Huddersfield’s tactics against West Ham

At the weekend, Huddersfield claimed a point off West Ham at the John Smith’s Stadium. I watched this game, and noticed several things about how the Terriers approached the match that I thought were very clever and helped them against West Ham. This post will take a tactical analysis of those few things, because neither side was

In the first half, Huddersfield seemed to have really learnt from their win against Fulham that getting at opposing defences is the way to get results. Against West Ham, they weren’t having trouble finding gaps in the defensive ranks, and I think West Ham’s set-up didn’t help them. The Hammers played with a 4-1-4-1 formation which allowed Huddersfield’s key attacking players, such as Alex Pritchard and Steve Mounie, to get in their faces and cause problems. They seemed up for battling and appeared to have the desire to build on their aforementioned win against Fulham which got their season going at last.

They really dominated the first half in terms of chances created, and to be brutally honest, they should have scored more than the one goal they did get through Alex Pritchard, which was worked together really nicely with the likes of Aaron Mooy, who was really good again, and captain Jonathan Hogg all involved in playing it through the West Ham defence. In hindsight, I think they will regret not scoring more, as in the second half their chances ceased to come as regularly, and the tables turned towards West Ham.

The Hammers seemed to decide that attacking had been at a premium in the first half, and Manuel Pellegrini introduced Javier Hernandez for academy graduate Grady Diangana, and this seemed to add a focal point to their offensive moves. However, Huddersfield had started the match with a wing-back system, which in attack allows teams to get more men forward because the full-backs cover the wide positions, so the wingers become more central and much more of a goal threat. But the Terriers used the defensive side of the 3-5-1-1 formation in the second half, allowing them to flatten their back line and their midfield line, and what that forced West Ham to do was to pass out wide and try and cross the ball in, and every time that happened Huddersfield had men in the box through their defensive ranks to clear the ball out and West Ham had to begin again.

However, it didn’t hold, as West Ham did get an equaliser through Felipe Anderson. This came after sustained pressure by the West Ham attack, even introducing another attacking player in Michail Antonio to help them even more in the final third, but ultimately Huddersfield defended really well aside from that moment, whilst still occasionally threatening with their own chances. The result showed that they do have their flaws and cave in once opponents just have that moment of quality to break them down, and they aren’t perfect, but I thought that they played well overall and deserved their point.

You could say that Huddersfield will rue losing two points from a winning position, but realistically I always expected West Ham to score at least once (I thought they might win to be honest), so I think Huddersfield will feel that they threw away three points but actually they did really well to hold onto one point, whereas West Ham will be disappointed with their first half performance, even through Huddersfield were very good at preventing them playing the way they wanted, but I think they will be relieved and perhaps happy to have taken a point from a difficult game.

One final point. For Huddersfield, that’s now four points from the last six available, and that is a big step in the right direction.

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