If you say the words ‘Huddersfield’ and ‘Town’ in front of a Charlton Athletic fan, studies show that there’s a 97.8% chance they’ll respond with a look of fear on their face. There have even been 227 cases cited of an Addick fainting upon hearing those two phrases strung together.
227 is also the amount of times Charlton and Huddersfield will probably end up playing each other this season, to go with the 454 games that were contested between the two sides in the last campaign.
Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but the Addicks and the Terriers do play each other more than either club would like. In fact, since October 2009, the two sides have meant on 13 occasions – two league games every season and three cup ties thrown in for good measure. You can probably claim a badge if you’ve been to all 13, or psychiatric help.
But, far from being a game that Charlton fans are dreading, this Saturday’s trip to the John Smith’s Stadium is viewed with an unnatural amount of excitement.
After two impressive victories over promotion chasing Wigan Athletic and Derby County, this contest is seen as a chance for Bob Peeters’ side to strut their stuff without testing opposition making life difficult for them and taking something away from the attractive football they’re trying to play.
The 0-0 draw between the sides in March was notable only for the third minute applause given to Chris Powell, who had been removed from his position as manager the previous day, and for Johnnie Jackson’s one man attempt to instil a bit of belief into his side and supporters.
After two crushing league defeats, a 4-0 reverse at home to Bournemouth and a 3-1 loss at the Cardiff City Stadium, caretaker boss Mark Lillis lead his side to their first three points of the season in midweek with an impressive 2-1 win over Reading at the Madjeski.
And that victory will no doubt leave the Terriers full of confidence coming into this one.
How do you follow up a creditable point at Griffin Park and a stoppage time win over Wigan Athletic? By putting in an incredible performance at both ends of the pitch to beat title favourites Derby County, of course.
The Addicks could hardly have started the season in greater form, and any lingering doubts about the ability of Peeters and those players imported from far and wide to perform in the Championship are quickly vanishing.
In fact, anything less than victory would be something of a disappointment.
Charlton will no doubt be happy to see that regular tormentor Danny Ward is unavailable, with the winger injured, while the absence of prolific and pacey forward James Vaughan is also a bonus.
But the Terriers still have pace and quality in attack. The dangerous Nahki Wells, particularly so given Charlton’s lack of pace at the back, will be the central figure in a forward three that will also contain former Crystal Palace wide man Sean Scannell and Harry Bunn, a scorer in midweek.
In midfield, Huddersfield have moved quickly to replace the departed Adam Clayton and Oliver Norwood, with Jacob Butterfield and Connor Coady excellent additions, not to mention Radoslaw Majewski, signed on loan from Nottingham Forest. They are, however, without Oscar Gobern – another name on a lengthy injury list.
At the back, Lillis will be without skipper Lee Peltier and centre back Anthony Gerrard, another pair of injured men, so Murray Wallace and Tommy Smith, both 21, are likely to feature.
Charlton look set to be without goalkeeper Stephen Henderson, still recovering from a hamstring injury, and forward George Tucudean, who picked up a knock after winning a penalty against Derby in midweek.
Those injuries mean that Nick Pope, after an uncomfortable first league start, will continue between the sticks and Franck Moussa, who has made an impressive start to life as an Addick, could come in for his first start and play just behind striker Igor Vetokele.
Chris Solly, who is prevented from playing two games in quick succession by his knee issues, is also likely to come into the starting XI, replacing 17-year-old Joe Gomez at right-back.
KEY BATTLE – CHARLTON’S ATTACK VS HUDDERSFIELD’S DEFENCE
The most marked characteristic of this Charlton side is the way it attacks, and arguably the weakest area in Huddersfield’s side is their defence. The Terriers have conceded 11 times in four games, including three against League One Chesterfield in a 5-3 League Cup success, while Charlton have notched up ten goals so far this season.
If Huddersfield are to get anything out of this game, it’s of paramount importance that they tighten up at the back and find a way to deal with Charlton’s considerable attacking threat. If not, Vetokele and co. will have a field day.
Most Addicks have gone from expecting nothing to expecting everything in the past few weeks. I’m no different. It won’t be a simple task, though. Huddersfield Town 0-1 Charlton Athletic.