Huddersfield look value to get the better of their Yorkshire rivals on Saturday lunchtime.
Huddersfield have gone left field in their bid to bring an end to the malaise of being a low-budget club that gets low-budget results, appointing Jurgen Klopp’s former disciple - and reported Liverpool backroom target - David Wagner in the hope it might trigger something a bit more exciting than Chris Powell could offer.
The former Borussia Dortmund reserve team boss is said to be an advocate of the high-octane, gegenpressing football that transformed the Bundesliga underachievers into European heavyweights. For now though, trusty caretaker Mark Lillis takes charge in this feisty local derby and, judging by his previous efforts, Town’s preparation is unlikely to be lacking anything.
Furthermore, with Wagner sat in the stands running the rule over his new troops, and Steve Evans’ larger-than-life presence still very much a novelty in the visiting camp, we should expect total focus from both sides, probably at the expense of creativity. Nobody will want to draw attention to themselves by making a mistake, so a bet on under 1.5 goals at 11/5 looks like a sensible play.
It's an outcome that might be slightly out-of-keeping with the results produced by both teams so far this season - they’ve landed this bet just five times out of 30 matches between them - but 13 of those previous matches have produced exactly two goals, so it’s hardly a stretch to envisage the goal count being reduced in view of the circumstances.
Huddersfield matches are generating 2.4 goals per game, which is markedly above their 2.24 expected goals figure, whereas Leeds are generating 2.13 goals per game, which is slightly down on their xG of 2.18. Whether you wish to take a sample of 15 games or 24, my ratings produce a total goals expectancy below the market line of 2.26.
The belief that Huddersfield carry marginally the greater goal threat is backed up by eyewitness accounts of Leeds’ four matches under the new manager. The Whites have dominated for long periods - mostly when already trailing - yet, in each instance, they’ve gone beyond the hour mark without finding the net. On the three occasions when they did eventually force a breakthrough, it came courtesy of two penalties and an Alex Mowatt corker from distance that proved to be the winner against Cardiff in midweek.
On that basis, a side bet on Huddersfield to win by a solitary strike at 7/1 is a natural addition for those who fancy something a bit more extravagant. It’s a scoreline they only managed twice in 56 league outings under Powell - surprising, given it was supposed to be his trademark - but the underlying data suggests it’s an outcome that’s long overdue.
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