The Herbert Chapman derby, as it were, ended in an Arsenal win.
The game perhaps wasn’t the best, but I’m sure Mr Chapman is looking down and happy to see both of his prodigy performing in the top division.
His Yorkshire former club is certainly going down this season – though on this showing they played decently in parts and lacked the cutting edge to truly threaten us.
His North London prodigy got the win of course, but we did so since we had better forwards and players overall. Plain and simple.
The starting line-up showed a 3421, or maybe a 433, as Ozil didn’t feature and neither did Aubameyang. The latter had an illness, but then it’s natural he would miss some games here and there. Otherwise, the line-up was strong, and Guendouzi featured again with Torreira.
The first-half in terms of possession was mixed, but we dominated it via chances and of course goals. Our first chance was from Iwobi, who was quite sharp throughout the game. He combined well with Maitland-Niles, and he really should have squared the ball to Laca or Mkhi, instead of shooting into the side-netting.
Another chance came to Mkhi, to receive a cutback but could only hit the keeper.
The opening goal, however, was from the left. Kolasinac gained another assist but managed to get in a high cross which Iwobi converted on the volley well. It may have taken a slight deflection as it went in, but who cares? It was 1-0 to the Arsenal, and a goal Iwobi deserved based on his performance to that point. He was incisive, demonstrating great dribbling and pace, and was causing great trouble to the Huddersfield defence.
After 25 minutes or so, we dropped off a bit, and Huddersfield started to pass the ball well. They didn’t really fashion many chances, but they still showed some good footballing capabilities, despite being doomed to the Championship, seemingly.
But towards the end of the half, we made some good counter-attacks, and ultimately got our second from them. Maitland-Niles did well on the right and crossed to Laca who scored a sharp volley.
It was comfortable, but the second half in some ways mirrored the first-half.
Huddersfield again had possession but did have a good opportunity via Depoitre, which narrowly missed the far post. They should be commended for trying to play football amidst their imminent relegation, but then we also had chances to score.
Iwobi was through on goal, and really should have got a brace here. He seemed to have panicked when shooting, but better placement could have seen a goal.
Elneny came on in the second half, and he and Laca had a miscommunication when he headed a ball that Laca was lining up to shoot.
The goal we conceded was comical – but par for the course concerning our overall defensive picture. It may have been a Kolasinac own-goal, but we gifted them a goal when they hadn’t scored in many matches. It really highlighted our inability to defend properly, and this could be a major negative in our top four chances. This was the major sour point in this game, since whilst it wasn’t a classic, it was three more points to potential Champions League football next season.
If this “ugly win” means we can hear “The Champions” before a Champions League game featuring Arsenal next season, I’ll take it.
As aforementioned, this wasn’t a stellar performance. It wasn’t prime “sexy football”. But we did enough, in my view at the least, to warrant the win. Huddersfield had possession but very few testing chances to score. We had to gift them a goal, ultimately, either via poor defending or through abominably weak defensive positioning.
However, I don’t agree with the narrative I’ve seen online about this. Yes, the performance wasn’t the best. But we got the win and that is that, and three points are three points. Considering we’re in a three-horse race for the top four, and that Man United won earlier in the day, we needed the win, and we delivered it.
The Premier League doesn’t award more points for wins via sexy football. If anything, it shows we can get a result despite not playing to our optimum.
Senor Emery also got things right tactically, and it seems that Guendouzi/Torreira is his preferred partnership. I believe Xhaka is injured, but I feel Guendouzi offers more in terms of ball retention and moving the ball forward.
I was a bit concerned that Auba was out, but Laca made up for it, and should have got more. Mkhitaryan has had his critics, and in honesty, I’ve not been overly impressed with him. However, he looked sharp here today, and contributed to our superior attacking threats.
Iwobi, though, was for me our best player. He’s come under much flak, which I feel for the most part is unwarranted. I also feel that him being the nephew of the Nigerian great, Augustine “Jay-Jay” Okocha, places a lot of pressure and hype on him, which he wouldn’t have had he not have noted footballing relatives. In this game though, he got a well-taken goal, and could have more. His pace, dribbling, and technique, show that he can trouble many defences. With better end-product, via passes or shots, he can be world-class. Let’s hope he does achieve this, since he has the potential to attain it.
Of the defenders, Kos was good, though Monreal, as usual, did enough to handle their attackers. Our issues, as usual, are collective and organisational, and naturally, need urgent correction.
Our next few games are winnable, though Southampton won’t be easy given their relegation battle, and Bournemouth whilst in mid-table will want to put on a performance. We need all the points we can get, especially ahead of the Scum game at Wembley. At this rate, we may not play in their new ground until 2020, but their inability to complete it readily is ever-amusing.
Leno – 6
Maitland-Niles – 6
Kolasinac – 6
Koscielny – 6
Monreal – 5
Mustafi – 5
Torreira – 6
Guendouzi – 7
Mkhitaryan – 7
Iwobi – 8
Lacazette – 7
Elneny – 5
Suarez – 5
Willock – 5
Man of the match
As aforecited, today was proof that he can be a top-level player in years to come.