BILLY BUNTER

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Terriers and Rams could play out a stalemate

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Huddersfield Town's 2018-19 campaign will go down as one of the worst in Premier League history but the new Sky Bet Championship season brings an opportunity for them to start afresh.

The Terriers accumulated a paltry 16 points last season but Jan Siewert has since had a full summer to redesign his squad.

Josh Koroma, Tommy Elphick and Reece Brown have been drafted in while the loan of Isaac Mbenza has been made permanent and they have the makings of a side who can at least forge a push for the playoffs.

But it will surely take time for the rejuvenated group to gel and it is a similar situation for new Derby manager Phillip Cocu.

Cocu cultivated an impressive reputation during his five years at PSV Eindhoven but it took time for him to impose his methods on the Eredivisie club. They finished fourth in his first season before winning the title in three of the following four.

Frank Lampard led County to the playoff final last season but swiftly departed when his old flame Chelsea came calling and he was followed out of the Pride Park door by a string of loan players such as Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Fikayo Tomori.

Fans of both clubs will likely be expecting decent promotion bids but they may need to be patient after turbulent summers.

A leaky rearguard was central to Huddersfield's demise but they showed glimpses of improvement towards the end of the season, albeit in pretty insignificant affairs, as they drew with Manchester United and Southampton.

Their back line should find life a lot easier in England's second tier with Elphick an accomplished player at this level and Terence Kongolo having shown promise at the back.

The Rams, meanwhile, demonstrated a lack of ruthlessness in the final third on the road towards the end of last season and they were held to stalemates by Brentford, Birmingham and Swansea.

Paying £10 million for Krystian Bielik suggests their transfer focus is on shoring up their defence but their attack will be blunted by the losses of Wilson and Mount, who contributed 27 goals between them in 2018-19.

Huddersfield were hopeless in front of goal, managing only 28 league strikes in 2018-19 and, even with the shift in personnel and drop down a division, they are unlikely to become prolific overnight. Backing the draw in Yorkshire may be the way to go.

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Match in Focus

12:30 TODAY BT1

Everton v West Ham

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Everton have lost their last four league matches
Expert verdict
Marco Silva is a man under pressure and the Everton manager will come under further scrutiny should his team fail to get a positive result against West Ham. Four consecutive Premier League losses have seen the toiling Toffees slip down to 18th place. The Hammers were made to rue missed chances when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace last time out but are eighth in the table on merit and are among the teams vying to gatecrash the top six. Both teams are prone to defensive mistakes so backing a barnstormer of a draw looks value.