Wolves v Huddersfield: why Mooy is not a number 10

Mooy best used in a deeper role – examiner.co.uk

Huddersfield received a taste of their own medicine in a 4-1 defeat to Fulham on Saturday. We normally associate with pressing high up the pitch, but instead that was what their opponents did.

The Terriers led after four minutes through Chris Loewe’s penalty but after that, they invited pressure. Eight outfield players were based in their defensive third, nine when Joe Lolley tried to block the overlapping run of Scott Malone. The onus should not have been on Lolley to track back, but instead one of the other eight players to move across and put a challenge in. They were far too static defensively, unable to cope with Fulham’s tenacity, speed, movement and quality.

It was a different story for Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, despite similar disgruntlement. They drew 0-0 with relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers, manager Paul Lambert admitting his side: “fell short of the energy levels that we have shown” against his old club.

The shortage of chances was revealed by Romain Saiss’ skied effort making the official highlights, despite it being taken from closer to the half-way line than the box! After Matt Doherty’s 21st minute injury, Wolves had two central midfielders in Conor Coady and George Saville playing at full-back.

Neither of them provided the width to break down a stubborn Blackburn side while the likes of Ben Marshall and Andreas Weimann stayed in central areas. One player who might have stretched play, Ivan Cavaleiro, took four touches in the penalty area to get crowded out before firing straight at the keeper. With the feeling of poor football and square pegs in round holes, it is hard to say that Wolves have pushed on from the Kenny Jackett era despite investment.

The main positive aspect of Jackett’s reign that has remained is defensive solidity. The Midlanders have kept the same number of Championship clean sheets in 2017 (seven) as Newcastle and one more than Huddersfield. The Terriers have shipped 14 goals in their last seven matches and while their defence has not been great, more outlets are needed.

Their best performance of the season was a 3-1 win against Brighton back in February and one of the main qualities they had that night was pace. The front four of Elias Kachunga, Izzy Brown, Rajiv Van La Parra and Nahki Wells created space for Aaron Mooy to pull strings in the middle. Recently, Mooy has been asked play further forward and be part of that quartet, which does not suit him. The Aussie likes to dictate tempo from deep and is more measured in his use of the ball than is suitable for the final third.

Against Fulham, Van La Parra was the only quick player from the Brighton line-up that started in the front four, though Brown came off the bench. As a result, Huddersfield took longer to construct attacks, making it easier for Fulham to win the ball high up the pitch and attack in the transitional phases.

The question is whether, under Lambert, Wolves have the audacity or quality to use the same game plan. For the best bookmaker offers, go to online-betting.org.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-1