David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town sacrificed possession for chances to net their first win in seven games.
The new style instilled under the new boss was still very much in evidence at St Andrew’s - the players worked extremely hard, pressed well, and the ‘full-throttle’ approach remains delightful to watch and continues to excite the fans.
However, Wagner isn’t afraid to make slight modifications to his general ideas and that paid dividends against Birmingham City on Saturday.
While the Terriers dominated possession to the tune of 75% against a Middlesbrough side that was content to sit back, they enjoyed 52.3% of the ball on Saturday.
And yet, they created double the amount of chances against Gary Rowett’s men, culminating in 13 shots on target from which Joe Lolley and Nahki Wells converted the crucial two.
By letting the opposition have the ball towards their own goal, but immediately setting about the pressing game as soon as it reached the vicinity of the halfway line, Town were well-placed to capitalise when they did regain control.
Birmingham, with 47.7% possession, had just six shots on goal against a Terriers side that snapped at their heels, restricted the width of the pitch by forcing the opposition’s best players to come inside, and defended stoutly in numbers.
Fitness levels have clearly been improving since Wagner took hold of the reins, and this was another committed display full of energy. Town consistently outfought Birmingham in key areas - winning 58.2% of their duels and clocking up 21 interceptions to City’s 18.
No player epitomised this all-action style more than Dean Whitehead , who won 83.3% of his personal duels and won all of the tackles he attempted.
However, the whole team turned in a display for the away end - who never stopped singing - to be proud of. Inside the first minute, it was noticeable that goalscorer Joe Lolley had helped to start the move just outside Town’s 18 yard box, and yet was on hand to finish at the other end 42 seconds after kick off.
From an attacking perspective, the form of Sean Scannell on the right hand side proved crucial. A Man of the Match contender, Scannell set up both goals - with the strength and trickery he showed to get past two defenders for the second a particular highlight.
A total of 42% of the Terriers’ attacking play came down the right wing, and while through balls were a definite feature of the game, the improvement in crossing from wide areas was also noticeable.
The success rate was 29.4% against Birmingham, whereas just 13.3% of crosses found their target against Middlesbrough the previous Saturday.
Wagner has spoken of his commitment to style regardless of the opposition. However, the stats show that his willingness to make minor changes will stand the Terriers in good stead over the coming weeks and months.