A Tuesday night at home, under the floodlights, with promotion inching closer. How good would it be to have Carrow Road packed to the rafters for this one?
Sadly, we’re still a few months away from such lofty ambitions of normality, but as the potential for such activities gets closer and closer, so does the “promised land ™” of the Premier League. And a win against Huddersfield on Tuesday would go a long way to achieving that ambition.
As Brentford will no doubt attest though, beating Huddersfield doesn’t just happen.
Carlos Corberan has had a disappointing first season at the John Smith’s Stadium. Terriers fans will no doubt be hoping that, like Daniel Farke, Corberan is using his first season to instil his tactics into the side and change the culture behind the scenes ready to have a proper go next year.
Currently, they lie in 18th but with wins over Middlesbrough, Watford and Swansea this season, coupled with Saturday’s draw at Brentford, they do seem to enjoy playing against the better sides in the division.
Tactically, Corberan has used multiple formations as he searches for answers within his ranks. Usually, he opts for three at the back with a bank of at least four across the middle including wing-backs, with the remaining spots taken by various combinations of strikers and attacking midfielders.
However, we’ve seen sides alter tactically on many occasions when they come to Carrow Road, so anything is possible.
Youngster Ryan Schofield currently has the gloves and looks a reasonably solid lad and a decent shot stopper.
In the absence of injured captain Christopher Schindler, aged ex-Derby plodder Richard Keogh has lined up with a variety of partners, with Senegalese giant Naby Sarr, 22-year-old academy product Rarmani Edmonds-Green, and journeyman and renowned horrible t**t Richard Stearman his most frequent partners.
Sarr and Keogh can both be a massive threat from set-pieces, but defensively they should both be vulnerable to Pukki’s pace and movement.
At wing-back, Pipa, an expensive purchase from Espanyol, has pace to burn and can play either side. Harry Toffolo, ex of this parish, and one of Huddersfield’s best players, has been conspicuous by his recent absence due to injury.
Demeaco Duhaney is a young right-back who came through Man City’s academy before joining Huddersfield and has been the beneficiary of Toffolo’s absence. Between he and Pipa, there is plenty of pace on the flanks, albeit Corberan tends to use them conservatively rather than with the abandon that Farke employs his own full-backs.
In defensive midfield, Alex Vallejo is an anchorman who can also play centre-back and he is most likely to partner club stalwart Jonathan Hogg, who is the water carrier that takes the ball off the defence and gets it moving forward.
Other options in the centre of the park would be Juninho Bacuna, who can play in a variety of roles from right-back to centre midfield, to right-wing, and is an experienced and technically able player, or Lewis O’Brien, who in many ways is the left-sided version of Bacuna, fitting in at many positions, albeit with a bit less skill and a bit more reliance on lung power.
In attacking midfield, former Derby starlet Duane Holmes is doing his shuffly, dribbly thing and alternating between good, wasteful and invisible, but on his day he can be a real threat. He will usually be accompanied by Bacuna or O’Brien. Alex Pritchard is still around but nowhere near the first team as he’s currently still searching Yorkshire for the grass that was greener than that which he had in Norfolk.
Forward options are Isaac Mbenza – a pacy Belgian who usually offers a wide forward option when they play with a front three – former Arsenal reject Yaya Sonogo, who they picked up for free in February, former Everton reject Oumar Niasse, who they picked up for a free in March, and Frazier Campbell, who always seems to save a worldy for when he plays Norwich, so there’s that to look forward to.
On paper, Huddersfield are one of the weaker squads in the division, and are on the cusp of the relegation places. Corberan’s vision for the team is yet to emerge and the fact that they reached for two free agent strikers on short-term contracts in February and March tells you how the long-term planning is going.
They do though have individuals capable of real quality, and Campbell, Holmes, and the like could easily give us a bloody nose if taken lightly.
Complacency is perhaps our biggest enemy in this game.