Huddersfield boss sacrifices FA Cup for Newcastle United with 9 changes
Huddersfield v Newcastle has proved undoubtedly the Yorkshire club’s main/only focus this week.
If Huddersfield win on Saturday and Brighton lose, David Wagner’s team would move to only three points off second place (five points off Newcastle) with a game in hand.
That would blow open the automatic promotion race and beyond doubt (if there is any at the minute) that this is a three into two for the top two places.
With that in mind, Wagner basically played a reserve team at the Etihad on Wednesday night.
Only two players remained from their 1-1 draw at Barnsley on Saturday and Huddersfield went into last night’s FA Cup fifth round replay on a superb run of only one defeat in their last 18 games (all competitions).
It must have been a tough decision for David Wagner with well over seven thousand travelling fans backing them but so many changes almost ensures that run would become two defeats in 19 matches.
Huddersfield played some very nice football despite the reserve team they put out and even took a surprise lead on seven minutes through Harry Bunn.
However, it was always going to be a tough ask and from the moment Sane equalised on 30 minutes the goals started to flow, the match eventually ending up what looks on the surface a 5-1 rout.
That doesn’t tell the full story though as Huddersfield continued to create chances/situations of their own and showed the kind of football that has led to many neutrals believing them to be the most stylish in the division.
Before last night, Huddersfield’s only loss in over three months was a 2-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on 14 January, then before that it was 28 November and a surprise 2-1 reverse at home to Wigan.
Whilst there may be more expectation on Newcastle to be in the Premier League next season, Huddersfield might never have a better chance of reaching it, then who knows what could happen because clubs such as Bournemouth, Swansea, Burnley and others have shown that with the spread of TV cash, any club can potentially compete in the top division.
Rafa Benitez didn’t have the luxury of resting nine first teamers on Tuesday but that win at Brighton will ensure Newcastle go into this crucial game in the very best frame of mind.
Really looking forward to this as it should be a very good game of football, with hopefully the same result for the Magpies as Tuesday night…though we could maybe do with a little less drama for the nerves.
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