In the end it was ‘job done’ thanks to an acrobatic finish from Torreira with about seven minutes remaining on the clock, but you can hardly say it was a vintage performance again from the team, as we struggled to break down a dogged but ultimately technically limited Huddersfield team.
The big questions as we always have these days is who gets the nod and what the formation will be and Emery once again went with the back three and wing backs, seeing Lichtsteiner come in for the injured Holding. Xhaka’s return was a welcome one and seeing Auba and Laca both start alongside each other gave me hope that we’d be banging on the door of Huddersfield from the off.
But this Arsenal team is no ‘First Half FC’ and once again there was barely anything of note in the opening 45 worth talking about. Auba uncharacteristically dragged a shot wide of the right post, whilst Laca has a goal wrongly chalked off for offside. It’s a strange one because as soon as the defender has control of the ball it’s a ‘second phase’ of play and so when he touches back Lacazette shouldn’t be ruled offside. It hasn’t caused us too much consternation because ultimately we won the game, but you can’t exactly say it was a good decision on a day where the officials were pretty cack it has to be said.
Xhaka, Mustafi and Guendouzi all went in to the book for diving and whilst the Guendouzi fall down was up my end and weak, the Xhaka one I’m not so sure of and the Mustafi one definitely looked like he didn’t dive. What’s more irksome is that Depoitre also went down theatrically with a minute or two to go and yet despite waving it away the ref did nothing. He wasn’t a good ref and didn’t have a great grasp or control of the game and it showed. Huddersfield came to time waste and I understand that, but as a ref you need to enforce change in players when they do that. There’s no point being forceful and rigid on one rule (diving) and then completely ignoring another (time wasting). It creates inconsistencies and makes you look like a tool.
Which that ref is.
But like I said ultimately we won and that’s the important thing. It was a pretty good finish actually and once again it came from Torreira who found himself in the box unmarked and he made no mistake. He had a good game all afternoon and he’s fast becoming the linchpin of this Arsenal team. Terror like in the tackle, composed with the ball at his feet and in tight situations, plus he can find a man with his longer range distribution. He’s a big part of why this winning run has now stretched to 21 games and one hopes that he can keep it going because if he does we have a big chance to get to Christmas with that run still in tact.
Emery changed style and formation in the second half bringing off Laca and Lichtsteiner for Iwobi and Mkhitaryan and whilst I thought the Armenian was still more lively than he’s been in the last couple of games, Iwobi was poor I thought. His first touch was abysmal and his passing was off on an afternoon when getting that final pass inch perfect is essential when you are up against a team content to sit deep and try to nick a point.
And that’s what Huddersfield came for. They were physical in the tackle, they never really ventured forward or caused Leno too many problems, so the result was really about whether Arsenal would be able to break them down over the duration of the game.
We did eventually and we keep marching on. It’s a shame because everyone else around us keeps winning too, but that just means we have to keep ourselves going and hope we can get to Christmas with a few other teams dropping points.
Back tomorrow with more thoughts on stuff.