Happy December to you! Our man Arsene picked a very strong starting XI on Wednesday, leading to the Huddersfield thrashing. The final score ended 5-0 to the Arsenal.
The score is impressive, but the game was actually fairly tight for the most part, with Arsenal up only 1-0 after the first 45. Aaron Ramsey impressed, but Mesut Ozil stole the show with two assists and one beautiful goal.
The team faces a tough test on Saturday, however, as Wenger’s rival Jose Mourinho comes to North London.
Watching the game, you just felt like something big may have been coming. The visitors barely had enough time to get a foot on the ball when Lacazette combined with Ramsey to open their back line like a bag of chips.
The Frenchman’s cool finish reminded fans of just why we were all so excited to see him sign and set the stage for what would eventually come.
However, Huddersfield fought back very well and showed just why they made it to the Premiership. While Arsenal dominated possession, they couldn’t break the defense down again, just like against Burnley.
A few players also seemed to take it easy, especially as the halftime whistle approached, leaving the door open for one or two counter-attacks. Petr Cech, as usual, kept his concentration and kept his sheet clean through the interval.
After the half, fans got a dose of bad news as Alex Lacazette had to come off with an injury for Olivier Giroud. The second half started the way the first ended, without much attacking progress from the Gunners, but in a flurry of goals, the team pulled away from their guests.
In just four minutes, three different players found the back of the net for Arsenal. Giroud, Alexis and Ozil all got on the score sheet, while Ozil and Ramsey split the three assists between them (2 for Ozil, 1 for Ramsey).
Giroud added one more just before full time, assisted by Kolasinac, to wrap the game up in style.
Speaking of style, that is just one adjective you could pick to describe the rapid-fire way in which the team took the goals. Giroud’s first was a master-class in how to move opponents around, while Sanchez’s finish proved how cool of a customer he is.
Finishing the Huddersfield Thrashing
Mesut Ozil’s chip (or maybe reverse chip, since he hit it into the ground first) was the sublime cherry on the top of the cake of ecstasy at the Emirates.
While fans will probably not look back at this game years down the road and remember it as a classic, after all we were supposed to win, however this year it could be important as a statement game.
After some bad results, especially on the road, this year the team can take heart that yes, they really are a quality team.
Les boss was happy, although not over the moon, with the result and after the game commented about the team’s short-comings on the day,
“I felt that I was not pleased with everything, but we started well and I think after that we slowly lost a bit of our edge, the urgency in our game and a little bit as well in the second half we gave them one or two chances. We missed as well the second goal, but after that, once we scored, we played with freedom, with drive, with creativity and our link play became fantastic to watch in the last 20 minutes.
I’m convinced that we played with a bit of fear at one-nil at some stage because we didn’t play with the freedom, the passes didn’t come early enough. We played a bit inhibited and when we scored the second goal everybody was suddenly had more movement and passed the ball quicker, they struggled as well maybe and thought that was game over. Maybe we benefited as well from the fact that they had to give a lot for 70 minutes and they collapsed a little bit in the last 20.”
So, there is still work to do, but when facing an opponent who is going to sit in all day, I suppose it is tough to keep your focus. Still, for a club to make the top four, they need to do what they did on Wednesday; beat the minnows.
Manchester United Preview
After the Huddersfield thrashing, Lacazette (and Cazorla) are out for Arsenal, but despite Alexis coming off early midweek, he is expected to play and has trained with the team on Friday.
Jose Mourinho has a question mark in his squad, as summer-signing Nemanja Matic went off injured against Watford on Wednesday. The United manager has confirmed Matic will travel with the team, but isn’t sure if he will be fit enough to start (or feature).
Marouane Fellaini missed the clash with the Hornets, and is expected to miss out at the Emirates, as is Phil Jones (surprised?). Michael Carrick has yet to make an appearance since his procedure (irregular heartbeat), but is in training.
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made four substitute appearances thus far, so he may not be far away from his first start of the year.
Arsenal have, since the end of August anyway, been in fairly good form in the Premier League. They’ve won three in a row (Huddersfield, Burnley, Hots***) and 8 of their last 11 (7W 1D 2L).
Overall, as you already know, the Gunners have won every single game at the Emirates so far this season.
Away from home, Man United have played 7, won 3, drawn 2 and lost 2. They have also won three on the bounce (Watford, Brighton, Newcastle), but only 6 of their last 11 (6W 2D 3L).
The Red Devils haven’t won away to Arsenal since November 2014, and the Gunners won the same fixture last season by a score of 2-0.
The major question mark for Arsenal is who to replace Lacazette with. Danny Welbeck is fit again, perhaps not for a full 90 but you know he wants to play against his former employers, and he did get the second goal in this fixture last year.
However, I think that the start up top should go to Olivier Giroud. On Wednesday he popped up and scored a brace in 45 minutes, and let’s not forget Mourinho’s style (or lack thereof) when travelling away from Old Trafford.
Likely he will park the bus, or at least come close to it, so having a proper target man as a number 9 would allow the team to not just try and walk it in.
I certainly don’t think Welbeck would be a bad choice, but especially since he’s recently returned from injury, let’s let him make a cameo off the bench, and make sure we’ve got plenty of cover for the (seemingly) inevitable injury crisis later in the year.
No other new injuries, so it would probably be best to keep the rest of the team together, even if that means leaving our beloved Jack Wilshere on the bench again. Like the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Especially when it comes to defense. I’m sure you’ve seen the stats by now, the Koscielny/Mustafi/Monreal combination has yet to concede a goal this year, so Wenger really doesn’t want to mess with that chemistry.
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s only a matter of time until Ibra makes a full return, and with Jose’s old rival on the opposite touchline, this may be that match. Even if Lukaku plays instead, this is a dangerous United team.
What else could I predict?
Not only is it Manchester United, but they are being managed by the man we all love to hate. Arsenal also have form on their side, and have had decent success against the Red Devils ever since Fergie Time officially expired for the last time.
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester United
I think if any team can snap the shutout streak for our back line, it will be one that sports Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but as strong as they are right now, I just feel as though Arsenal have really hit their stride this season.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images