Huddersfield Town vs Burnley Preview: Two of 2017's surprise packages meet as the year draws to a close

Huddersfield Town vs Burnley Preview: Two of 2017's surprise packages meet as the year draws to a close

Both sides were tipped by many to be in a relegation battle this season but are currently comfortable in mid-table.

Chris Lincoln

Roll back four months and this contest may have been tipped as a key match in the 2017-18 Premier League relegation battle. Yet both sides have made remarkable starts to the season and Huddersfield Town host Burnley whilst 11th in the league, four places below their visitors who have formulated a fairytale opening to the campaign.

Goals could be few and far between

Burnley have been particularly impressive away from home, losing just two of their ten contests and picking up 16 points in the process. Only Manchester City and Chelsea have conceded fewer goals than the Clarets on the road which could be a concern to goal-shy Huddersfield.

The Terriers have scored ten in ten at John Smith's Stadium, more than only four other sides in the Premier League, including Burnley. However, they have scored the first goal in seven of those home ties, second only to Manchester City in that respect.

Yet Huddersfield are undefeated in their last three, picking up five points across the festive period. Meanwhile, have failed to win in the same period, drawing two and losing one in their longest run without a victory this season.

Burnley have enjoyed recent meetings with their hosts

However, Burnley do have a better record against their opponents in recent years. The sides played out a goalless draw at the start of the season but that is the only point Huddersfield have picked up in their last four meetings with the Clarets.

After a decade without meeting, Huddersfield won three consecutive contests with Burnley between 2012 and 2013. However, they are the Terriers' only victories in their last 20 contests with Burnley since 1971. Their last home tie against Sean Dyche's side saw them lose 3-1 in a Championship fixture during the 2015-16 season.

Depoitre and Barnes in good form

Aaron Mooy will be a key player for the hosts with only 18 players making more passes than his 1,087 so far this season. He also ranks fifth in the league for number of tackles, currently sitting behind Wilfred Ndidi, Idrissa Gueye, Pablo Zabaleta and N'golo Kante.

Mooy and his midfield colleagues will be looking to create chances for Laurent Depoitre who is in great form. The Belgian striker has scored three and created one in his last two starts and two substitute appearances.

Burnley will be looking to Johann Berg Gudmundsson to produce the creative spark with five assists to his name this season. His colleague, Ashley Barnes, has scored two in his last four and 50% of his Premier League goals have come in the month of December.

Both teams have a number of injury problems going into the contest. Jon Stankovic, Philip Billing, Elias Kachunga and Michael Hefele are all missing for David Wagner's side, whilst Sean Dyche is without Tom Heaton, Robbie Brady, Chris Wood, Stephen Ward and James Tarkowski with the latter proving to be a huge miss.