Arsenal-Huddersfield: What Did We Learn

Why can't you do it without me?

I feel it's too late to do a full blown tactical analysis of Arsenal-Huddersfield, but having watched the second half again, there are a few things that should be remarked on, and in the spirit of the Guardian's 5 Things We Learned, here are 5 Things that I found interesting/learned.

1. Cesc Fabregas is really important for Arsenal

Well, obviously Fabregas is important for Arsenal, but it might not be any more clear cut this season than the two hoem FA Cup games, Leeds and Huddersfield. Against Leeds he scored the equalising penalty, but was key to bringing some fluidity to a very cumbersome attack. On Sunday, Arsenal were struggling; down to 10 men and had just conceded the equalising goal. Outmanned in the midfield by Huddersfield's 4-3-3 (Arsenal were playing a 4-4-1, with Denilson and Diaby in the middle; when Rosicky came in to become the third man in the middle, Arsenal became overrun on the left), they kept on losing the ball in the midfield and were under lots of pressure. Fabregas changed that and completely turned the game around.

 

He didn't pass the ball in midfield, as they were still a man light, but he went long and found Bendtner on a couple of occasions; one of them saw Bendtner taken down for what should've been a free kick and red card. By playing long he was able to avoid the pressure in midfield and then Arsenal were able to push up and begin to control the midfield. They finally got the goal they deserved, and it was Fabregas at the heart of it, winning the ball back and then passing to Bendtner. He really is a world class player, and, perhaps the only Arsenal player irreplaceable. 

 

2. Sebastien Squillaci cannot play a high line

It is becoming painfully obvious that Sebastien Squillaci is not working at Arsenal. Having formed a good partnership with Johan Djourou (despite conceding the most amount of shots, they've conceded the least amount of goals per minute, as The Backwards Gooner posted here), his partnership with Laurent Koscielny has been very poor. One possible reason for this is because of Koscielny's aggressive style, Squillaci is forced to come out and play a high line in order to keep players offside. While it's alright when Djourou partners Koscielny because of his pace, Squillaci doesn't have that pace, and he got himself in a bad position when he was sent off; he was too square, too high and in no man's land. Arsene Wenger did not get a centre back during the transfer window, so either Squillaci will have to be partnered with Djourou or the defensive tactic will have to change when he plays with Koscielny. 

3. Despite criticsms, Denilson had an ok game

Denilson is a player that is heavily criticised by many Arsenal fans, and to be fair, he does have his faults. He is not the most creative player, nor is he the most physical, and he does fall over a lot (GET LONGER STUDS, MAN!). However, on Sunday, despite being at partial fault for the sending off, he had a decent game. Although Arsenal couldn't keep possession in the midfield for a large chunk of the middle part of the game, Denilson only made 4 bad passes out of 102. Sure, a lot may have been square or backwards, but when you're on the back foot and have 10 men, retaining possession becomes extremely important, if only to give the team a break. 

4. Kieran Gibbs and Emmanuel Eboue don't work together

This is a somewhat more problematic issue, as Arsenal are only an injury to Gael Clichy away from being forced to play Gibbs and Eboue together. The problem is that both Eboue and Gibbs are better going forward defensively than defending, and although both have good recovery speed, brain freezes such as the one that saw Eboue give the ball away in his own 18 yard box, and poor positioning that allowing Pilkington to get the better of Gibbs several times would've cost Arsenal against a better team. With a back four unused to playing together, these types of defensive errors can be extremely costly, and although Gibbs may have a bright future ahead of him, Gael Clichy is a much better left back, and Bacary Sagna is vastly superior to Emmanuel Eboue. Like most of the team that played together on Sunday, it always has that feeling of not working. 

5. Nicklas Bendtner really doesn't work on the right

Again, this might not have been something that we actually learned on Sunday, but it's another nail in the coffin of Bendtner's right wing career. Although he scored a goal (heavily deflected), his general play on the right wasn't as good as it was against Ipswich, where he switched wings with Andrey Arshavin and cut in from the left, which is one of his preferred moves. Being on the right strands him a bit, and although he got involved a lot in the first 30 minutes, he seemed heavily out of sync. Maybe Andrey Arshavin should've played on the right, but in the second half Bendtner was much better, holding the ball up, and winning headers for knockdowns like he did for Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal may have a bit of a selection problem with Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner, but if they both are to be played, Bendtner is much better on the left than he is on the right. 

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