Arsenal got back to winning ways today as they took down bottom of the league club, Huddersfield 2-1. The match was by no means an easy one for Arsenal as the score ultimately reflected a match where Arsenal were never really able to put the game to bed. Many second half opportunities went to waste as Arsenal’s quality in the final third was lacking. Huddersfield presented a very respectable and passionate challenge for a club struggling to get a win let alone score a goal. However, one goal was what they got and perhaps deserved more.
Arsenal were especially dangerous in the counter attacking phase with both Alex Iwobi and Henrik Mkhitaryan providing much of the link up from the midfield to Lacazette in the first half. Iwobi was especially impressive in the first half with numerous one on one dribbles and chances created. He also managed to net a goal off the volley, which took a deflection. Mkhitaryan was also effective in retrieving the ball out wide and moving into dangerous positions on the pitch. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was also effective on the right flank. His low pass across the goal to Lacazette proved his effectiveness to Unai Emery.
However, Huddersfield were a constant threat in possession with many chances going astray likely down to a lack of confidence. Their passion and commitment was on full display, and the home supporters showed their appreciation for the sides drive. Arsenal never truly looked comfortable with their three in the back formation. Mustafi made some questionable decisions with clearing the ball, which may have been the result of the constant pressure by Huddersfield players when they lost possession. Koscielny was the much needed anchor in the defense to ensure that they did not give up more than one goal. His skill in being able to clear and track down threatening positions by the opponents demonstrated the need for more defensive reinforcements over the summer.
The scoreline provided a correct assessment for the game. Arsenal were extremely dangerous in the first half on the counter, but never seemed to reach their best in the second half. Many sloppy clearances and passes, the result of effective and determined pressure by the Huddersfield players, never allowed the Gunners to secure a comfortable victory. Emery would have been pleased with an away win, but certainly recognized the inability for constant link up play with the midfield and Lacazette in the second half. The defense was also more vulnerable during the final twenty minutes of the half, and Huddersfield were finally able to make Arsenal pay for allowing them to stay in the match.
Arsenal will need to do better against more quality opposition. Better sides, such as Manchester City last weekend, were able and will be able to cut of the connection with the midfield and the forwards. A more attacking and possessive tactical approach will be necessary to keep the ball in the opposition’s half for longer stretches of the game. A win is a win, and Arsenal are able to stay on level points with Chelsea for 5th in the Premier League, but with Manchester United on top form since Ole Solskjaer take over as manager, the Gunners have a true fight on their hands to secure Champions League football through the League.
Arsenal will not play another Premier League match until 24 February when they take on Southampton at home at 9:05 EST. In the meantime Arsenal will play their two fixtures against Bate Borisov in the Europa League in the attempt to recreate the success that Unai Emery had found with Sevilla to win the competition and secure Champions League qualification. Emery will be hoping to see the return of both Ramsey and Aubameyang to the side, but his apparent exclusion of Ozil continues to puzzle supporters as his quality in possession may be most needed in future matches.