As a wiser man than me often used to remind us, football is a funny old game. One of these sides won handsomely 4-1 last weekend, whilst the other huffed and puffed to a disappointing 1-0 defeat.
But it was not the way you’d have assumed beforehand. United lost at Newcastle, and were so poor they made Jonjo Shelvey look like a reliable midfielder. Huddersfield, meanwhile, who are more used to conceding rather than scoring four goals, beat Bournemouth 4-1 to give their survival hopes a massive boost.
Even so, Huddersfield’s Danny Williams took the celebrations a bit too far. There’s always one.
Sending a pair of these bad boys to Huddersfield Town's Danny Williams. He needs a new pair, it would seem… pic.twitter.com/mAAjqr8isY
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) February 12, 2018
The bad news for the Terriers is that United have bounced back from setbacks well this season. They have followed their seven previous losses in all competitions in 2017/18 with six wins and a draw. When Huddersfield have won, their next results have amounted to 3 wins, 2 draws and five defeats.
Who needs fancy stats? It’s United to win, and the odds are 4/11.
But things are never that straightforward around here, are they? United have lost their last two away games and also lost at the John Smith’s Stadium earlier in the season. They naturally prefer Boddingtons, as it’s the cream of Manchester.
That title belongs to City in 2017/18, though, and United might have one eye on their upcoming trip to Seville during this match. A Huddersfield win, which is priced at 8/1, might not actually be as unlikely as Paddy thinks. If nothing else, when looking at how the big teams have fared against the current bottom seven this season United’s record is not flawless:
One thing that is clear is David Wagner’s mob will need to score first if they are going to win. Huddersfield have conceded the opening goal 14 times in the Premier League this season, and have just one point to show from those matches.
They also only won three times when conceding first in the Championship last season, so struggling to turn games around is not new for them. United to score first but fail to win is not priced at 9/1 for no reason.
Can the home side open the scoring, though? The odds are 3/1, but as Huddersfield have failed to score 14 times in the Premier League this season, which is the most in the division, and United have kept the most clean sheets (15) then I’ll be on the visitors to score first, at 1/4.
The form book for matches where both teams score also suggests that whoever scores first in this one wins it. These two sides are joint bottom in the 2017/18 Premier League for matches where both teams get on the score sheet.
The odds are 8/13 for a ‘no’ on both teams to score, and that looks too tasty to ignore. But which players are likely to get a goal in this match?
Predicting scorers for cup games is always tough. It’s still early enough in the competition for teams to rotate, and both sides have more important games on the horizon. You lot can wait until the starting XIs are announced, whereas I have to take a punt now before they lock me back up in the Paddy Power dungeon for the weekend.
It’s tricky to choose players from low scoring sides like Huddersfield, too.
When none of a team’s players has scored more than five league goals this season, who do you pick? As a numbers man, I always look to someone who has scored a lot fewer goals than you might expect, and that player for Huddersfield is Tom Ince.
When it comes to scoring less than expected, the Guv’nor’s son is second only in the Premier League to everyone’s favourite lumbering Belgian. No, United fans, not Romelu Lukaku, but Christian Benteke.
Anyway, Ince is priced at 12/1 to get the first goal, though remember the chances of Huddersfield breaking the deadlock are reasonably slim. A bet on him at 9/2 to score any time is perhaps the better option.
United’s biggest under achiever on the scoring front has been Paul Pogba. He should have netted five goals rather than three in the league, and Mourinho will probably make him play here as a punishment for failing to track back or something. England’s most expensive player is 15/2 to score first, and 11/4 to bag a goal at some point.
As I mentioned everyone’s second favourite lumbering Belgian, let’s consider if it’s worth putting a bet on Lukaku to score. He’s the joint-favourite in the market with Alexis Sanchez, and they’re both evens to get on the score sheet, or 16/5 to net the opener.
However, Lukaku probably has the edge as he just loves scoring against the smaller teams.
His tally of 12 league goals this season is decent enough, but not one of them has been scored against a team that was higher than ninth in the table on the day of the match. This includes a certain Huddersfield Town, just two weeks ago. If he plays, I’d definitely considering putting a few quid on the former Everton man.
In terms of an overall score prediction I’m going for a 1-0 Manchester United win, which can be backed at 5/1, and I wouldn’t turn my nose up at the 11/8 on offer that United win by 1,2 or 3 goals to nil either. It won’t be the most thrilling match to watch, so a little flutter might be your best source of entertainment for this one.