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Huddersfield Town-Crystal Palace Preview
Few things in football are more exciting than a club making their Premier League debut, and Huddersfield Town will have that honor on Saturday when they travel to south London to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
After residing in the Championship for the past five seasons, the Terriers finished in fifth place last season and won promotion to the Premier League after topping Reading 4-3 on penalties.
As with any newly-promoted team, the goal is to stay in the top flight and summer transfer activity goes a long way toward determining if they can achieve that goal.
In gearing up for their first crack at the Premier League, the Terriers brought in striker Steve Mounie from Ligue 1 side Montpellier for £11 million, midfielder Aaron Mooy from Manchester City for £8 million, forward Tom Ince from Derby County for £10 million and winger Elias Kachunga from Ingolstadt for £11 million.
Manager David Wagner will have decisions to make on how to line up his young side, and he will quickly learn what it takes to compete at the Premier League level. Huddersfield Town won 25 games during their Championship campaign last season, however, all but three of those wins came by a single goal. It will be up to Wagner to get the most out of his defence as the attack could struggle to find the back of the net.
The Terriers will embark on their inaugural Premier League campaign with a new man wearing the armband as Wagner has named right-back Tommy Smith captain. Smith scored four goals and added 10 assists last season.
"Tommy has all the right skills needed to be a good captain; he is reliable, open-minded, committed and likes to challenge not only himself but the group as well," Wagner said. "He feels a responsibility for all the players in our dressing room and for the Club and that's exactly what we need from him.
"As everyone knows Tommy did a really good job as captain last season when he was called upon as vice captain to Mark Hudson and he has all the right qualities to do well again. He has been at Huddersfield Town for a number of years now, so he knows everyone at the Club and is a very good character in the group; that's why he is the right man to lead our team out on the pitch."
Crystal Palace are aiming to get their 2017-18 campaign off to a good start under new manager Frank de Boer, who takes charge of the Eagles following the departure of the retired Sam Allardyce.
Allardyce's Eagles finished 14th last season on 41 points, and de Boer, who has managed Ajax and Inter Milan, will hope he can push the south London side into the top half of the table by season's end.
De Boer's appointment may signal a change in philosophy as the Dutch manager has already made his player development intentions known in the transfer market. He has done well to sign Chelsea youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan, while also bringing in 20-year-old defender Jairo Riedewald from Ajax.
"I am very pleased to be joining Crystal Palace and after speaking with the gaffer a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to have the opportunity to come over and play in the Premier League," Riedewald said. "The Premier League is a great competition to be involved in and it is a great opportunity to be working under Frank de Boer once again having been with him at Ajax.
"I am looking forward to having the opportunity to play with the number of talented ball players that are already in this squad at the club. I hope to get into the team and then play my part in hopefully a good season for us all."
Huddersfield Town's last top-flight match was in April 1972 and also away at Crystal Palace, a 0-0 draw. Crystal Palace have won only one of their last five opening-day matches in the Premier League (1-1-3).
This will be the first Premier League match for both de Boer and Wagner. It is only the second time in the last 13 seasons that two managers face one another in their maiden matches. Since 2008-09, only four newly-promoted sides have won on the opening day in the Premier League.
Updated August 10, 2017