Job done as Arsenal record away win for first time in an age

Online Ed: Huddersfield defeated by goals from Iwobi and Lacazette

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Before getting over critical about a far from vintage Arsenal display against bottom of the table Huddersfield, let’s remember that the last time Unai Emery’s side won on the road in the league was on 25th November at Bournemouth. Two and a half months ago.

Certainly, Arsenal seemed to make hard work of winning a fixture that they should, in theory, have breezed through, but at the end of it, the main thing was the desperately needed three points. It keeps them on the tails of Manchester United, with the hope that only a goal or two might separate them from Chelsea in the event of a Manchester City home win tomorrow.

There were some surprises in the team selection. Aubameyang was ill, and Aaron Ramsey had a knee injury. Mesut Ozil was also ill, so let’s suspend disbelief and imagine there is something going round the players. Granit Xhaka had still not returned from his own injury. Emery opted for a back three of Mustafi – Koscielny – Monreal, with the returning Maitland- Niles and Kolasinac wide of them. He put Iwobi and the returning Mkhitaryan either side of front man Lacazette.

Arsenal were the better side in the first half, and despite some Alex Iwobi wasting plenty of opportunities before he was subbed late on, he did score the opening goal, a nice volley from a Kolasinac cross. Lacazette doubled the lead before the interval, with a nice finish after a crisp ball across the area from Maitland-Niles. There was a potential turning point at 1-0 when Koscielny got away with a handball in his own area.

At 2-0 up the visitors should have controlled the game, yet ceded too much possession to Huddersfield in the second half. They got away with it, although the reality is this was because they were playing a team that had not scored in their previous five matches. There were certainly opportunities galore. Fortunately, the home side’s solitary goal coming so deep into injury time that there wasn’t really time for them to do anything further to salvage a point. Arsenal did create a couple of chances after the interval, Iwobi having the best, but the finishing was poor, and they rarely looked like a team that was going to win by a hatful.

Still, rebuilding confidence is going to take time. Mkhitaryan had a decent enough first game back, and could keep Iwobi out of the starting eleven once Aubameyang returns. Maitland-Niles looked good at right back in the first half, although faded a little in the second. With every further match after his return from long term injury, Laurent Koscielny looks to be worth another year on his contract. Matteo Guendouzi remains competitive and spirited. There is something to build on here, but Arsenal must try to limit the number of opposition chances. Huddersfield might have scored more than one.

Arsenal have two matches against Belorussian opponents BATE Borisov before returning to domestic duty with home matches against Southampton and Bournemouth. They have a decent chance of putting together a winning sequence before the tasks get a little tougher. But even though they secured the points today, optimism isn’t in great supply when it comes to The Gunners at the moment. And that is based on their performances. Today was acceptable because they did enough to take all three points. But at times, it looked quite laboured. It’s come to the point where, I believe, because of the frequent changes to the starting line-up, even allowing for injuries, the fluidity has gone. This is down to habit and understanding. A settled formation, a settled starting eleven, might be the solution. But I don’t see Emery changing this aspect of his approach.

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  1. markymark

    Feb 12, 2019, 22:03 #113196

    Glad to see your wish delivered Ron. I loathe the smug PR that constantly comes out of UTD. That smile rubbish is just the latest. Hope they hit a major obstacle when teams figure him out. It’s not all over for 4th spot yet.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Feb 12, 2019, 12:40 #113187

    marky - good points matey and cd well be spot on though said in jest regarding Chelsea. It works for them doesn't it. On Solskaer, i dont know about you but im sick to the back teeth of hearing about the new smile on everybody face at MU. Is it a circus now or has Michael McIntre moved in? Ive never noticed very much smileyism about that club, especially with Bobby Charltons face fronting it whos always looked like hes lost a pound and found 2p! Miserable git. You make a good point though, the newness of the manager, once worn off and a few reverse results could well bring a touch of reality to it all as you say. Hopefully, he ll get em relegated at some stage soon. I think PSG will dump them out the CL to start with.

  3. markymark

    Feb 12, 2019, 12:20 #113185

    Hi Ron It is almost guaranteed that Chelsea will win the title next year after dispensing with Sarri and appointing a hungry manager called Mourinho ! Ok I’m only half joking. I’ve got a very amusing thought process that Ole will get the job then the smiling chipmunk will actually find out what’s caused the pain for the last 3 Managers. I could well be wrong but I think Ole is floating along smile of face. Nothings actually gone wrong yet. Law of averages tells me he’s going to get a bucket load of issues. If he still succeeds after that good man, I’d say

  4. itsRonagain2

    Feb 12, 2019, 11:20 #113183

    Hi Marky - playing to the strengths is what defines a better team surely? I think Utd are better man for man but /man for man' is meaningless i think. Many clubs through history have assembled better man for man teams than others but have failed to overcome other teams with inferior players. I think there s a momentum at Utd that with a couple of good signings next season that theyre guaranteed to make will see them title challenging again.

  5. itsRonagain2

    Feb 12, 2019, 10:50 #113181

    SKG - Very well put. They must see some thing in him that ive never noticed but as you say, good luck to the bloke and credit to him for making it to a club like that. He seems a good professional and as you say, in a different league to that waster Ozil.

  6. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Feb 12, 2019, 09:09 #113180

    I would not worry about United's players - apparently we have the best player in Europe, judging by the money Juve are going to pay Aaron Ramsey. Don't get me wrong, good luck to him and I hope everything works out for him in Italy, he certainly won't go hungry. We will now perhaps find out just how good is his, under different coaching and in a slower paced game that they play in Italy. I think AR is a true pro, unlike another midfield player we have on our books but 400K a week is amazing, even allowing for a "no signing on fee" in the deal. I wish him well but AR leaving will not weaken Arsenal, just like if he stayed, it would not really strengthen Arsenal, our player priorities lie elsewhere.

  7. markymark

    Feb 12, 2019, 07:36 #113179

    I’d disagree UTD are a far better side than Arsenal at the moment . After 3 managerial flops they’ve got someone to believe in but man for man I’m not sure apart from Pogba when he actually wants to play and De Gea (who may be off) . They are playing to their strengths at the moment . Not sure Arsenal are

  8. itsRonagain2

    Feb 11, 2019, 13:33 #113178

    Hi John- Most people agree with you about Iwobi and his final ball is poor at the moment. I hear you re fixtures and its largely guess work isnt it as to what will happen. I think Man U will be itching to apply the axe to Liverpools ambitions and will do. As for Chelsea, its looks like the usual mutiny is underway there. For me, its the blue and red mancs plus Liverpool and Spurs for the top 4 Cup.

  9. John F

    Feb 11, 2019, 13:00 #113177

    Hi Ron I agree Man Utd have a better team but they have a much harder fixture list compared to ours.They have still got to play Liverpool and Man City at home and Arsenal and Chelsea away.Even though Chelsea got stuffed yesterday they have a kinder fixture list with only Man utd and Spurs at home to worry about whilst we have Spurs and a very good Wolves away to drop points.I hate to say it but I think Chelsea will get fourth just pipping us with Utd 6th. Sorry mate I cannot agree on Iwobi looks the part with his running and he does introduce some width but his final decision making is poor.Reminds me of Gervinho or cone head as he is unfortunately known as.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Feb 11, 2019, 11:38 #113176

    CG - i like Iwobi too. He has his limitations and i suspect will never cure them, but hes a presence now and a hell of a grafter. We not had many with those characteristics for a long time now. Hes Parlourish.

  11. itsRonagain2

    Feb 11, 2019, 11:35 #113175

    in fairness v Huddersfield, i think they allowed themselves to go into cruise control in 2nd half so to save a bit for the Europa Cup. I think Emery rightly or wrongly has prioritised that. Cant blame him, AFC arent getting top 4 now that Man U have arrived back on the scene. Utd are a far better side than us and will make it count now. The trouble is that we re not very good at cruising and haven't been for years as we just dont have the players with the temperament or hard nosed professionalism to do it. Could see at 2-1, panic set in almost immediately. The Club and team have such a long, long way to travel before we can even look like challengers again its incredible.

  12. itsRonagain2

    Feb 11, 2019, 11:25 #113174

    Football made me very sad this week end........................................................ sad that Manch City stopped at 6. 12 would have been far nicer!! Recall being at SB our 0-6 destruction there and listening to those vile moronic fans of theirs dishing out the bile, abuse and atrocious chants towards Wenger. I wonder how they like the taste now?

  13. The Man From UNCLE

    Feb 11, 2019, 06:03 #113173

    Take Hazard out of Chelsea's side and they are an unbelievably average unit. They're no way a class above us this season.

  14. GoonerRon

    Feb 10, 2019, 20:22 #113172

    The win was crucial so just glad to get the 3 points and run, however stodgy the second half performance was. Considering we were without 5 first team shoo in’s and 3 other creative options from the bench it’s probably a bit much to expect a fluid and incisive performance. That said, our basic passing in the second half, you know, where you give it to a team mate, was really poor. At this point I can’t work out if Emery is ultra-cautious as a manager (as playing 3 CB’s and two holding midfielders away at the bottom club would suggest) or just doesn’t trust the balance of the squad to be more solid in a flat back 4. Either way, we don’t keep many clean sheets so in my mind it makes some sense to set the team up to exploit our strengths.


    Feb 10, 2019, 19:37 #113171

    Chelsea squad is on a different level to ours at present so ain't ya glad we didn't land the chain smoking italian - an appointment that many "in the know" thought would be a very smart move? Our squad is pretty dire but, unlike many, I think Iwobi is definitely improving under Dick & with most of the new arrivals doing well plus the expectation that one or two of the kids along with Rog G, Papa & "the greek boy" will be established in a settled team next year I am expecting a big improvement in Dick's second season - if he can be arsed to stay of course. And with that generous Stanley allocating £450 mill as a summer transfer pot ( are you sure that's correct? - ed.) expectations will be sky high.

  16. RobG

    Feb 10, 2019, 18:42 #113169

    I think people criticising Emery are rushing to judgment and being way too harsh. We are - as of Sunday evening - fifth and within one point of fourth place. It's pretty clear now that it's a fight between us, Utd and Chelsea for that spot. The top three are set, bar a Spurs collapse. We could get fourth, with what would be the sixth weakest squad - that has been massively hit by injuries in defence. I think Unai is getting us to punch above our weight. At all events, the on going decline of the last four or five years has been halted. Given what he has to work with, he's doing a good job in my eyes. And he needs at least two more transfer windows to try to get the squad in his shape. We should all be behind him - guys and girls. All the way !

  17. John F

    Feb 10, 2019, 17:50 #113168

    You are right Mark i didn't see that result coming,I think that 6th goal put us above them.One thing for sure Sarri won't be given another season.

  18. John F

    Feb 10, 2019, 17:29 #113167

    You can see why opinion is beginning to divide over Emery when Arsenal played like they did yesterday. I thought we played well in the first half and you could see the way Emery is trying to impose the style of football that he had with his Spanish sides.It does look like there is a plan there as we played some good counter attacking football and we deserved to be 2 up but the second half was just awful and very hard to excuse even with the changes to the team.They completely lost the midfield against the a team that is destined to be a championship club.The passing was terrible and the players looked clueless in what to do.I still think that Dic k needs to be judged when he has his own players in and given one more season to prove himself but he needs the team to play more then one half of football like they showed against Chelsea or he could find himself in trouble.

  19. markymark

    Feb 10, 2019, 17:13 #113166

    Sometimes you need to see other teams results to gauge where you are. Chelsea will no doubt sack Sarri and have more money to throw around , but that puts our result in perspective. Arsenal under Emery are stronger at home and don’t seem to suffer as lengthy form dips. He’s also had to deal with constant central defense injury woes. The bad point is probably more about sensible pragmatic decisioning I defense . He may just need to sell the ones he can’t work with

  20. mbg

    Feb 10, 2019, 15:25 #113165

    We certainly know what's going round Ozil, Laziness and bottle.

  21. Bard

    Feb 10, 2019, 13:23 #113164

    It was an ugly win for sure, but I will take that all day long. We are very inconsistent, capable of dross and also playing really well. I see dear old Ozil was sick again, maybe not fancying a trip to Uddersfield. He suffers more sickness than any player I have ever seen at Arsenal. Ian M, some good points. My view for what it's worth is he is realises he needs to get rid of half the side but can't do that, so he is trying to make the best of it this season and maybe grab a CL spot via the Europa league. The club have to shift a load of big earners from the wage bill before he can do anything, easier said than done.

  22. DJW

    Feb 10, 2019, 12:32 #113163

    The lack of creativity in the side is frightening. No Ozil or Ramsey and it is not even mentioned. Suarez looks too lightweight though to be fair he deserves time. I get the feeling Emery has already put all his eggs in the Europa basket and is happy to limp along in the League and see what happens. The problem is when the lowest scoring team in the leagues creates chance after chance you have to have a certain amount of anxiety for our next away game at Wembley!

  23. Ian M

    Feb 10, 2019, 10:33 #113162

    Woeful stuff. To be pathetically grateful for three points agains the bottom of the league says something about where we are right now. Chelsea just cruised past them with five, while United strolled with three over the next worst. Meanwhile we get lucky with a deflection, as we did with a penalty against the equally struggling Cardiff, both sides unfortunate not to get a draw with us. On this evidence there is no particular reason to look forward to Southampton or Bournemouth as so-called 'easy' games. Where is Emery going with this? What is his best side? Does anybody, including the players, have a clue? Not on this desperate showing. And as for Emery's remarks afterwards, gibberish.

  24. The Man From UNCLE

    Feb 10, 2019, 08:25 #113161

    We'll take the win thanks, but far too many last-ditch tackles in that second half. If Iwobi squared that ball to Lacazette it's 3-0 and cigar time, but no, went for glory instead and hit the side netting. Good shift put in by Micky I thought.