Arsenal moved to within just one point of fourth-placed Manchester United with a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town.
Alex Iwobi gave Arsenal the lead after 15 minutes with a volley which wrong-footed the goalkeeper via the slightest of deflections and Alexandre Lacazette doubled the advantage just before half-time.
Huddersfield scored a late consolation goal as Sead Kolasinac put the ball into his own net but it was not enough to stop Arsenal from taking all three points.
But what did we learn from the match?
1. Arsenal end winless away run
One of the biggest reasons for Arsenal falling away slightly in the race for the top four has been their away form, coinciding with Manchester United’s revival.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 9, 2019
Going into the match at the John Smith’s Stadium, the Gunners had failed to win in their last six Premier League away games with two draws and four defeats. Two of those defeats may have been expected, at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester City, but the Gunners also fell to Southampton and West Ham leading some Arsenal fans to fear a repeat of 2018 in which they had to wait until May for their first away win.
Then it ended in Arsene Wenger’s final game in charge of the club, a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield. And the Terriers were once again the victims of Arsenal’s away revival this year though they made it hard for the Gunners.
Arsenal weren’t at their best with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey missing, allowing Huddersfield far too much time on the ball. However, these were the games the Gunners had been losing in the past.
Understandably, Arsenal fans will want to see better football against lower teams, but in the race for fourth place, they will be grateful for the three points.
2. Huddersfield’s striking problems let them down again
Despite going in at half-time 2-0 down, Huddersfield had enjoyed a good portion of attacking play with Adama Diakhaby doing particularly well down the right flank.
But, as has been the case in most matches this season, the Terriers were let down by their striking options. In Huddersfield’s 25 Premier League games prior to the Arsenal meeting, just one of their six forwards had found the net – Steve Mounie. In some cases, this may be normal with one player carrying the team forward, but the Beninese striker has managed just one goal in 21 appearances.
Against Arsenal, Elias Kachunga was given the starting role among recognised strikers, but the Congolese actually played out wide with Jason Puncheon filling the role as an obscure false nine.
However, it did not work out. For all Diakhaby’s hard work down the wing, giving Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolašinac a tough game, the Frenchman had no one to cross to in the middle with Laurent Koscielny having no problem heading his compatriot’s balls out of danger.
And Huddersfield were made to pay for this with Arsenal making the most of their own attacking opportunities through Iwobi and Lacazette.
Even when the Terriers did find the net it was through an Arsenal player as Sead Kolasinac tapped the ball into his own net.
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3. Bernd Leno’s wait goes on
It looked like it was finally about to happen at the 10th time of asking. With Arsenal cruising to victory, Bernd Leno looked to be keeping his first away clean sheet in the Premier League.
The Gunners have left a lot to be desired in defence this season, conceding 36 goals in 26 games in the Premier League, as they have had to deal with injuries and mindless errors.
As a result, Arsenal have kept just four clean sheets, all of which have come at the Emirates, with the Gunners’ last league clean sheet away from home coming on the final day of last season – against Huddersfield.
And it looked as though the John Smith’s Stadium would be a happy hunting ground once more, until Huddersfield broke the Arsenal defence down with good play from Diakhaby. Leno saved his shot but the ball bounced into the centre of the box with Kolasinac rebounding it into his own goal.
It means Arsenal remain the only team yet to keep an away clean sheet in the Premier League this season.
4. Huddersfield’s winless run reaches 13
Things just haven’t been working out for Huddersfield this season under both David Wagner and Jan Siewert. The Terriers look all-but-certain to be back in the Championship next season, currently 13 points off safety with just 12 games left to play.
Huddersfield are also sitting on just 11 points after 26 matches, level with Derby County’s record for the lowest point tally in Premier League history achieved in the 2007/08 season.
And it is entirely feasible the Terriers could end the season without grabbing another point. The defeat at home to Arsenal has brought their 13th consecutive game without a win in the league, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football.
Of these 13 matches, Huddersfield have lost 12, with a goalless draw at Cardiff the only point gained in that run. Huddersfield fans may take some solace in noting the all-time Premier League record of most games without a win is unobtainable this season, as Derby recorded 32, but it would be the tiniest of consolations in an altogether poor season.
5. Huddersfield fans’ humour getting them through the season
Huddersfield are going down, but if their match against Arsenal was any example, the fans are refusing to allow the impending doom to get the better of them.
Without a win in 12 going into the game, it took Huddersfield just 15 minutes to fall behind again as Iwobi’s volley wrong-footed Ben Hamer. With the game offering little in terms of action for large parts of the first half, Arsenal fans tried to mock their opponents for their misfortunes.
“You’re going down,” they taunted. But it didn’t work. Rather than embarrass the Terriers fans into silence, large parts of the home crowd responded with their own version. “We’re going down,” rang around the John Smith’s Stadium with Huddersfield’s support clearly having already accepted their fate.
And that would not be it. Arsenal then tried to use their own poor form for mockery, taunting Huddersfield for trailing the Gunners at home. But, once again it did not work as Huddersfield retorted, mocking Arsenal for only leading 1-0 at the time.
Following Huddersfield’s late consolation there was time for one last self-deprecating chant as the Terriers’ fans went wild with a bouncing rendition of “We’ve scored a goal.”