The Sunday tea-time fixture at Molineux is the focus of this latest Scout Notes piece, a match that saw Huddersfield Town gain their first victory on the road in 2018/19 to condemn Wolverhampton Wanderers to their third straight home defeat.
It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the many Fantasy managers who were banking on a home win to nil and, for owners of Wolves’ defensive assets, this was a fifth straight match without a clean sheet.
At the other end, talismanic Mexican striker Raul Jimenez was 18mm away from what would have been his ninth goal involvement of the campaign.
Make no mistake, though – Huddersfield were excellent value for their victory and not for the first time this season proved to be stubborner opposition than many anticipated.
We round up the goals, assists, injury news, manager quotes and Fantasy talking points from the Terriers’ deserved win in the West Midlands.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Huddersfield Town
- Goals: Aaron Mooy (£5.1m) x2
- Assists: Erik Durm (£4.4m), Steve Mounie (£5.8m)
While Wolves were winless in four Premier League games going into this fixture, the superb performance of Nuno Espirito Santo’s troops in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal a fortnight ago gave owners of their Fantasy assets much hope coming into this Gameweek 13 clash with Huddersfield Town.
The hosts were unrecognisable from the exhilarating, counter-attacking side that merited more than one point in north London in Gameweek 12 and were tactically found out by David Wagner’s team on Sunday, with the visitors exacting an aggressive high press from the off and suffocating the influential Ruben Neves (£5.0m) and Joao Moutinho (£5.4m) in midfield.
This was the second time this season that Wolves have produced a dismal display immediately after an international break (see also: Watford in Gameweek 9), though some perspective is needed – Santo’s side sit 11th in the Premier League having held the Gunners and both Manchester clubs to draws already this season. Mid-table is surely around “par” for where we’d expect last season’s Championship winners to be right now.
Fantasy managers who are anticipating, or at least hoping for, the likes of Matt Doherty (£4.9m) to regularly deliver against lowly opposition were given a reality check on Sunday, with the Irish wing-back and his team-mates emerging from this encounter with nothing but appearance points to their names.
There will be further monster hauls from Doherty and co. again this year (who knows, maybe even as soon as this Friday against Cardiff City), but Fantasy bosses may have to accept that there will be plenty more frustrating days like today for this young, developing side who are ultimately still finding their feet at a higher level.
Having watched the way Huddersfield targeted Wolves’ two central midfielders and pinned back their wing-backs, it may well be that teams are already starting to figure out a way of combating Santo’s outfit too. The accusation that the Wolves manager has no “Plan B”, while unkind to a coach who has achieved much with the West Midlands club, may have some truth in it.
Santo acknowledged how bad his side had been after full-time:
I am very disappointed for everybody, for us, for the fans, they deserved a better performance and a better game than today.
We were very bad, very bad. We played very bad and when you play bad you lose.
Everybody made mistakes. We didn’t have the ball, when we did have it we lost the ball, we rushed ourselves, we were not compact and too far away from each other.
Credit to Huddersfield, they pressed us very well and deserved to win the game.
I was disappointed at the way we conceded, and we didn’t create many. There was only one moment, option for us to score.
We were too far away from each other on the pitch. Defensively and offensively they have to keep close to each other.
Doherty was peripheral in the first half and, while slightly improving after the break and featuring more prominently in the Huddersfield box, never really looked as if he was going to trouble Jonas Lossl (£4.4m) between the sticks.
A Morgan Gibbs-White (£4.3m) pass that Doherty failed to control in the visitors’ area late on was about as involved as the wing-back got at the business end of the pitch and the Ireland defender was partly culpable for the fifth-minute goal that wiped out a few million clean sheets across the world – Erik Durm (£4.4m) skinning Doherty for pace and then cutting the ball back for Aaron Mooy (£5.1m) to expertly convert on the edge of the box.
Ruben Vinagre (£4.3m) had a mixed afternoon on the opposite flank on his first ever Premier League start, with regular left wing-back Jonny (£4.5m) ruled out for six weeks due to a knee injury.
Vinagre was full of running and trickery going forward on his full debut, though left much to be desired defensively and the consensus from Wolves fans that he is a more attacking, less tactically astute version of Jonny seems to be on the money.
Conor Coady (£4.5m), Ryan Bennett (£4.2m) and Willy Boly (£4.5m) were given a torrid time by the bustling Steve Mounie (£5.8m), meanwhile, with Mooy and Alex Pritchard (£4.8m) buzzing around the Beninese striker and finding pockets of space between Wolves’ back three and their central midfield.
Ivan Cavaleiro‘s (£5.2m) abject afternoon (along with Moutinho’s) was ended at half-time, while Helder Costa (£4.9m) produced precious little of note on the opposite wing.
As usual, it was Jimenez – the most-bought FPL forward of Gameweek 12 – who was Wolves’ main attacking threat, though not for the first time this season the Mexican striker’s radar was awry.
The Wolves number nine wasted a glorious chance on 66 minutes when the prone Terence Kongolo (£4.3m) played him onside when clean through on goal and a short while later Jimenez blazed wide from an acute angle after a through-ball from Costa.
Though Jimenez’s goal conversion rate (6.3%, the worst of any FPL striker who has scored at least one Premier League strike in 2018/19) is a source of frustration for his owners, that he finds himself presented with so many goalscoring opportunities on what seems like a weekly basis still marks him out as perhaps the stand-out budget forward option in the sub-£6.0m price bracket.
Indeed, Jimenez was 18mm away from getting on the scoresheet in this encounter when his goalbound header was hacked off the line by the excellent Philip Billing (£4.5m) in the nick of time.
Billing, a popular bench fodder option this season, was one of a number of excellent performers in the Huddersfield Town side at Molineux.
It will take more than a 2-0 win at Wolves to generate any sort of interest in their attack-minded Fantasy assets, though: no club has scored fewer goals than the Terriers this season.
Mooy’s brace has seen him transferred in by more than 3,000 FPL managers already, but these were his first league goals in almost an entire year and the Australian midfielder managed this feat without setting foot in the Wolves penalty area once.
Mooy’s second goal came courtesy of a free-kick following a foul on Mounie just outside the box.
Mounie is another striking option available to FPL managers in the sub-£6.0m bracket but, as good as he was here, his goal threat is generally very limited and indeed he is yet to be on the scoresheet this season.
A 36th-minute header straight at Rui Patricio (£4.6m) from a Mooy corner was the best chance that Mounie had to open his 2018/19 account, though the Benin international did have another headed effort hacked away from almost on the goal-line by Doherty shortly before the break.
Pritchard is an intriguing budget midfield option at £4.8m given that he is almost playing alongside Mounie in a 3-5-2 and Fantasy managers may be willing to overlook his relative lack of goal threat (one goal and no assists this season) with some juicy home fixtures coming up before Christmas.
Brighton, Newcastle and Southampton visit the John Smith’s Stadium between now and Boxing Day and there may be a modicum of interest in their budget defensive assets given the ease with which they dealt with Wolves on Sunday, not allowing their hosts a single “big chance” all match.
Indeed, in the last half-dozen Gameweeks, no Premier League club has conceded fewer clear-cut opportunities than David Wagner’s side.
Christopher Schindler (£4.3m) is perhaps the biggest draw given his aerial prowess and security of starts, and the Huddersfield stopper indeed came out of Gameweek 13 with two bonus points to go with his clean sheet.
Durm and Tommy Smith (£4.4m), meanwhile, ably filled in for the injured Chris Lowe and the suspended Zanka (both £4.4m) as Wagner was rewarded for keeping faith in his wing-back system.
The Terriers boss said:
The players have shown better performances – or at least comparable performances – this season but they have not got the rewards.
Today they got two goals, a clean sheet and have done fantastically well. I’m so happy for them.
They’ve shown a lot of bravery to press an opponent such as Wolves so high up the pitch. We were able to minimise their opportunities.
Speaking of Mooy, Wagner added:
Aaron Mooy is a top-class player. He has this calmness on the ball. His decision-making was great.
You will rarely find a player with such good technique and vision who is prepared to work so hard for the team.
Wolves XI (3-4-3): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho (Gibbs-White 46′), Neves, Vinagre; Costa (Jota 75′), Jimenez, Cavaleiro (Traore 46′).
Huddersfield Town XI (3-5-1-1): Lossl; Smith, Kongolo, Schindler; Hadergjonaj, Hogg (Stankovic 90′), Billing (Williams 90′), Mooy, Durm; Pritchard (Mbenza 90′); Mounie.
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