Huddersfield Town manager Danny Cowley is facing a selection dilemma with regards to who he picks to start up front, with Fraizer Campbell currently getting the nod to start over Steve Mounie.
The Terriers have been suffering since their drop from the Premier League, with some of the players they signed from that brief tenure in the top flight dropping down with them, while a lot left for pastures new in the summer as wages needed cutting.
One player who remained at the club despite a poor two seasons in the top tier was Steve Mounie, who arrived in 2017 with a lot of good form behind him after his solid season in the French Ligue 1 with Montpellier.
It has taken him a while to find his feet at the John Smith’s Stadium but he looks like adding a lot to Danny Cowley’s side after being reinstated as a first-team regular.
The man who he has been competing with for a starting berth is Huddersfield-born striker Fraizer Campbell who joined his hometown club in the summer following his release from Hull City and has been a solid member of the squad, adding experience and a great work ethic to the attack to help create a lot of chances for his fellow attackers.
Since being appointed in September, Cowley has been constantly assessing his squad to see where he needs to strengthen and he opted to stick with his two main strikers beyond the January transfer window in the hope that they have enough between them to fire the club to Championship safety, along with the goals of other key players.
Last time out, the Terriers made the trip to Elland Road to face title-chasing Leeds United with both players getting a chance to have an impact on proceedings, but they were both largely ineffectual as Campbell could only manage one shot assist and Mounie did next to nothing at all.
With nine games left to go, Cowley has a selection dilemma to resolve about which player is better suited to boost their survival hopes, with the stats painting a pretty clear picture:
Both players have been important members of the squad this season and have had regular chances to prove themselves in the starting lineup and off the bench; in the vast majority of areas, it looks like Steve Mounie isn’t just edging the numbers but is comfortably out-performing his strike partner.
In terms of goals, there is no question that Mounie is better in the final third with eight this season, all coming in his last 14 games, while Campbell has just two to his name this season, with his last strike coming in the 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham City back in November.
While Karlan Grant is the club’s top scorer this season and probably will remain so by the end of the season, they need more goals to ensure their Championship status and this argument only leans in one direction: towards the Benin international.
Only one assist between the two doesn’t make for good reading with Campbell taking that one, however, as the focal point of Huddersfield’s attack, one would expect both to be providing a lot more for their teammates.
With Campbell’s lack of goals, it’s clear that his role in the team runs much deeper just notching goals, as his work ethic sets the standard for the rest of the team, but then it would be expected that this would yield a lot more in the final third than he has been.
Can you name Huddersfield’s top scorers from recent seasons?
Expected goals is where the evidence outlines the difference in finishing quality between the two, as not only is Mounie’s xG score much higher at 6.63 compared to Campbell’s 2.29, but he is also out-performing his while Campbell is running at a goalscoring rate lower than what he should be, based on the nature of the chances he is on the end of. Huddersfield won’t get as many chances as other teams in this division, given their precarious position, so it’s then imperative that they are clinical when they come, which can only be said for one of these players.
Arguably the most surprising gulf between these two is in the passing accuracy numbers, as once again, Mounie takes it comfortably with an accuracy of 76.3% over Campbell’s low 68.2%. If you aren’t going to score the goals to fire your team to survival, your all-round play as a striker in a 4-2-3-1 must yield better linkup play with accurate passing to retain possession in good areas, which Mounie is showing much more than the 32-year-old.
No surprises to see that Mounie is comfortably leading the way with his success rate in aerial duels, as he stands at 55.9% of his duels won, more than double the amount that Campbell wins at 27%. The height mismatch between the two is a massive factor in this but when the Terriers are trying to hold up play and gain territory higher up the pitch, this ability is vital to their play.
Mounie has been limited to a lot of substitute appearances this season but has still been much more lively in the penalty area with an average of 3.29 touches in the box per 90 minutes compared to Campbell’s two.
Given the numbers behind both of these players’ seasons, it does seem rather odd that Cowley continues to place his faith in a striker that doesn’t look like adding to many more to his tally based on his lack of spark in the final third, while Mounie’s form is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and far more suited to what the Terriers need in the final third for the relegation scrap.