Huddersfield Town are set to kick off their first-ever season in the Premier League with a trip to Crystal Palace.
The Terriers secured promotion to the English top-flight for the first time in 45 years after overcoming Reading in the Championship play-off final in May.
Manager David Wagner has brought in nine new signings so far this summer to give his side a fighting chance against the big boys but many pundits and news outlets have tipped the West Yorkshire side to head straight back down to the second-tier.
It is rather déjà vu for Huddersfield as some suggested they would struggle in the Championship at the start of last season but the Terriers upset the status quo by doing better than anyone expected.
Newly-appointed club captain Tommy Smith even said Town are “more than happy to be written off”.
Tommy Smith is fit to start
Goalkeeper – Jonas Lossl: will likely make his competitive debut in goal for Huddersfield. The Denmark international joined from German side Mainz on loan for the season in June after a return of Liverpool’s Danny Ward was looking unlikely. The 6ft 5ins stopper only joined the Opel Arena side last summer from French outfit Guingamp but had an indifferent campaign in Germany conceding 46 goals in 27 appearances. Lossl, who made his name at FC Midtjylland, has featured in all the pre-season games for the Terriers and appears to have a new lease of life under Wagner.
Right-back – Tommy Smith: the newly-appointed club captain has only returned to pre-season recently after sustaining a foot injury in the play-off final win over Reading. With Martin Cranie out injured for around eight weeks, the news that Smith is fully fit will be a massive boost to Huddersfield. The 25-year-old was one of Town’s star performers last season, scoring four goals and creating a further eight, and was a contender of player of the year. His partnership with Elias Kachunga was excellent and his overlapping and underlapping runs created an overload on the opposition’s defence. Wagner has talked up Smith’s potential from the beginning of his tenure and it was no surprise that the German gave him the armband after Mark Hudson announced his retirement.
Centre-back – Mathias Jorgensen: the 27-year-old Dane put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal with the Terriers after joining from FC Copenhagen, where he was a five-time Danish league winner. The Denmark international, who once had a trial with Arsenal as a teenager, scored 16 goals in 269 appearances for Copenhagen across two spells either side of a brief period at PSV Eindhoven. A defender known for his speed but also likes to get in the faces of the opposition, it will be interesting to see how he does and how well he adapts to the Premier League.
Centre-back – Christopher Schindler: the Wembley penalty hero will more than likely keep his place as left centre-back. Joining last season for a then-club record fee from 1860 Munich, the former Germany Under-21 international scored twice in 48 appearances last season and was a rock at the heart of the defence. So cool and composed with the ability to read the game and intercept the pass, Schindler won’t look out of place playing in the English top-flight.
Left-back – Chris Löwe: despite signing Scott Malone from Fulham for around £5million this summer, I suspect Wagner will keep his trusted Chris Löwe at left-back. Joining on a free transfer from Kaiserslautern in May 2016, the 28-year-old scored twice and created another three in 45 appearances last season for Town. Like Smith, Löwe likes to get forward to create an overload in the attack and struck up a partnership with Rajiv van La Parra down the left side last season. An astute penalty taker and known in Germany for his set-pieces, Löwe could be a useful addition to your fantasy football team.
Danny Williams will likely replace Jonathan Hogg
Central-midfielder – Aaron Mooy: An integral part to the way Huddersfield played last season, Mooy returned to the John Smith’s Stadium on a permanent basis after a loan spell from Manchester City. The Australia international scooped the club’s player of the season award for the 2016/17 campaign after scoring four goals and creating a further ten in 51 appearances in all competitions. His partnership with Jonathan Hogg was so effective for the Terriers as they won promotion and they complemented each other’s game with the latter doing the graft to give the ball to Mooy. Although not the quickest of players, the midfielder is so composed on the ball, reads the game excellently and has the vision to spot a pass.
Central-midfielder – Danny Williams: with the injury to Hogg, I suspect Williams will slot in his place alongside Mooy in central midfield. A shrewd free signing from Reading in the close season, the USA international scored 14 goals in 156 appearances across a four-year spell with the Royals. Williams was a key player in Jaap Stam’s side that finished 3rd in the Championship last season and was arguably their best player in the play-off final against Huddersfield. Williams is more attack-minded than Hogg but both players had similar qualities.
Tom Ince has been on fire during pre-season
Right-wing – Elias Kachunga: The Democratic Republic of Congo international was Huddersfield’s top scorer with 13 goals last season after originally joining on loan from FC Ingolstadt in June 2016 and fans were delighted when the move was turned to a permanent one in March for just £1.1m. The 25-year-old was a constant thorn and had a knack of arriving at the far post right on que to stick one in the back of the net. Despite being just 5ft 8ins, Kachunga is good the air with an excellent leap so his knack of getting goals at crucial times could be key for Huddersfield this season.
Attacking midfielder – Kasey Palmer: The 20-year-old has returned for another season-long loan from Chelsea this summer after a successful first spell with the Terriers. Palmer scored five goals in 27 appearances for Town but injury cut short his season although he returned for the play-off final. The England U21 international is a quick and skilful player with an eye for a pass, his support for the lone striker will be a key component in Wagner’s plan this season and I’m sure Chelsea will be watching to see how the youngster handles playing in the Premier League.
Left wing – Tom Ince: After somewhat unsuccessful spells in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and Hull City, Wagner has taken a pun on Tom Ince after a few years of excelling at Derby County. You could argue the 25-year-old hasn’t been given a fair crack at the top-flight but why no one has taken the plunge on the former England U21 international is a mystery considering how many years he was outstanding in the Championship with the likes of Derby and Blackpool. Another’s loss could be Huddersfield’s gain and the early signs look encouraging with four goals from seven games in pre-season. A speedy and tricky winger with an eye for goal, Ince could prove a canny purchase for Town.
Striker – Steve Mounié: Huddersfield’s record-signing at £11.5m, the Benin international scored 14 goals for Montpellier in Ligue 1 last season – just one less than sought-after Monaco wonderkid Kylian Mbappé. Mounié on the surface appears another shrewd move by Wagner. Described as an all-round striker, the 22-year-old looks dominant in the air with an average of 8.3 successful aerial duals per game during the 2016/17 campaign which was more than any other player in the French top-flight. That was something that Huddersfield lacked last season and with his pace and finishing, he could prove something of a coup if given the ammunition.