HEAD COACH David Wagner believes Tottenham Hotspur will face a very different Huddersfield Town to the one swept aside so easily earlier in the season.
The Terriers return to Wembley for the first time since clinching promotion under the Arch last May in the final of the Championship play-offs.
Such a memorable triumph, Reading being vanquished on penalties, is bound to dominate thoughts of Huddersfield’s 3,000 strong travelling army of fans ahead of a clash that is one of only two involving Yorkshire clubs today to survive the Arctic weather.
But it is the prize of precious Premier League points that is focusing Wagner’s mind as he looks to make it three consecutive top-flight wins for the first time since April, 1956.
It will not, though, be easy with Spurs – and Harry Kane – serving Town with a wake-up call as to just how hard life can be in the Premier League back in September.
The London club were three goals ahead inside the opening quarter en route to a 4-0 victory in what was the Terriers’ first meeting with any of English football’s big six.
“We learn lessons every single day,” said Wagner ahead of returning to the scene of his biggest triumph as a head coach.
“That is what happens in every single match we play in the Premier League because we are so inexperienced.
“But what the players have shown, and this is great to see, is that they are able to adapt, and quickly.
“In the first game, yes, Tottenham showed us what a strong side they are and that they are able to use every single mistake against us and score.
“You have to be focused every second as well, don’t give them any little chance because they can hurt you in these situations.
“We found different ways to set up against the top teams after that, and we will see what we will do at Wembley.
“But this was a big lesson we got in the first game against Tottenham, a lesson which has helped us in the next games.”
Kane netted twice in that 4-0 victory over Huddersfield and Wagner believes the England man is the best in Europe right now.
Town’s head coach is also appreciative of the other quality players that his Spurs counterpart Mauricio Pochettino has at his disposal. Equally, though, Wagner refuses to accept today’s trip to the capital is something of a “free hit” for his players due to Spurs being the overwhelming favourites.
“No, it isn’t a bonus game,” he said, “and that is because it is a Premier League game where we have the chance to get a point and maybe three.
“This is the truth, and I said this at the beginning of the season. As a team who fight for survival we have to collect some points against the top six over the season.
“We have three at the minute (from beating Manchester United in October). Whether it is one, two, three or more, I don’t know how many we need to collect.
“But we must collect points. You cannot say, ‘Okay, in these 12 games against the top six we collect zero points’.
“The task then is unbelievably difficult to stay up. This is our aim, to collect more than the three points we have collected so far against the top six.
“There is another opportunity on Saturday. It’s a difficult task, of course it’s difficult. But we have had some difficult tasks over the season so far.”
Town head to Wembley buoyed by back-to-back league wins over Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion.
Following a five-game losing start to 2018, the recent upturn in results has been the perfect fillip for a club who now sit three points clear of the relegation zone.
The feelgood factor will also be boosted by the return to Wembley and the scene of Huddersfield’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory in the final of the Championship play-offs.
“It is a great occasion, of course it is,” added Wagner. “We only have unbelievably positive memories when we think about Wembley. It is less than a year ago that we had one of the most successful days in the club’s history.
“Now we are back. Of course, if you have positive memories of an occasion then it is something that can help you if you prepare yourself for this game, and this is what we use, what we take.”
Sheffield Wednesday’s trip to Bristol City is the only other game featuring a Yorkshire side to go ahead today.
Football latest: Pages 2-5.