If there was ever a match I felt more confident about, it would be a home match against a struggling, relegation placed, Huddersfield Town. But once again the Premier League proved that even the smallest of teams can give the giants a scare, and they did just that.
This seemed like the type of game Unai Emery would use to rest some of his key players ahead of a very busy December, and a lot of people were hoping that the likes of Torreira, in particular, would be rested for this match to give him a break from the shifts he put in against Tottenham and Man United. I however, was hoping he’d play a strong squad, get a good lead and then take Torreira off to rest. The manager went on to say that he was going to give this match 100%, as not getting a win against Huddersfield would make the draw at United pointless. I was ecstatic to hear this, as a lot of managers make the mistake of underestimating smaller clubs in the Premier League, and get bit in the arse more often than not.
Image courtesy of Arsenal on Twitter @Arsenal
The boss put out an interesting squad to say the least. With Holding out for the rest of the season due to a ruptured knee ligament, this meant that our veteran Stephan Lichtsteiner would take his place, only on the right. Emery then also decided to play all three of our prospective defensive midfielders in the center of the pitch. Of those 3, it seemed like Guendouzi would have more of a free role going forward, and it seemed to me like he was given the responsibility of being the creator in the centre. No Iwobi or Mhkitaryan starting, which I was a little bit bleak about because I thought they could use this game to rack up more minutes and potentially increase their confidence. We need our players firing on all cylinders for this December period and these two haven’t been bringing anything to the table as of late. However, Emery went with a new formation on Saturday, playing a 3-5-2, with Aubameyang and Lacazette starting alongside each other as the front 2. I was damn sure that they would at least get a goal each. Oh, how wrong I was.
The match also saw Paul Tierney officiate his first game at the Emirates, and boy, I really hope it’s his last there. This ref was so inconsistent with his decisions and calls, which pissed the Arsenal fans off immensely. Three bookings given to our players for dives, where only one of those was the probably the right call, and that was Guendouzi’s dive in the box around the 80th minute. Perhaps the kid thought it was the only way we were going to get a goal and tried to help us out, but such behaviour is embarrassing and very Tottenham-like. I really hope that’s the last time we see that from him. Huddersfield however, also had two dives, and had no yellow cards for either. The worst decision on the day was probably the one which saw Lacazette’s goal disallowed in the first half. A horrible back pass gave the Frenchman the opportunity to take advantage and put it in the net, but oh…what’s that? The officials decided to call it offside. F***ing ridiculous.
It wasn’t the best of matches to be honest. Huddersfield’s offence hardly threatened us, but they were keeping a tight defence at the back and denying us where they could. Aubameyang and Lacazette both had brilliant chances in the first half to give us a comfortable lead, but sadly none of them capitalised on them. Laca at least put it in the net afterwards, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, the goal was unfairly ruled offside. It wasn’t until the 82nd minute that we finally scored. Guendouzi played a beautiful ball into the box which Auba brought down brilliantly. Auba couldn’t get his shot off, but improvised and chipped the ball into the box, where our little Uruguayan lion was waiting ever so patiently. Torreira, having been denied by a brilliant save in the first half by Lössl, decided that this time, the keeper wasn’t going to get to it, as he leapt up in the air and smashed the ball past Lössl with an acrobatic volley that left the rest of us, and Bellerin, astounded.
Image courtesy of Stuart MacFarlane on Twitter @Stuart_PhotoAFC
Scenes. The whole Emirates erupted after being disappointingly quiet for majority of the second half. The “One-nil to the Arsenal” chant followed shortly and it felt like everything was at ease again. Ref decided to add the majority of the first half’s stoppage time onto the second half’s stoppage time, and coughed out an extra 7 minutes which would’ve made Alex Ferguson proud. Is Tierney under Fergies payroll? Perhaps, but we were able to see it through until the final whistle. Arsenal 1 – 0 Incompetent Refs & Huddersfield. Bernd Leno finally got his first Premier League clean sheet and we extended our unbeaten run to 21 games! Wow.
I’ve rated the players here, but the man of the match award was given to who other than Lucas Torreira. That’s his 5th MOTM award in the last six games! Signing of the season? Most probably, but he had this to say after the match:
I am really happy, really happy. I work really hard throughout the week to make these moments happen at the weekend, because that’s the most important thing.
These goals help the team to keep winning, keep improving and keep building confidence. We have a fantastic team and a great group and we enjoy playing together.
The goal is for the fans too – they show up every week and follow us to all the different stadiums. They’re always there so this goal is for them first and foremost.
Arsenal fans are absolutely adoring him! So much so that Sampdoria FC had to ask Arsenal fans to stop flooding their Twitter timeline with #ThanksForTorreira tweets! You’ve got to love him! Our little Uruguayan maestro has saved our skins this time and it’s only right that Emery gives him a proper rest this week. We’re up against Qarabag at the Emirates on Thursday, and because we’re already through to the knockout round, you can expect Emery to play the youngsters and give the more senior players a rest. Who knows, maybe Koscielny will feature for us on Thursday night as well? Hopefully we get the win to take us to 22 unbeaten going into the Southampton game. We’ll be without Mustafi and Sokratis for that one, but I’m sure Koscielny and Monreal will be able to help us out there.
Come on you Gunners!