Looking behind Huddersfield Town vs Middlesbrough

Huddersfield Town played host to Middlesbrough on Wednesday evening, drawing  0-0 in an energetic, if somewhat technically poor, match.

Here, we will take a look at some of the tactics employed by the two sides both currently battling at the wrong end of the table.

How did they start?

Manager Danny Cowley lined up his Huddersfield side in a 4-3-3 formation, played with a single pivot. The central defensive duo of Tommy Elphick and Christopher Schindler were flanked by Danny Simpson and Jaden Brown at right- and left-back respectively, the latter duo tasked with support the attacks on their respective sides.

Jonathan Hogg was the man that sat deepest of the central three, frequently dropping between the two central defenders when in possession in their own third as they looked to circulate the ball. Trevoh Chalobah and Lewis O'Brien were given licence to join in with attacks from deeper, whilst Elias Kachunga and Adama Diakhaby slightly wider than striker Karlan Grant. 

As for the visitors, they played in a 3-5-1-1 system. Dael Fry, Daniel Ayala and Ryan Shotton were the back three, with Jonny Howson and Marvin Johnson the men that were asked to support both offensively and defensively as wing-backs. Lewis Wing was the most central of their midfield trio, with George Saville and Paddy McNair offering energy and running from slightly wider positions. Finally, Marcus Tavernier operated just off target man Ashley Fletcher.

Boro look to press high

With the Terriers' will to keep the ball in their own defensive line before then making incisive passes through the opposition - something the home crowd had to be persuaded to be patient with several times by Cowley - Middlesbrough looked to commit men high up to put Huddersfield's backline under pressure to ensure they could not keep the ball with ease. 

Fletcher and Tavernier were the first line of the press, with Saville and McNair following behind to look to pen in Huddersfield defence. The two midfielders had clearly been told to harass Town's full-backs, wih left-sided Saville frequently on Simpson's toes, as was McNair with Brown.

With Hogg being the hosts' main ballplayer, they ensured they always had a man pressing aggressively on his back upon receiving to prevent him from turning and being able to utilise his fine range of passing to dictate play.

They were content for one of Elphick or Schindler - two players with a far inferior passing range to Hogg - to have the ball, as they, quite rightly, felt that they would be unable to hurt them with the ball in their own defensive third.

Huddy pace poses a threat

With the likes of seven-goal top-scorer Grant, Kachunga and Diakhaby in their side, Huddersfield were always going to look to utilise this speed in behind the Boro defence - and their set-up was aimed at doing just this.

Both Chalobah and O'Brien are adept at carrying the ball from deep - the latter in particular on tonight's display, giving a demonstration of why he is rated so highly at the Kirklees Stadium with a brilliant display of ball-carrying - breaking past Middlesbrough's midfield to try and play in slide balls down the side of the Boro defence. 

Especially in the second half, as the game became more stretched, the running threat in behind of Huddersfield's attack - even when Frazier Campbell was introduced in place of Diakhaby - was evident to see. However, Town's use of the ball in counter-attacks was not of sufficient quality to merit a goal.