Huddersfield 1-2 Arsenal: Alex Iwobi and Alex Lacazette seal vital victory in hunt for Champions League spot
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal travelled to west Yorkshire to take on Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Read on for Layth Yousif’s match report from the John Smiths Stadium.
Two first half goals from Alex Iwobi and Alex Lacazette sealed a vital 2-1 victory at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
The Gunners held firm against a determined Terriers side who could count themselves unfortunate not to have got something out of the game – despite Adama Diakhaby grabbing a consolation with seconds remaining.
Before the match the talk was again about Mesut Ozil – who did not travel to west Yorkshire through ‘illness’, the seventh separate occasion in his Gunners career he has missed a match through an unspecified issue.
Also missing through an illness, believed to be a heavy cold, was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang while Aaron Ramsey did not play due to a knee injury. Granit Xhaka was absent with a groin complaint.
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Unai Emery opted for a back three in Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal with Seas Kolasinac on the left flank and Ainsley Mailtand-Niles on the right acting as auxiliary wingers.
They surely had to be. Otherwise the Gunners could have been accused of fielding a back five against a rock-bottom side on only 11 points, a massive 12 points behind 17th place Burnley – which would surely have raised eyebrows at the attacking intent of the visitors.
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Emery described the match as a must-win earlier this week. With the Gunners four points off fourth place Manchester United prior to kick-off after the Red Devils beat Fulham 3-0 in the lunchtime fixture he was not far wrong.
On 15 minutes Iwobi, positioned at the back post, fired home a cross from Sead Kolasinac to put the Gunners ahead.
A spell of Terriers pressure saw appeals for a penalty turned down when the ball appeared to strike Koscielny’s midrift after Aaron Mooy’s corner saw Jason Puncheon fire the ball at the Gunners captain.
On closer inspection it did appear to make contact with the French central defender’s hand - which was down by his side - but it would have been a harsh referee to award a spot-kick in that situation, and Jon Moss was not that man. Much to the ire of the home support.
With moments remaining Maitland-Niles swept the ball to Lacazette in the centre of the box for the former Lyon striker to guide home and make it 2-0.
While it was harsh on the battling Terriers from Arsenal’s point of view it was a crucial goal to score at a crucial time as they went into the break in a dominant if slightly fortuitous position.
Six minutes into the second half the Terriers prompted a great save by Leno after Mooy and Terence Kongolo played an excellent one-two, before the left-back picked out Adama Diakhaby at the back post. Adama struck his effort first time but was denied by Leno’s superb reflexes and anticipation.
As the clock ticked down Iwobi could have made it three after Mkhitaryan sent him through but a smart save from the well-positioned Ben Hamer blocked his effort.
Terriers substitute Laurent Depoitre angled a low drive just past Leno’s right post with ten minutes remaining.
However the Gunners were always in control as new signing Denis Suarez replaced the tiring Mkhitaryan late on with the Gunners clinching a vital three points while hammering a further blow to Huddersfield’s hopes of avoiding relegation.
A result which left Jan Siewart’s side still looking for their first win under the new manager despite Karlan Grant’s late effort cleared off the line by Koscielny before Diakhaby pulled a consolation back with seconds remaining.