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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Huddersfield have the tools to stay up

Five things we learned from the weekend

Huddersfield splashed the cash on Steve Mounie
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1 Terriers can survive
A good start doesn't guarantee anything but Huddersfield have shown enough to suggest they have a very good chance of establishing themselves in the Premier League.

Huddersfield have seven points from three games - only one more than Hull had amassed at the same stage of last season - but they seem unlikely to mirror the Tigers' plunge into the relegation zone.

Stepping up to the Premier League looked like being a major challenge for Huddersfield but they have recruited intelligently and their high-pressing, high-energy style seems to be working.

Victories over Crystal Palace (3-0) and Newcastle (1-0) were well deserved and they fully merited the 0-0 draw they achieved against Southampton on Saturday.

Huddersfield will face tougher tests over the course of the season but they look equipped to compete and win matches against the teams they will be competing with in the mid-to-lower part of the table.

2 Palace heading for big trouble
Huddersfield's unexpectedly strong start has increased the pressure on other teams in danger of the drop, including Crystal Palace, who are off to a dreadful start.

When the fixture list came out Palace would have been quietly confident of winning two of their first three games but they have put in a couple of dreadful performances in defeats to Huddersfield (3-0) and Swansea (2-0).

Palace cannot be blamed for Sam Allardyce's decision to resign but their choice to appoint Frank De Boer is already looking questionable.

De Boer's arrival was always going to mean a change in playing style and it hasn't been working.

When Palace try to knock the ball about their build-up has been too slow.

They went back to a more direct style in an effort to rescue the Swansea match and were more effective although the absence of injured attacker Wilfried Zaha is an obvious hindrance.

Big money was spent in January to ensure last season's survival but is also means there is less money available to De Boer as he tries to reshape the squad.

De Boer may have to simplify his tactics to get Palace moving forward but it is going to be tough with the Eagles taking on five of last season's top seven in their next nine matches.

3 Tough season in store for Sunderland
Sunderland should have been looking to compete at the top of the Sky Bet Championship but they looked relegation material during Saturday's 3-0 loss at Barnsley.

Despite receiving huge parachute payments Sunderland seem unable to compete in the transfer market and their squad does not look strong enough to mount a promotion challenge.

Black Cats manager Simon Grayson is vastly experienced in the Championship and, given the right backing, he would have every chance of turning the club around.

Grayson expects Sunderland to be busy in the last few days of the transfer window but a lot of intelligent business will need to be done if Sunderland are to contend.

4 Leeds can be major players
Leeds sold their star striker Chris Wood to Burnley last week but they have assembled a squad which looks ready to mount a sustained promotion challenge.

Last season Leeds were far too reliant on Wood and ended up missing out on the playoffs.

This time they have several match-winners in the side.

Kemar Roofe looks a more complete player at the start of his second season in the second tier and new signings Samuel Saiz and Ezgjan Alioski have taken to English football with ease.

Saiz has netted five goals in his first six Leeds appearances and Alioski bagged a brilliant goal in a man-of-the-match performance as Leeds deservedly won 2-0 at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Leeds appear to have bought well and could be strong contenders for automatic promotion.

5 Wigan worthy favourites for League One
Wigan dropped points for the first time this season at the weekend but their performance in a 1-1 draw at home to Portsmouth was the mark of a team who will go on to have a strong season.

Chey Dunkley's second-half dismissal meant the Latics had to play 30 minutes of the match a man down.

But they still dominated the shot count 18 to five against one of the biggest clubs in the division.

Manager Paul Cook left Portsmouth to join Wigan in the summer and, on the evidence of Saturday's match, he made the right decision.

Read more
Arsenal 7-4 for top four after Anfield thrashing

Victories over Crystal Palace (3-0) and Newcastle (1-0) were well deserved and they fully merited the 0-0 draw they achieved against Southampton
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