn't care less what some Fashion Editor thinks about the kit, my hometown and whether or not we're going to stay up or not. Yet a fashion editor not knowing about one of the textiles industries biggest exporters, now that really grinds my gears. If anything it shows up the poor state of our education system since an Oxbridge graduate can't even place where Huddersfield is on a map. No wonder the north is being left behind all of our trains are crap. Northern Powerhouse, my arse!

Oops, I just made a cardinal sin. I brought politics into football. Well that's what two teenagers on Twitter demanded shouldn't happen in another faux outrage over a three year old flag, while inadvertently bringing their own politics into the equation, irony. I too was outraged over flag-gate and politics in the stadium and rang up the club to complain about two lads who wore Maggie Thatcher masks against Barnsley five years ago, I demanded they should be banned for life (didn't happen, far too lazy). The reality is though, there are two words for anyone who says there should be no politics in football. Safe standing.

The final bit of faux outrage comes from Radio Leeds, who rather than have Town only post match reaction on DAB radio, decided to split post-match reaction between all three West Yorkshire clubs. If you're me though, you won't listen to post-match reaction on a Saturday and you'll most likely be in the pub drowning your sorrows. Anyway, I won't have a bad word said about Radio Leeds, who kindly invited us to take part in their Huddersfield Town special on Wednesday. And if they want us to present it in the future, we'd be more than happy to. 

Well. that was the week and if you're easily offended and outraged, then the prediction from the Man City fan below will probably finish you off. 

KNOW THE ENEMY

As was said last week, enemy may be a bit strong but throughout this season, Thrice Champions will be getting the views of opposition fans, bloggers and podcasters so you know the story behind the club they know so much about. Take note Paul Merson.

Ahead of our fist away fixture of the 2018/19 season, we spoke to Man City podcast, Noisy Neighbours. (They must be good, Johnny Marr follows them!)

TC: After a dominant season last time out, Pep has strengthened the squad even further. What do you think this squad can achieve this season?

NN: Last season was just incredible. We broke so many records, we couldn’t possibly match that again.  Priority number one should be to retain the Premier League title, but is that the club’s priority? Could it be the Champions League? We’ll see.  What can we achieve? Anything is possible with this manager!

TC: With the big addition of Riyad Mahrez being the highlight, how do you feel the transfer window has gone for you?

NN: It was always going to be quiet for us in terms of quantity, last summer was the big one.  We made the side much younger which was overdue, especially at full back. Mahrez is top Premier League quality. He gives us serious depth in the forward areas. He clearly wanted to be a City player which is paramount for Guardiola. Recent transfer sagas such as Alexis Sanchez seem to support this.  

Not bringing in cover at DM for Fernandinho is a real worry.  Word is that there are less than 5 players in Europe who Pep rates in that role, and they are difficult to pinch.  

TC: City missed out on Fred and Jorginho this summer, is the centre of midfield one area teams may exploit as the season goes on?

NN: If Fernandinho is out for any length, we don’t have a like for like replacement. Against teams who sit back, we think we’ve got cover in Gundogan and Delph. Against progressive, expansive sides, no Fernandinho means trouble for City. If our build up play is not slick, we’ll find ourselves under tons of pressure. This is probably Pep’s number one tactical challenge this season.

TC: City's youngsters impressed in pre-season. Who bar Phil Foden could make the grade?

NN: The thing with City’s best youngsters, including Foden, is that they are sooooo young.  Our best prospects are 17 and 18 years old. To get into a side with City’s quality, at that age, would be some achievement.  The player that caught the eye during the pre-season tour of America was central defender Eric Garcia. Garcia is an ex-Barcelona academy player, still only 17.  The lad has amazing composure and is one to watch for sure.

TC: How many times will City fans mention the 10-1 win in the run up to this game?

NN: To be fair, there wasn’t a long list of highlights pre-takeover at Man City, but as fans since the late Seventies the 10-1 was about as good as it got for us  We will warn you against the old “Where were you when you were sh*t?” banter though, as you might not enjoy the retort

TC: It's nearly 20 years since both clubs were competing at the top of Division One, what have you made to the rise of Huddersfield Town?

NN: Phenomenal.  As a club who also did the “There And Back Again”, long-time City fans will know the true test of loyalty that a long swim through the lower divisions brings. Of course we’ve won the lottery and everything’s changed for us now, but that core support, the fans who went up and down without hesitation, deserve everything.  It’s the same at Huddersfield. Congratulations to you, and long may you stay. We are big fans of your manager on our podcast. Also know that the Terriers are well represented at our local pub in Dallas, Texas. It’s just one bloke, mind, but he’s louder than the gaggle of Chelsea fans in there

TC: What is your prediction for Sunday?

NN: Well in the same fixture last season, Huddersfield were excellent in defending against a pretty potent City side.  City should dominate the ball, and will hope to get in behind. Huddersfield will likely sit back and try to close as much space as possible and hit on the break. Watch for Benjamin Mendy to have a big influence on City’s attack.  We’ll say 3-1 City.

TC: Should I keep Aguero as my captain in FPL?

NN: What a player.  Difficult to say on his fantasy value though, as City spread the goals about quite well.  Against a high line he is deadly, but look for the wingers to get City’s goals against deep defending.

TC: How much will you miss Kevin De Bruyne. Who will take his place in the side?

NN:  It's a horrible blow.  He’s undoubtedly one of the top midfielders in Europe.  But this is where City’s depth should really carry us. We imagine David Silva will return to the side and play alongside the other Silva (Bernardo) with Fernandinho or Gundogan behind them.  Over the course of the next couple of months, we’d love to see Phil Foden get a run as well.

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