Aaron Mooy heads to Manchester United charged with re-igniting not only Huddersfield Town’s campaign but his own.
The suggestion of late is that David Wagner’s No1 playmaker has been nowhere near as effective as earlier in the season and looked jaded at Premier League level.
That certainly wasn’t the case when United travelled to the John Smith’s Stadium in October, Mooy pouncing smartly to give them the lead before Laurent Depoitre got a second in the 2-1 Town win.
As Town look for only a third win in their history at Old Trafford – and a first in 88 years! – Mooy’s involvement (or not) will certainly be a talking point.
And it’s fair to say they are keeping a close eye on developments on the other side of the world, too.
Fielding fit and firing players will be key to new manager Bert van Marwijk’s hopes of hitting the ground running with the Australia national team at the World Cup in Russia.
And the Caltex Socceroos website have been taking a look at the stats of players like Mat Ryan at Brighton and Mooy with Town, suggesting the Dutchman will have “two Premier League players at the top of the careers”.
Mooy, at 27, would certainly seem to be that, and the Socceroos have utilised Opta data to assess the key stats behind his 2017-18 season which, before Old Trafford, amounts to 25 matches in the top flight.
“Most impressive about Mooy’s season has been the well-rounded nature of his game, ranking joint-fourth in the competition for tackles,” say the Socceroos.
“Only conservative trio Wilfred Ndidi, Idrissa Gueye and Pablo Zabaleta have managed more, which says plenty about a player who also acts as Huddersfield’s creative fulcrum.
“But a commendable workrate hasn’t meant a dip in his effectiveness on the ball: the former Melbourne City (and Manchester City) man is 15th for passes into the final third and 22nd for chances created.
“Mooy’s four goals rank him alongside the likes of Willian, Oliver Giroud, Marcus Rashford and New Zealand international Chris Wood.
“The midfielder’s accuracy of 80% is the 35th best in the division for players who have attempted at least 1,000 passes.
“He has also been involved in 217 duels, winning more than half.”
Speaking before last weekend’s FA Cup tie against Birmingham City, when Mooy was rested ahead of the midweek Premier League clash with Liverpool (in which the Sydneysider returned to the starting line-up in the 3-0 defeat), Wagner acknowledged his key man had not been at his vibrant best.
“Even I have seen he looked tired in the last two games,” said Wagner, walking of the defeats by Stoke City and West Ham United.
“I have seen it, and we have managed him individually in this week in training as well.
“We have to make the right decisions in the next games, maybe not just Saturday, to make sure we get him back to his best freshness, mentally first and foremost and physically as well because he is a very important player for us, as everybody knows.”
Wagner added: “I’ve had conversations with him, of course, like I have conversations with all of my players.
“We have spoken about it and he is very self-critical. He knows that he wasn’t on his best.
“He knows, as I do, that we have to get him every support and every help to come back to his best.
“There are no arguments between him and me about his performances, over the whole season, too, obviously.
“We all together should not forget he has been very strong and a big performer for us as well.”