Sunday, the 29th of May 2022 will see Huddersfield Town take on Nottingham Forest at Wembley in the EFL Championship playoff final. The winner of this match will be promoted to the Premier League for next season and will join Fulham and Bournemouth, who were automatically promoted after finishing first and second, respectively. It is the biggest game of the season for both these teams.
Huddersfield Town come into the final having beaten Luton Town 2-1 on aggregate. The Terriers drew the first leg 1-1 away at Kenilworth Road before winning 1-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium, courtesy of a Jordan Rhodes strike in the 82nd minute. Huddersfield are looking to return to the Premier League after a period of three years, having last played in the 2018-19 season. Throughout the season, the Terriers have outperformed their xG output. The metric predicted them to score 60 goals, but they have scored 66 goals, including in the playoffs.
The Welshman, Sorba Thomas, is Huddersfield Town’s most successful threat creator this season. He has also had the most assists for Huddersfield, with 11 to his name. But most of his threat has come from dead-ball situations. From open play, it is Levi Colwill who has generated the most threat. The only other player in the Huddersfield squad who has more than five assists is Harry Toffolo, who has seven this season.
Given above is the shot map of Huddersfield Town in this season of the EFL Championship, excluding the penalties. Danny Ward is the Terriers’ top scorer, with 14 to his name. What’s more impressive is that not one goal has come from the penalty spot, though he did miss one during the season. Huddersfield have scored 61 goals from 509 shots, which brings the conversion rate to 8.34 shots per goal scored.
Nottingham Forest head into this clash having defeated Sheffield United on penalties in the playoff semi-final. The first leg saw Forest win 2-1 at Bramall Lane, before losing by the same scoreline at the City Ground in the second leg. The goalkeeper, Brice Samba, was the hero for Forest in the shootout, having saved three penalties. This season, Nottingham Forest have had the second-most counterattacks in the English second tier, behind only Coventry City.
The above visual shows the performances of Nottingham Forest relative to the rest of the division. Forest have slightly outperformed on their xG per game of 1.4 by netting 1.41 goals per game. They also rank in the top quintile for pass accuracy into the final third. Nottingham Forest have made 16 progressive runs per game, which ranks them in the top 9%.
Nottingham Forest have had a remarkable resurgence since the appointment of Steve Cooper. They are now just one win away from reaching the Premier League after 23 years. Standing in their way are Huddersfield Town, who have finished above them in the regular-season points table.