Huddersfield at home is our third game in a week and represents an opportunity to continue this positive countdown to Christmas with a win and to keep the good momentum going.
It’ll also ensure that confidence remains high at a time in which we’ve had a few injuries over the last few weeks and some of them bigger than others. Like poor old Rob Holding, for example, who the club confirmed has ruptured his ligaments in his knee and so sadly that almost definitely ends his season with us. It’s a real shame for him and a big blow, because he’d established himself as a regular in the team, really looked like he’d ‘kicked on’ this season and it’s a blow to all of us as well.
The back three that Emery has played for the last three league game were really starting to look more assured too. I mean yes they were having some brain fart moments and yes they were making the odd costly mistake, but in the most part I have watched the last three matches and thought that they seem to be getting the swing of Emery’s way and certainly we haven’t been giving away as many chances as we did at the start of the season.
What it means for today but also for the remainder of the season remains to be seen. I suspect Emery will go four at the back today but with Monreal also able to play as centre half you’d hope that we have enough to cope with the loss of Holding. Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal, Koscielny and then eventually Mavropanos when he gets back makes five centre halves and although Emery has played three at the back I doubt we’ll see it all season. Games like today for example could have us switch and you’d expect to have enough to beat Huddersfield, who have lost their last two games and also have a suspension in the shape of Mounie, which means one less of their attacking options is reduced.
It is funny though because three at the back feels like something where there’s a little more defensive solidity about the formation, but actually it’s been an opportunity for us to release our wing backs further forward up the pitch. Kolasinac has certainly benefitted and Bellerin has also enjoyed a bit more licence to roam. In a team with no natural wingers the importance of those wing backs getting forward has been obvious and so I do wonder if Emery will be tempted to play three at back even against a team like Huddersfield, who will inevitably come to be compact, take advantage of set pieces or breaks in play. I spoke to a Huddersfield fan on Thursday evening and he said that there isn’t loads of pace in the Huddersfield team and so hitting us on the counter is probably not something they’ll look to do. That means the emphasis is going to be on us to be sensible at the back, but also to ensure we have the creative players able to unpick the lock that is Huddersfield.
That’s why I’m hoping Ozil gets back in to the team because he’s a player who can spot that well timed run, or drift into that bit of space that stretches a compact team, so I just hope that we have the right level of creativity going forward and not just the decisive finishing of Laca and Auba to rely on.
Ramsey’s injury almost certainly means that Mkhi or Iwobi will play, probably both of them, especially if Ozil is still not fit. If that happens then I want to see a LOT more from both who I think have been poor in recent games. We need guile and craft and those two have it, it just doesn’t feel like they’ve demonstrated it of late and from my perspective, I really don’t like digging out any Arsenal player. But i’ve been a bit critical of Mkhi of late. Come on Mkh’s, make me happy today and put a proper shift in son.
Huddersfield will most likely attack down our left hand side and look to expose the weakness that is Kolasinac defensively. They’re a team that win aerial duels and try to make the most of set pieces so for me it will be about us being sensible and not diving in to tackles. If we don’t give away silly free kicks (think the Tiny Totts’ first goal last Sunday with Sokratis fouling Son) then we’ll stifle one of their primary strengths.
This is a game where we’ll see just how good this team are when they’re a little bit fatigued having just played two big games. In the last few seasons this has been a classic game in which we’ve laboured to a draw or had our noses bloodied. That could happen today if the players aren’t on it and the hope is that the new Emery regime isn’t underestimating the opposition today.
Have a good one and let’s hope for three points come 5pm.