This Saturday, August 12th, Crystal Palace square off against Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park in their Premier League opener. Palace come into the season hoping to forget their flirt with relegation last season while Huddersfield are back in the top flight for the first time in 45 years and hope to survive the drop with a squad that many were surprised to see even qualify for the Championship playoff.
Summer Changes and New Beginnings
Huddersfield are many people’s favorites for relegation this season and come into the season with a unique philosophy of trying to survive in the Premier League with largely the same squad that they had through the Championship season last year. Rather than panic-buy Premier League veterans and journeymen to bolster their squad, Huddersfield have purchased many continental-based players. This goes along with the policy that German-American manager David Wagner has pursued in the Championship by searching for players from European leagues rather than English Football League veterans. Huddersfield brought back many of the players they had on loan last season to ensure a great degree of turnover from last season to this season.
Crystal Palace have brought in Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan from Chelsea and purchased Jairo Riedewald from Ajax. Other than those moves, the Eagles have not made any moves this summer. They, too, bring a squad similar to what opponents faced last year. However, after fans were disappointed by a mediocre performance from Palace last season despite exciting summer moves, they are expecting new boss Frank de Boer to turn things around.
How They Will Line Up
Huddersfield play with a flexible formation that utilizes high-pushing fullbacks on the wings, solid central midfielders, led by Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg, and dynamic attacking wingers that press their opponents. The strategy is reminiscent of Klopp’s tactics at Dortmund and now at Liverpool, and reflects much of the patterns that have been seen in the Bundesliga throughout the past 5 to 10 years. Wagner, Klopp’s best man, was the former Dortmund U19 coach, and will likely employ a strategy most similar to what Liverpool used last season, but with more fluidity to change shape.
Huddersfield will line up with a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation that will change shape in attack or defense. Jonathan Hogg and Aaron Mooy will feature in central midfield, gluing the field together and ready to cover on defense. The back four will feature Christopher Schindler and Michael Hefele, last year’s starters, in central defense with Tommy Smith, one of the Terrier’s main creative forces, at right back and Chris Löwe at left back. Jonas Lössl from Mainz will start in goal. Tom Ince or Danny Williams will likely start as an attacking midfielder, flanked by some combination of Elias Kachunga, Rajiv van la Parra, or maybe Sean Scannell on the wings. It will be interesting to see who starts at center forward, as Wagner has brought in two new strikers, Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounié, to complement Nahki Wells, last year’s starter. Will Wagner go with his tested man from last year, or will he play a newcomer?
Palace could line up in a 3-4-3, a common formation for new boss Frank de Boer in the Netherlands, or could line up more like we saw them last season. We will see many of the same players for them, with Wayne Hennessey in goal, Joel Ward and van Aanholt as fullbacks if they play four in the back, and Scott Dann in central defense. The second (or possibly third) central defender could be a newcomer or someone else already in the squad. Benteke will start as the striker, Zaha and Townsend will play on the wings, and Cabaye, Puncheon and Luka Milivojevic will play out of the midfield.
Playing at home with a familiar lineup against a newly promoted side, expect Crystal Palace to win this game 2-1. Huddersfield will have to wait to secure their first Premier League result later on in the season.