Aaron Mooy was making his way from the centre circle towards the Huddersfield Town supporters that had travelled to Molineux when the cameras began to follow him. Modest Mooy ushered them away, but despite his reticence they continued to pursue him.
It had been his day, his match as Huddersfield moved off the bottom of the table with an impressive performance against this season’s shiny newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers. This was Huddersfield’s best performance in the Premier League and their plaudits were earned and fully deserved.
Moving from 20th place to 14th is a big move and only highlights how tight things are towards the bottom of the Premier League table. But this was much more than just a jump up the table. This was Huddersfield’s third league match without defeat and for a team that have already lost seven this season, it only enhance the positive mood that is beginning to develop in West Yorkshire.
Tough task dealt with aplomb
Taking on a Wolves side that have captured many romantic’s hearts since entering the top flight with their highly-skilled and creative players, was far from an easy proposition for a team that are amongst the favourites to be relegated. On the day, however, one team were a level above their opponents, and it was not those tipped for a top 10 finish.
What Huddersfield exhibited, above the mandatory Yorkshire grit and determination that those travelling supporters demand, was a clear plan of how to limit their opponents strengths from shining through. Mooy was instrumental both with his two goals but also his effective management of the Huddersfield midfield who had the better of Wolves’ both in and out of possession.
Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves have been terrific so far this season, their inventiveness and thoughtfulness have led to many believing that they could fit into any midfield in the league. But against Huddersfield, they were left redundant, little more than spare parts. And that was down to the press that Mooy along with Philip Billing and Jonathan Hogg applied from the very start.
Mooy’s double took the game away from Wolves
Mooy’s first goal in the 6th minute came from clever Huddersfield play, as Erik Durm and Billing got the better off Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett on the left. Once the ball was pulled back, Mooy was there waiting on the edge of the Wolves area and ready to apply a low driven finish – he was one step ahead, as he was for most of the afternoon.
Huddersfield made life so uncomfortable for their hosts and it is a measure of their superiority that they could have easily added to their early lead. One aspect that was missing from the Terriers’ performance was clinicalness in the penalty area. They wracked up six attempts on target with a further eight going wide or over the crossbar.
There were free headers that could have been attacked with more conviction, or promising counter-attacks that were left to fade away. One football analyst said that “perfection for David Wagner would be 3-0 with Steve Mounie scoring”, that didn’t happen but so easily could have.
It was clear why Huddersfield had only managed six goals thus far this season, there was a nervousness in the final third that meant chances were wasted. The very fact that Mooy scored both of the match’s goals only exacerbates the point; his second being scored from a free-kick that was steered around a rather misshaped Wolves wall.
Pressing and inventiveness key for Huddersfield
Wolves have thrived in conjuring upsets this season as they had already taken points from both Manchester City and Manchester United, but here they were the ones left gasping. Jonas Lossl was relatively untroubled until deep into the second half as Raul Jimenez struggled to see much of the ball. Huddersfield dominated centrally and in wide areas; it seemed like they had more players on the pitch such was their energy and movement.
The hosts did create chances to at least apply some late pressure when Jimenez saw his header cleared off the goalline by the outstanding Billing, but despite Nuno Espitito Santo’s frustrated look, he could have little complaints with the result. Wolves’ ebb and flow that was detectable before Huddersfield took the lead, quickly dispersed and now with three consecutive home defeats they must rediscover the thrill and excitement that characterised their bright start to the season.
Huddersfield’s best Premier League performance?
The match did beg the question as to whether this was Huddersfield’s best display in their Premier League history – all 470 days of it. The fact that this was the first time in as many days that they have kept a clean sheet away from home in the league and the first time they have scored more than once in 23 matches does back up the point.
Beating Manchester United and drawing with Chelsea and Manchester City provided valuable points in Huddersfield’s fight for survival last season, but this result against a gifted Wolves team did seem more accomplished. Given their situation, the authority that they exhibited in possession was striking and their press was relentless.
In front of the lower Steve Bull stand, the Huddersfield supporters applauded back as their players, stood staring back at them. Mooy was surrounded by cameras, and then his teammates; his goals had sealed a comprehensive away performance for Huddersfield and added hope and confidence to their season.