Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Huddersfield Town
After being knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Premier League outfit Brighton in midweek, attention turns back to Championship duties as Swansea City welcome Huddersfield to the Swansea.com Stadium.
Ahead of this one, WhoScored.com preview the league clash, including what to expect from the Terriers, the key battle and a key stat to gear up for action.
What to expect from Huddersfield
Following a challenging 2020-21 campaign that saw Huddersfield finish two spots and six points above the relegation spots, the Terriers have surpassed early-season expectations, picking up 13 points from their eight games so far to sit outside the play-off spots on goal difference only.
A host of players signed during the club's Premier League stint departed over the summer and, with some effective new arrivals, Carlos Corberan has his side playing exciting attacking football that has seen them score 13 goals, the sixth-best return in the division at the time of writing.
They have conceded 11 times at the other end but, after a couple of tough years, things are looking up for the Terriers. Corberan has his side playing a three-man backline, moving away from the four-man setup most commonly seen in 2020-21, and this allows the wing-backs to press on to opponents.
Indeed, Huddersfield have developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'attacking down the wings', with wing-backs Sorba Thomas (7.15) and Harry Toffolo (7.01) ranking first and third, respectively, as their best-rated players this season. Just 24% of Huddersfield's attacks have come through the middle, among the lowest figures in the division.
In turn, their willingness to get the wing-backs forward as often as possible can leave them vulnerable in transition having gained a WhoScored.com weakness of 'defending against attacks down the wings'.
If Swansea can get the ball into the channels between the wing-backs and the centre-backs, they will hope to profit.
A key man for Swansea in their bid to exploit Huddersfield's weakness from attacks down the flanks will be youngster Ethan Laird.
The 20-year-old spent last season on loan at MK Dons from Manchester United under Russell Martin and has joined him in south Wales in a bid to continue his development.
While Swansea look to adapt to the head coach's methods, Laird has been a consistent force down the right, carrying an impressive attacking threat that has helped ease Connor Roberts' departure for Burnley.
Laird has earned a better WhoScored.com rating (7.13) than any other Swansea player in the Championship this season, with strengths of 'key passes' and 'dribbling' ideal traits for a player in his position.
It's deserving, too, with Laird ranking first for goalscoring chances created (12) and successful dribbles (13) of all players for the Swans, so if he can get the better of his opposite number this weekend, then the youngster could build on a bright start to life with the Swans.
One of the main reasons Huddersfield have been so effective down the flanks is down to the performances of Sorba Thomas, who ranks first for key passes (28) in the Championship this season.
That has translated to four assists - no player has more - as the 22-year-old shines in his breakthrough year at the club. Comfortable on either flank, it could prove to be that Thomas faces off against Laird in a mouthwatering key battle at the Swansea.com Stadium.
In 32 games in 2021, Huddersfield have picked up just 31 points, which is not a great return all things considered.
However, 13 of those have come in eight games this season to reinforce an impressive turnaround by the Terriers, with the club seeing the benefits of keeping the faith in Corberan after what was always likely to be a challenging first season at the helm.
Huddersfield did the double over the Swans last season and, given their form in the opening weeks of 2021-22, they are not to be underestimated this weekend.