Huddersfield Town will ply their trade in the second tier of English football next season after a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace and results elsewhere going against them means the Terriers have succumbed to the pressure of Premier League football before the end of March.
They started off on the right foot, and the Palace goal was living a charmed life as a string of saves from Palace goalkeeper Vincente Guaita preserved the home side’s tenuous clean sheet. Hodgson’s men grew into the game and had great chances of their own but a combination of stops by Terriers’ keeper Ben Hamer and blocks from the Huddersfield backline meant that the sides were level when the halftime whistle blew.
The deadline wasn’t broken until the 76th minute when Juninho Bacuna was adjudged to have fouled Wilfried Zaha in the box for a penalty – the resulting spotkick was duly dispatched by Palace captain Luka Milivojevic to give Hodgson’s side a 1-0 lead at Selhurst Park.
Both sides went looking for the next goal, as news of events elsewhere was circling around the fans. Unfortunately for the visiting supporters, it was the club from South London that got the next and ultimately last goal of the game. Palace left-back Patrick van Aanholt received the ball from Zaha inside the box and rifled the ball past a helpless Hamer from 12 yards to consign the visitors to a fourth straight defeat.
Palace now move up to 13th place in the league, and more importantly eight points away from 18th placed Cardiff City with only six more games to play. Huddersfield’s target now is to try and not finish bottom as they are still only three points behind Fulham who suffered their eighth defeat in a row at the hands of the champions Manchester City. The West London side do have a better run into the the end of the season, but with better performances, the Terriers will be looking to finish the season above the foot of the table.
Huddersfield’s unwanted record
After what seemed like months of inevitability, Huddersfield Town have officially been relegated from the Premier League. After suffering their 24th loss of the season, along with victories for Southampton and Burnley, the Terriers have been consigned to life back in the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.
To make matters worse, in the process they have equalled a Premier League record of the earliest relegation, sharing the record with Ipswich Town (1994/95) and Derby County (2007/08). The Ipswich relegation did come in a season where there was still 42 games played, rather than the 38 currently played.
Fortunately, with 14 points, they have already surpassed the record for lowest points in a Premier League of 11, also held by Paul Jewell’s Rams side. They could rival them for lowest goals scored though, which is one of the main reasons Huddersfield are in the position they are, having failed to score in 54.3% of all their Premier League games (a record high percentage).
Not proficient scorers in their debut season in 2017/18 with only 28 (joint lowest that season with Swansea City), but with only 18 so far this campaign and with a goals per game ratio of 0.56, it will be close.
Derby County notched up a record low of 20 goals in their record breaking season, and if the Terriers’ current scoring rate in front of goal continues then they’ll finish on 21. However, maybe with the pressure of survival off their shoulders, it will free them up to be scoring more regularly.
No Summer of Uncertainty
Although it is a day no Terriers fan would have wanted to experience, it certainly was not one that has taken anyone by surprise. It has been something that many have expected since the early parts of the season, but with that comes early preparations.
When a team is relegated on the last day of the season, especially when not expected to, it can throw their summer into a whirlwind of uncertainty. Questions always arise about the manager’s position, what will happen to some of the big names, and how the club will adapt to life in the second tier.
Not for Huddersfield though. With relegation coming so early on, they are now in a position where they have six weeks of preparation time, even before the final game against Southampton. Time they can use to sort out the financial side, when the Premier League television rights dry up, what players they can offload in the summer to get the wage bill down, and even potential targets to replace them. There shouldn’t be any questions over Jan Siewert’s position, as his main goal when taking on the job was probably that of bringing them back up next season. Strangely, an early relegation could have been the best thing for the future of the club; the last home game against Manchester United should make for a great atmosphere.
Palace’s Hat-Trick of Relegations
This is not unfamiliar circumstances for Palace, having been the ones to put the final nail in the coffin for two other sides in the seasons prior to the current campaign. Last season it was a comeback 2-1 victory away at Stoke City that consigned the Potters to relegation on the last Saturday of the season, thanks to goals from James McArthur and van Aanholt.
The season before was more convincing with a 4-0 home win over a Hull City side that would concede 11 goals in their bid for survival over the final two weeks of the season.
In the 4-0 drumming were goals from Zaha, Benteke, as well as the two scorers from today’s game, Milivojevic and van Aanholt. Now, you may have noticed that the Dutchman appeared on the scoresheet of all three of these games. In fact, not only have Palace effectively relegated a side in each of the last three seasons, but van Aanholt has been the final goalscorer in each and every one of them, and the fact that it is only his second goal of the season shows that he is an expert in being a ruthless executioner of teams’ Premier League lives.
Palace Win at Home?
Although the relegation of the Terriers may have been expected at some point, what can be seen as more of a surprise is that of a Palace home win; one of only four so far this season, with the other three coming against Burnley, Leicester City, and Fulham. Selhurst Park was just the right place Huddersfield needed to go to fight for survival, a stadium that housed the second worst home record of the season. Unfortunately for them they had the second worst away record going into the game.
If the Eagles are to move up and progress from a side fighting relegation each season, it’s at home where improvements need to be made. Different tactics or formations for when they are the team expected to hold the ball most of the time are things that need to be implemented, as only four victories is not what the Selhurst Park faithful deserve to be seeing.
The win included yet another Milivojevic penalty, his 9th in the league this season alone. The Serbian is now in search of his own record of most penalties scored in a single season, with Steven Gerrard’s 10 next up in his sights. The Palace captain has also moved to 3rd in the South London club’s all-time Premier League goalscorers charts with 22 goals, sitting just behind Chris Armstrong (23) and current teammate Wilfried Zaha (30).
Palace off to The Lane
Next up for Palace is another away fixture, but not any old away trip. They will now take part in the first competitive game at the new home of Tottenham Hotspur, as they finally move back to White Hart Lane from their temporary lodgings at Wembley Stadium. It is a day that the Spurs fans have been waiting for for far too long, and Palace have the opportunity to make history at their expense.
The recent record doesn’t bode well for the Eagles becoming the first team to win in the new White Hart Lane, as they’ve lost the last seven league meetings between the two. However, they could consider themselves unfortunate in most of those games as six of those games have ended by a narrow 1-0 scoreline. The Eagles can draw confidence however from their last meeting with the Lilywhites, a 2-0 home win in the FA Cup in January. History awaits for Crystal Palace, and they will only have to wait a few days to write it.