After 10 games, plenty of fans and pundits alike would have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Huddersfield Town were sitting at the top of the Championship table, and they showed no signs of budging.
A dip in form followed though, as Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion began to break away, while David Wagner’s men looked to be sliding back down the table. In fact, a run of form which saw them pick up just six points from a possible 27 between October and early December saw them fall to as low as eighth in the table, some 10 points off the league leaders.
But the German boss has rallied his troops once again, and they’ve since lost just one league game since December 3. That form has seen them climb back up to third in the division, and since that date, no side in the top four tiers of English football have picked up more points than the Terriers.
Points, not statistics, win prizes
They’re not scoring goals at an especially remarkable rate, but they’re getting the job done. In fact, they’re not performing remarkably in any specific area of the pitch.
Six teams boast a better goal difference in the Championship, 11 have scored more, five have conceded fewer and 12 have kept more clean sheets.
So what exactly is the secret to Huddersfield’s success?
It’s all to do with timing.
This is a perfect example of how goal, shot-conversion, pass completion or any manner of other statistics don’t really count for much at times.
What’s important is getting points on the board, and that’s exactly what the Terriers are doing right now.
The gap between themselves and seventh-placed Norwich City is 13 points, and without jumping the gun, there’d need to be a huge catastrophe were Huddersfield to finish outside a play-off spot.
But their hopes of achieving promotion shouldn’t solely rest on a trip to Wembley at the end of the season. They should be aiming much higher than that.
Brighton have been vulnerable at the business end of campaigns
While Brighton have proven a tough nut to crack for the majority of the year, they have a worrying habit of crumbling towards the business end of the campaign. And they’ve hardly been convincing in their last five matches, winning just two and losing one to – you guessed it – Huddersfield.
They also relied on a last minute equaliser in one of those games against Brentford, too. And it’s not beyond the realms of imagination to see them dropping even more points in their next two outings against high-fliers Reading and league leaders Newcastle.
Huddersfield’s next two fixtures are certainly winnable though. They travel to Barnsley on Saturday, a side who they defeated 2-1 earlier in the season, before facing Newcastle themselves in what’s arguably their biggest game of the season so far.
They could potentially be heading into that fixture knowing that a win could see them overtake Brighton in second spot.
Were they to do just that, they’d take some shifting in the final 11 games of the season.
Reckon they’ve got a chance? Click here to get on the 11/4 for them going up automatically.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing