It took the contortion and lift off of all 5’6 of Lucas Torreira to produce an overhead kick seven minutes from the end to settle the last fixture between Arsenal and Huddersfield. The Terriers were sturdy, the Gunners barely created enough but Torreira’s acrobatic finish forced Unai Emery’s side into a 21 game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Arsenal face Huddersfield on Saturday in a different mood after they were soundly outplayed and defeated by Manchester City. There wasn’t much to glean other than Pep Guardiola’s men being miles ahead of the Gunners. Sergio Aguero, who took the match ball home, had more shots on target than the entire Arsenal side combined.
It is why the fixture against bottom-placed Huddersfield comes around at the right time. Unai Emery’s wards could easily flush the loss out of their systems and focus on their pursuit of a top-four spot, having slipped into sixth position.
These days Huddersfield are not as sturdy defensively, though their burly defender Zanka has impressed on some turfs across the Premier League.
The Terriers are coming off a resounding 5-0 defeat to Chelsea, and are currently on a 12-game win-less run.
In spite of Arsenal’s poor record on the road, after three consecutive losses, and their current defensive injury troubles, Huddersfield do not possess a potent attacking threat to hurt them. A miserly 13 goals scored in the Premier League this season is evidence of that.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will be expected to find their shooting boots against Jan Siewert’s side, especially with Mesut Ozil likely to return to the starting lineup.
Unai Emery should call on the services of Ozil after the playmaker was benched for the tough test at the Etihad. The German is currently undergoing a complicated phase in his Arsenal career. The club’s highest-earning player is deemed good enough to start against lesser opposition but is cast to the sidelines when the Gunners face tougher tests. The playmaker has not featured in Arsenal’s last five games against teams in the top six.
Despite Emery’s probable distrust of Ozil’s credentials against top opposition because of his weak defensive contributions to the team, he remains a sharp tool in cutting through packed defences with undisputable creativity. On our analytics tool, the German ranks 17th in defensive contributions in the Arsenal team while he is fifth in attacking contributions.
The fixture at the John Smith’s stadium could also offer a proper introduction for Denis Suarez, after his unfortunate 24-minute cameo at the Etihad.
It will be intriguing to see how Emery plans to deploy the on-loan Barcelona midfielder in the Arsenal side. Will the Spaniard use his former Valencia pupil in the hole behind the striker or prefer him in the half-space towards the wing?