Talking Tactics | Swansea City v Huddersfield Town
Swansea head into today's welcome of Huddersfield on a four-game unbeaten run, picking up 10 points from the last 12 available, and they'll be looking to extend that streak when the Terriers make the trip to south Wales.
What to expect from Huddersfield
Huddersfield have enjoyed a resurgence since Neil Warnock returned to the club in mid-February. Indeed, had the season started when Warnock took over at the Terriers for the second time of his career, then Huddersfield would sit 11th in the table and a five-game unbeaten run in recent weeks has seen them pull away from danger.
Of course, it hasn't been plain sailing for Huddersfield under Warnock, and they have endured their fair share of defeats, but they are hitting form at just the right time as they seek to consolidate a spot in England's second tier.
Warnock has not been afraid to tinker with his system but has, for the most part, favoured a 4-2-3-1 setup during his second stint at the John Smith's Stadium.
It might be that Warnock decides to stick with a three-man backline, however, given it has helped secure a 3-2 win over Watford and a 2-2 draw with Blackburn.
If that proves the case then it would see Warnock continue with a three-man backline of Tom Lees, Michal Helik and Matthew Pearson as the Terriers seek to shut Swansea out and extend their two-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
If Warnock does indeed elect to use a three-man defence with a player in the number 10 role, then Swansea do need to be wary of the attacking threat Jack Rudoni carries in the final third.
Rudoni has been directly involved in seven league goals this season, three of which have come in his last two outings. The attacking freedom benefits the 21-year-old, who ranks second for both key passes (0.8) and dribbles per game (1) of all Huddersfield players this season.
There's a solid midfield foundation that allows Rudoni to pry apart defences, too, with Jonathan Hogg and David Kasumu forming quite the central midfield partnership. Hogg (2) and Kasumu (1.8) rank first and third, respectively, for tackles per game of all Huddersfield players this season, and as such, the Terriers do not lack for bite.
Of course, any team under the watchful eye of Warnock is a testing proposition, and a five-game unbeaten run means Huddersfield head into today's game in good form, but Swansea are on a good streak of their own.
The WhoScored.com match forecast suggests it is very likely' that Swansea will dominate possession, and that shouldn't come as a surprise. The Swans have the second highest possession average (63.5%) in the Championship this season, while Huddersfield have the fourth lowest (41.6%).
As such, the Swansea centre-backs will likely see plenty of the ball, with youngster Nathan Wood the man to help kickstart attacks from defence. Only Burnley's Jordan Beyer (91.6%) has a better pass success rate than Wood (91.4%) in the Championship this season, and it means the 20-year-old has developed a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'passing'.
That's not to say Wood can shirk his defensive responsibilities, however, and while Danny Ward has been directly involved in just eight league goals this season, scoring four, the Huddersfield striker has been in solid form of late. One goal and two assists across his last four league outings means Wood will know he needs to be on his mettle.
Warnock has deservedly drawn the plaudits for the way he has masterminded his Huddersfield side out of the bottom three following his appointment, but the Terriers aren't out of the woods yet.
Fifteen points is a commendable haul across the last 11 matches, yet Huddersfield are still frequently conceding. Only QPR (24) and Blackpool (22) have shipped more Championship goals than Huddersfield (20) since Warnock took over two months ago.