Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City played out a scoreless draw which surprisingly did not compromise on the entertainment factor.
The game started in a scrappy manner, as neither side could grab a foothold early on. After just five minutes, Cardiff’s Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had a chance which was saved by Ben Hamer, but at a personal cost for both of them. Mendez-Laing, reinstated into the lineup, was taken off on a stretcher as he bore the brunt of the collision. Callum Paterson replaced the winger.
However, Hamer also suffered, and he was duly replaced by Jonas Lossl in goal. The home side dominated the ball and pressed Cardiff back who showcased a back six often while defending. Terence Kongolo and Adama Diakhaby provided flashes of excitement, but nothing more transpired. Huddersfield could not translate their possession into anything substantial and the tie was level at half-time.
The game’s first shot on target came from Harry Arter, and Steve Mounie followed it with one of his own on the other end, but both of them were to no avail. Shortly after, the game took a different turn as Huddersfield were reduced to ten men. Jonathan Hogg was sent off after a scuffle with Arter during a corner. Both of them pushed the other and Arter also received a card, but the colour was a kind one.
Sensing an opportunity, Cardiff upped their ante and substitute Danny Ward drew a sharp stop from Lossl. A few minutes later, Joe Ralls’ tempting delivery was headed wide by Sean Morrison which should have nestled in the net. As the game drew to its conclusion, both sides had openings but neither could capitalise.
It was arguably a fair result in hindsight as Huddersfield picked up their first point of the season in a close encounter.
Huddersfield need goals, and desperately
David Wagner’s side put in a gritty showing last season and managed to avoid relegation. This was due to their stubborn and organising defence which more than made up for their faltering attack.
Since the beginning of last season, Huddersfield have failed to score in 23 of their 41 league games, more than any other side during that period. Wagner has options like Steve Mounie, Laurent Depoitre and Elias Kachunga at his disposal, which is hardly encouraging for their cause.
Players aside, Wagner’s philosophy also places emphasis on defence which in turn limits their forays into the final third. If they are to stay in the Premier League they desperately need to put the ball in the back of the net. New signing Diakhaby showed promise but goal returns are mandatory. If they don’t transpire, they might as well be on their way to the Championship.
Cardiff lacking adventure and cutting edge in final third
Arguably Cardiff also needs what Huddersfield do, something which can be seen from the last two games. In both of them, their opponent had a man sent off and the opportunity was there to be taken. But the Bluebirds failed to seize it both the times and a point was the measly rewards each time.
Put it simply, a win is thrice as good as a draw but they won’t come for Neil Warnock easily. One really can’t slate him for his defensive approach, but the total lack of attacking endeavors is worrying. With all due respect, Newcastle and Huddersfield were there for the taking but Cardiff lacked the courage and adventure.
Warnock’s defensive organisation is certainly impressive, but he needs to complement that with some attacking threat to conjure up a working model in the league. Otherwise, an immediate drop is not out of the question. Remember what happened to Middlesbrough in 2017?
Wagner should make better use of Pritchard
Alex Pritchard was signed in January from Norwich City, and signs have been that he has been a shrewd investment. Capable of playing in a number of positions, the diminutive playmaker provides a spark in the Terriers’ attack, something which arguably only Aaron Mooy can do otherwise.
His dribbling and passing vision enable Huddersfield to make effective use of their limited attacks, especially against opponents who dominate possession. He did not feature today against Cardiff and one might wonder what might have been if he had played.
Wagner sorely lacked incisiveness in the final third and Pritchard is unquestionably the man for the task. Surely he can’t be benched on a regular basis, can he?
Man of the Match: Terence Kongolo
The Dutch full-back provided some spark on the left side whilst doing his defensive duties diligently as well. A rare eye-catching performance in a drab match. Certainly a player to watch in Huddersfield’s campaign.