Huddersfield Town: Banana Skin, Raul & Noses

Sports franchises do have one thing going for them: team names. Not nicknames which reflect the foundation of a club such as the Gunners, or a simple “The Reds” – there’s a reason clubs never wear puce-coloured shirts – but flamboyance.

You could have the hugely unoriginal “Manchester City Oilers” or “Manchester United Moaners”. “Chelsea Siberian Gulags For You”, co-mingles Vladimir Putin’s penal chain stores sponsorship of Abramovich’s investment. Reflecting events of the past, “Tottenham Riot” or “Leicester Shock”.

We can be contemporary as well. If they’ve shut up about Sunday’s penalty, it’s “Burnley Wine” to keep the claret theme of their kit. Or “Burnley Whine” if they are still blathering on about it.

We, of course, given the clubs property development around the rubbish tip, could become the “Arsenal Wasters”.

Huddersfield Town, on the other hand, will be “Plucky Little Huddersfield”. That’s certainly how their performances against both Mancunian clubs this season position them. A win over United – our Watford, for comparison – and running City close last weekend.

There are no two ways about it; this match has all the hallmarks of a banana skin for us. No disrespect to the Terriers, but it’s a game on paper that should be over before kick-off. However, we’ve slipped up before, we’ll do so again; after last night’s results, it’s one we can’t afford to slip up in tonight.

While I don’t think we’re a top four side, Arsène and the players have that as their primary target. Capitalising on Tottenham’s misfortunes is a surefire way to prove doubters wrong.

Huddersfield’s away form is another reason to be optimistic. A win at Palace – nothing unusual – was the only of the seven away matches in which they scored. The other six – nada, zip, zero, nil, nothing. We might be on for a clean sheet.

I’m Adaptable…

That depends on which team Wenger fields. It won’t be a Europa League XI but I expect some changes, even if Arsène observed to the contrary. “The most important game is tomorrow,” he said at yesterday’s press conference. “We have a good chance to take three points at home and that is all that matters. We have a big squad to deal with it.”

The last sentence is crucial. Iwobi is out, and I’d expect Ramsey to receive some rest. Having told Jack Wilshere to focus on his fitness, the least Wenger can do is give him a chance to play. Tonight is that opportunity and I wonder if the expectation of a physical evening might persuade Wenger to start with Olivier Giroud?

We don’t need too many changes though but more than anyone, resting Laurent Koscielny seems sensible. Wenger and the medical team possess the stats but public utterances from club and country managers are that he isn’t up to two games per week. While the short-term view is important for the manager, “we have a big squad to deal with it”.

I’d expect the line-up tonight to be:

Cech; Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Bellerin, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Xhaka; Sanchez, Giroud, Wilshere

The rest of the press conference was about the appointment of Raul Sanllehi, an appointment which appears to have put Arsène’s nose out of joint. “Head of Football Relations” is a director of football by any other name, on the face of it. That’s a sop to Wenger; his previous railings against a director of football would mean humiliation in the eyes of the press.

Arsène was quick to make sure everyone knew he was still in charge. “lSanllehi works] with me. Ivan has nothing to do with buying players.”

Get you. Nah, that wasn’t the ‘get you’ bit…

…I Like My New Role

…this was. He’s the procurer of talent, not Gazidis. “I know them all because I’ve been in the game before them,” he Partridge-esquely declared. “So, of course, I know everybody in every club in Europe. Basically, I know them all.”

You can read into his words whatever meaning you like. The acolytes will shrug their shoulders and tell you there’s nothing to see, move along. With Wenger though, you know there is something to see when he responds to questions with a Derek & Clive attitude, just a lot less sweary.

Sadly for Arsène, there’s a divergence in views about who is involved in transfers. Pointedly, the club statement announcing Raul’s arrival noted, “He will join us in February to lead future player negotiations and work alongside manager Arsene Wenger, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and contract negotiator Huss Fahmy.”

January isn’t looking too promising for new arrivals then.

However, next summer is shaping to be a humdinger. Ivan Gazidis sang the club song with his comment,

“Raul’s appointment is another important step in developing the infrastructure we need at the club to take everything we do to the next level.

“Raul has extensive contacts across the football world and has been directly involved in some of the biggest transfers in Europe in recent years. We look forward to him bringing that expertise to Arsenal.”

Inevitably, the question is whether Arsène will be here to oversee it. “I stick to my contracts” will chorus, omitting the one documented time he tried to resign but was rebuffed.

Next summer is a troublesome transfer window. Closing before the season starts for domestic business, with a World Cup as well? High-pressure times for a club as lethargic as Arsenal in the transfer window.

This Is Not A Love Song

Will Wenger go next summer? There’s a danger of reading too much into the situation. Arsenal are putting a director of football in place, but for the next manager. There’s no way the director of operations at Barcelona left to become Transfer Bloke at Arsenal. It’s will be a wider-ranging role than that.

I don’t think this summer will see Arsène walk away but I do think this is his final contract with the club. If these appointments help him go out in a blaze of glory, which surely everyone bar the numpties who want Arsenal to lose to hasten his departure, wants, more power to everyone’s elbow.

You can’t help but think this is a seismic change. And therein is the danger. Expectations will build, embellishing the role, power and influence of Messrs Sanllehi and Mislintat. Hurling past glories around is no proof of future success in N5.

Salutary tales about hopes being raised at other clubs. Monchi isn’t doing badly at Roma but is a long way from the success he enjoyed at Sevilla. Closer to the home, Steve Walsh had the Midas touch at Leicester; he’s got anything but that at Everton.

Not that I expect either to be the case with Arsenal’s new heads but it’s more a case of not letting hopes spiral out of control. Keeping our feet on the ground and patience, which is in short supply at the moment, will be needed before either is judged a success or failure.

And the only genuine way to judge that is by success on the pitch. Starting tonight.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. And beforehand, pop over to Dad’s Jukebox where a new post, based on the letter ‘W’ is arriving early this afternoon.

’til Tomorrow.

133 thoughts on “Huddersfield Town: Banana Skin, Raul & Noses

  1. Was going to catch up with events by commenting on the poor efforts of both Bellerin and Xhaka in the first half. Especially Xhaka’s carelessness in giving the ball away at the back.

    Don’t think I’ll bother now.

  2. Haha I have a feeling somebody is going to throw a damper on the match especially if Ozil ends MOTM and say its against Huddlesfeld 😂

  3. What an honour for Huddersfield to be beaten by our boys in such a glorious fashion. You can see they feel it keenly.

  4. The first half was meh and we needed more but Ozil seemed to step it up and then you saw the likes of Ramsey’s confidence start and Sanchez looked much a different player.

    Really hope Arsene doesn’t change the starting XI for Manure.

    Fucking hell, Romeu just equalized for Southampton against Citeh. Boufal is starting to show the talent he showed in France.

  5. @Bill

    Guess Ozil isn’t capable of these kinds of performances anymore 😉. Just having some fun as you know Ozil is one of my favorites and he waa brilliant again.

  6. I agree with C. Unless Lacazette has an injury I would start the same 11 against ManU. They will have 8 days to rest after that game.

  7. Bill,

    For me, its more about they are playing well together so as my friend from thr Cajun country says, laissez les bon temps rouler or Let the Good times roll.

  8. Jonny,

    West Ham can’t have failed to be aware of what a terrible job he did at Sunderland yet they still somehow thought he was the right man for the job. I actually felt sorry for the Hammers fans when they appointed Moyes and it wouldn’t shock me if he didn’t last the season.

  9. C,

    Heard about it, but not seen it yet. Apparently Hart came dashing out to clear it and Rooney hit the clearance straight back into the empty net.

  10. C

    If Ozil plays like this with any consistency then he will stop dividing opinions. WE are not going to get a big payout for Sanchez or Ozil in January. If both can continue to produce before the upcoming transfer window then it makes sense for us to keep them until the summer.

  11. Great result, some superb movement in the final third allied to clinical finishing.
    That’s 12 EPL wins at home on the spin.
    Our next, the 13th, is against you know who.
    Sleep well.

  12. Bill,


    Ushering Ozil out of the door is suicide

    Yes YW I would also keep Alexis if I had the choice

    Either way they are our best players and no surprise they cost the most (at the time)

    I assume only change will be Danny boy for Lacazette…big game now

    We have to start with that energy that blows teams away but not easy the way Jose will set them up

    Tough assignment

  13. Great win. Didn’t see the game but followed the commentary. On a run but a sign of the medium distance past that we go into the game with Mourinhos on Saturday and I expect us to not turn up

    An aside on Jack. The last eighteen months have gone almost exactly to plan. His time with Bournemouth got him fit and built a bit of confidence in his body. For everyone. Both player and club should have learnt some valuable lessons about how to manage Jacks body. I think someone at AFC has. I read an article on how Bournemouth gave him little to no training and built his match minutes up steadily.

    Let’s not rush his body. Been there, done that and broke the t-shirt

    I think if anyone had said to me at season start that he’ll play an increasingly influential role in Cup teams. By December he’ll not just be knocking but banging on the door of the first team proper with a few sub cameos, I’d have ripped your arms off to take that. And here we are. I hope he gets a start or two in the prem in the coming weeks and I think he will

  14. No love for Ramsey? I thought he was very good. It’s seems we may have lost Lacazette for a few weeks. I was so looking forward to our front 3 giving United hell at home Very shitty news that. Hate to end on a negative but fuck me Xhaka is one sloppy footballer

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