First-half goals from Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazatte secured a 2-1 win
for Arsenal at struggling Huddersfield on Saturday and kept the pressure on
Chelsea and Manchester United in a three-way battle for a Champions League
However, their Spanish manager Unai Emery still awaits his first away clean
sheet of the campaign after Arsenal conceded a late consolation.
The Gunners moved to within a point of fourth-placed Manchester United, who
beat Fulham 3-0 on Saturday, and level on points with fifth placed Chelsea, who
are away at Manchester City on Sunday.
The opening goal owed much to good fortune, and bad goalkeeping, but was
still just reward for an Arsenal side that had been steadily building pressure.
Three times, inside the space of as many minutes, the Gunners ripped through
the left-hand side of Huddersfield’s defence, with a magnificent tackle by
Terence Kongolo on Lacazatte denying what looked the best of those chances.
But on 15 minutes, Arsenal took a deserved lead from a free-kick taken
quickly inside their own half.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan sent Sead Kolasinac away down Arsenal’s right and his
hanging cross was met by Iwobi with a first-time volley which took a deflection
off Kongolo but should have been kept out by Ben Hamer.
For a Huddersfield side without a win, and with just one draw, in their
previous dozen league games, conceding so early might have been a springboard
to disaster but their initial response was positive.
There was a strong penalty appeal from home supporters after a powerful shot
from Jason Puncheon struck Laurent Koscielny, who clearly handled as the ball
struck him although unintentionally, according to referee Jonathan Moss.
Not until the 39th minute was Hamer forced into a meaningful save, and that
a routine one, as Mkhitaryan struck a weak shot directly at him.
The timing of the second goal, therefore, was particularly welcome for Emery
who punched the air in celebration as Lacazette tapped the ball into an open
net in the final minute of the first half.
Mkhitaryan’s break on goal ended with him being stopped by three defenders
but he slipped the ball wide to Maitland-Niles whose low cross found an
unmarked Lacazette for a far-post finish.
If Emery had appeared unhappy with elements of Arsenal’s first half play, he
was even more animated in the opening exchanges of the second as his defence
showed why keeping a clean sheet on their league travels had been beyond them
Maitland-Niles suffered a rush of blood to the head and made an appalling
clearance, directly to Adama Diakhaby, 25 yards from goal, whose first-time
shot was dealt with, comfortably enough, by Bernd Leno.
Erik Durm’s deflected cross just cleared the Arsenal goal and Diakhaby
almost turned in Jason Puncheon’s far-post drive as Huddersfield maintained
The home side finished strongly with Laurent Depoitre flashing a shot inches
wide and Nacho Monreal being required to clear off the line from Karlan Grant.
And deep in injury-time, Diakhaby broke clear on goal, lifted the ball over
Leno and watched as Kolasinac turned into his own goal via an unfortunate
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