It wasn’t always comfortable or pretty, but a second half outburst papered over the cracks and carried Arsenal to a 5-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.
Arsene Wenger’s decision to play his best eleven, despite the looming tussle with Manchester United this Saturday, paid off early, as Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal the lead three minutes in courtesy of a beautiful assist from Aaron Ramsey.
Lacazette gives Arsenal the lead inside 3 minutes. Lovely little flick from Ramsey pic.twitter.com/849UpEGOHt— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) November 29, 2017
Despite a few flashes of brilliance, Arsenal’s sharp start fizzled out over the rest of the first half. Sloppy turnovers nearly let Huddersfield find an equalizer on the counterattack on multiple occasions - only a lack of a quality final ball and poor decision making let Arsenal off the hook. Huddersfield also had a legitimate claim for a penalty from a Shkodran Mustafi challenge denied late in the half.
The second half started similarly; Petr Cech was called into action twice, making an excellent kick save in the 50th minute before nearly spiking the ball into his own net on a clearance attempt a few minutes later. After a shaky 20 minutes or so, however, the Gunners stepped on the gas pedal. Shortly after hitting the post on a glorious opportunity, Olivier Giroud, a half-time substitute for Lacazette, doubled the lead in the 68th minute after some fantastic combination play by Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Giroud finishes off a brilliant attacking move from Arsenal. 2-0 pic.twitter.com/cWWJdT0EWg— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) November 29, 2017
A minute later, it was 3-0. Alexis, despite a largely poor performance, did what he does best, firing home from a perfect cross by Ozil, his second assist in two minutes. Credit to Ramsey for his excellent through ball to Ozil down the right wing.
The Mesut Ozil show continued a few minutes later, as the German latched on to another beautiful pass by Ramsey and chipped the ball over Huddersfield keeper Jonas Lossl.
Özil scores Arsenal's fourth against Huddersfield pic.twitter.com/V4johFihu9— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) November 29, 2017
By this point, Arsenal were in cruise control. Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck replaced Ramsey and Sanchez, respectively, for the last 15 minutes of the match.
Giroud capped off the day with his second, essentially stealing the ball away from Sead Kolasinac to score Arsenal’s fifth.
Giroud scores his second of the night. 5-0 Arsenal pic.twitter.com/yEOZeeNhj6— Terje (@xArsenalTerje) November 29, 2017
While the overall performance wasn’t great, the second half explosion was ridiculously fun to watch, and was probably the best Arsenal has looked all season. It should keep the positive vibes going heading into the pivotal match with Manchester United on Saturday.
Additional News & Notes
-The win was Arsenal’s 12th straight league victory in a row at the Emirates.
-Arsene Wenger confirmed after the game that Lacazette suffered a groin injury and will be out this weekend, which is a bummer.
-Nobody has scored more Premier League goals at home this season than Lacazette, who now has five.
-Arsenal has now kept three clean sheets in the Premier League in a row.
-Koscielny, Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal have started six games together this season. They have not conceded a goal.
-Liverpool won at Stoke, meaning Arsenal remain two points clear of 5th place.
On to Manchester United.