Tuesday night saw Newcastle leave Brighton with three precious points in the bid for promotion, but another tough test awaits at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday evening.
It was another Rafa Benitez masterclass on Tuesday night at the Amex Stadium that snatched victory at the death, but the Spaniard will know he will have to do the same again at the weekend to produce the same outcome. Huddersfield are in fantastic form, topping the form table in the last ten games. The Yorkshiremen have collected 19 points since their last defeat back in January at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday. Their visitors, on the other hand, are close behind in the form rankings. Newcastle are unbeaten in their last nine league games and haven’t lost since that miserable day at Blackburn on the 2nd of January. The hosts have also won their last four at home and have created excellent atmospheres this season, so on paper, it promises to be a good game.
Newcastle players celebrating Ayoze Perez’ late winner at Brighton (above)
No stranger to touchline animation and passionate signals, David Wagner will serve the second of a two-match touchline ban after an altercation with Leeds boss Gary Monk at the beginning of February. The 45-year-old German has been in charge of the Terriers since 2015, steering them clear of relegation last season before their current remarkable campaign that sees them sitting third at the minute. Wagner was at Borussia Dortmund from 2011 to 2015 under Jürgen Klopp and was best man at Klopp’s wedding, and this seems to certainly have had a positive impact on his managerial style.
Wagner has certainly made his mark at Huddersfield. He has taken to the market with the signings of the impressive Isaiah Brown who’s currently on loan from Chelsea, defender Christopher Schindler from 1860 Munich and Man City loanee Aaron Mooy who has made 32 league appearances already this term from midfield; just to name a few. Wagner’s win record currently stands at 46% at Huddersfield, an impressive feat under tight finances.
Opposition player to watch – Elias Kachunga
The 24-year-old German striker was brought in by David Wagner in the summer as a loanee from FC Ingolstadt 04, who play in the German Bundesliga. Kachunga has the made most appearances out of any Huddersfield player so far this season and is the club’s top-scorer with 11 goals in all competitions. Kachunga played well in the reserve fixture back in August at St James’ in Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat, striking the post from distance and was a threat all game, assisting the first goal. Newcastle have conceded the joint-fewest goals this season along with Brighton on 28, so the battle between Kachunga and Newcastle’s back four should be an intriguing one.
Elias Kachunga celebrating his goal against Brighton in February (above).
Key battle – Aaron Mooy vs Jonjo Shelvey
A battle of the midfielders. The Australian Aaron Mooy is a central midfielder and has racked up the games this season under Wagner (35), impressing the locals. The 26-year-old has only scored two goals this season, his first being the winner in the local derby against Leeds in September, but has assisted six. Like Kachunga, Mooy is another loanee but Wagner may hope to pen him down on a permanent come the summer. In comparison, Jonjo Shelvey has been labelled Newcastle’s “quarterback” this season and the pair are set to lock horns on Saturday. Both players are tough and gritty and have been instrumental in their sides’ success this season, with both hoping to achieve promotion to the Premier League. Saturday’s result could go a long way in deciding who manages that.
Midfielder Aaron Mooy battling it out for the Terriers (above)
The game will kick-off at 5:30pm on Saturday evening and it will be broadcasted on Sky.
Feature Image Credit – Martin Le Roy