Huddersfield v Stoke: Keep pragmatic Potters onside

Huddersfield v Stoke
Saturday January 30, 15:00
Sky Sports

Huddersfield made to pay for defensive mistakes

Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan was left to rue a sloppy and damaging start on Tuesday night as his Terriers team gift-wrapped a two-goal lead for Bristol City at Ashton Gate inside the opening half hour. Despite a spirited and determined last hour, in which Town showed no shortage of effort or industry, the visitors were unable to pinch a share of the spoils.

Juninho Bacuna did sweep home Isaac Mbenza’s clever backheel in the second-half, one of a total of 27 shots at goal from Huddersfield. Indeed, Corberan’s charges hit the woodwork on four separate occasions, had another attempt cleared off the line, and saw a late Bacuna effort turned over the bar by a spectacular save as they failed to find a leveller.

The result means the Terries have now lost five successive games and a frustrated Corberan was left to bemoan his team’s defensive display, saying: “It is very difficult to win matches if you concede two goals through poor defending, as we did. We have the responsibility to do better and to change.” Meanwhile, Duane Holmes is in line for a second debut on Saturday.

Stoke lack clinical edge

Stoke were left kicking themselves after conspiring to lose 2-1 at home to Watford in their most recent Championship match, a game the out-of-rom Potters felt they should have won. Michael O’Neill‘s men couldn’t fashion the killer chance to find a breakthrough when on top – and were made to pay when conceding twice in a four-minute second-half spell.

First, Joe Bursik was punished for a foul on Joao Pedro and Troy Deeney smacked home the penalty. Then Ismaila Sarr raced in to finish after an excellent pass from Deeney. Stoke threw everything forward to try to get back into the encounter and Steven Fletcher made it possible when he finished from close range – but the Potters couldn’t find the vital second.

Injury-hit Stoke, who have struggled for goals since losing both Lee Gregory and top scorer Tyrese Campbell with knee problems, looked bright with Nick Powell leading the line. And O’Neill is hopeful of being able to partner the stand-in striker with Fletcher, who made his goalscoring return to the side off the bench as he continues his fight for full match fitness.

Stoke ran out 4-3 victories in a thrilling match-up when these two teams locked horns earlier in the campaign, as all seven goals arrived inside the opening hour. With the previous encounter against Huddersfield ending in a 5-2 success for the Potters, there’s hope that Saturday’s showdown will follow the same goal-heavy pattern at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Huddersfield 3.3512/5 head into Saturday’s clash on the back of five consecutive defeats, four of which were incurred in the Championship. Exclude the bottom-eight and the Terries have suffered 13 losses in 19 league games, and Town’s data process suggests Carlos Corberan’s charges have overperformed, conceding a league-high xG from open play average.

Stoke 2.447/5 have slipped five points off the play-off places having taken top honours just once since 5th December (W1-D6-L3). The draw specialists have shared the spoils in six of their most recent seven road trips and have posted W9-D10-L3 when excluding the top-three. Indeed, exclude sides below them in the standings and City have returned W6-D10-L1.

Collectively, Huddersfield and Stoke have seen only eight (31%) of their combined 26 respective home/away matches feature Over 2.5 Goals 2.1011/10 with just three of those contests producing four goals or more. The duo are delivering a shared 1.96 goals per-game across those 26 outings and so a relatively low-scoring showdown may unfold.

With that in mind, I’m keen to take the 1.728/11 available on Stoke Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals for Saturday’s match-up, with this selection proving profitable in 10 of the Potters’ 11 away days at teams outside of the top-three. The visitors have shipped only five goals in that 11-game sample, keeping a remarkable nine clean sheets in the process.

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