Arsenal (0) 1 Huddersfield Town (0) 0
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Saturday, 8th December 2018. Kick-off time: 3.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno: Bellerín, Mustafi, Sokratis, Lichtsteiner; Torreira, Xhaka; Guendozi, Kolašinac, Aubameyang. Lacazette
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Koscielny, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Monreal, Nketiah.
Yellow Cards: Lichtsteiner; Mustafi, Sokratis, Xhaka, Guendouzi.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Before us, it was them. Theirs was the star that illuminated the third decade of the twentieth century. They were the first club to win three championships in a row, (followed by two runners-up positions in the corresponding seasons), also four FA Cup finals in sixteen years, winning the trophy just once, along with the Charity (now Community) Shield in the same season. They were our opponents in the 1930 FA Cup Final, when a brace of goals from Alex James and Jack Lambert not only assured our first cup final win, but ensured that the football pendulum drifted gently south from Leeds Road to Highbury. We share common ground after all; we have the same father. His name was Herbert Chapman, simply the greatest club manager the English game has ever seen, bar none. Although their fortunes have waxed and waned over the years, we still hold The Terriers in a special place, and we unreservedly welcome the players, supporters and officials of this unique West Yorkshire football club to our stadium this afternoon, and genuinely wish them well on their sometimes difficult journey battling their way through the lower half of the Premiership. Take care out there old friends, yours is a hard road to hoe.
On this cold December aftrnoon in North London, there appeared to be a very slow start to the match, which perhaps showed the cautiousness of the home side and the fears of the visitors. Arsenal managed to dominate possession in the first half, and although we were by far the better side with several spirited chances, frustratingly we squandered them by being too hasty in front of the Huddersfield goal. Frustration became the order of the day with five bookings across both sides by referee Paul Tierney within five minutes, with perhaps the worst one being a bad foul committed by Danny Williams, their pugnacious United States international full-back. A few minutes before the break, Alexandre Lacazette got the ball into the back of the net only to see it cancelled out for a debatable offside decision; when the half-time whistle came, the mood in the stadium was a bizarre mixture of confusion and anger.
Immediately after the restart, Mr, Emery made two important substitutions, with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alexandre Lacazette being replaced by Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Admiitedly, the match went up a few notches with the influence of the new substitutes becoming evident in the early stages of the half, but yet again frustration set in quickly. There were noble attempts on both goals, and the match saw more bookings, and with no surprise to anyone, Arsenal used their last subsitute as a final fresh throw of the dice; on the pitch came Nacho Monreal, who replaced the injured Shkodran Mustafi with 25 minutes of the game remaining. However, Arsenal were both patient and relentless, so when Lucas Torreira’s excellent bicycle kick caught the Huddersfield goalkeeper off-guard to score (what turned out to be) the only goal of the game, the relief on the Arsenal bench was there for everyone to see, so when the final whistle was blown, our supporters left the stadium with the satisfaction of three points in the bag.
Well then. As usual, our second half performance had more excitement in it than the first, but 21 matches unbeaten across all competitions somehow tells its own story. We were gritty and dogged and kept the pressure up on the visitors, even when yellow cards were being handed out for what seemed to be the most minor of offences. The one concerning issue is that of the defence, with Rob Holding not returing to the first team until next season, and Shkodran Mustafi hobbling off with a hamstring injury. However, all this aside, we won again, and we are putting pressure on the Premiership leaders. Mr. Chapman would be pleased. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.