Huddersfield Town Review: Stand Up and Be Countered

Huddersfield Town 1 – 2 Arsenal

It’s something which vexes me: when did it become fashionable to drop ‘Town’ when speaking of Huddersfield? This is the important issue coming out of the game. It’s the only one which has an immediate solution: stop being lazy.

In the real world, you remain vexed by the performance yesterday. I was as the game went on; it was 10, 20, 30, etc., minutes of my life I would never get back. As far as I can recall, I always feel that way after a dull football match but I get over it very quickly. When there is no hope of improvement or we’re stuck in the cycle of despair which swamped the club in the past few seasons, that’s a different matter.

Others don’t feel so phlegmatic at the moment. Judgement, as ever in this world, is quickly passed on Emery. He’s not good enough because, using the majority of last season’s squad, he hasn’t found all the answers.

The case for the defence of the manager rests with the defence itself. The word “sloppy” accompanied Mustafi throughout the commentary; “Loses possession” summed up Ainsley Maitland-Niles defensive work but he, at least, had the saving grace of his attacking play. He, Iwobi and Mkhitaryan provided lively support for Alexandre Lacazette when we countered.

Therein is the issue. We went to Huddersfield Town and played on the counter-attack. Bottom of the table, beaten by everyone Huddersfield Town. And we are frankly awful away from home Arsenal. There’s your answer: we hadn’t won on our travels since beating Bournemouth in November. To visit the John Smith’s Stadium and play flamboyant attacking football was tantamount to committing hari-kari with our defence.

In this instance, surely it was more about the result than the performance?

Thunderous Thwacks

As it was, we played largely defensively and tried hari-kari anyway. It’s no wonder we don’t have a clean sheet away from home this season when you look at the goal we conceded. God only knows what Kolasinac was thinking in flicking the ball into the goal. Surely, a thunderous thwack into the roof of the net to emphasise the futility of his intervention was called for?

There was still time for the goal to cease being an academic exercise. With virtually the last kick of the ball, Bacuna shot goalwards from twenty yards. Fortunately, it was straight down the throat of Leno, to use the footballing vernacular.

So, 2 – 1 it finished and we’re back to winning ways on the road. Which was the object of the exercise. Ending a dismal run of results away from the Emirates had to happen. From here, it is all about kicking on in the fight for fourth. Yes, we’re still in that race. Outsiders but still in it.

Of course, it is hard to overlook the defensive frailties. Leno produced several good saves at key moments while Monreal cleared off the line in the last ten minutes. The bar saved us as well, and the three points.

Emery went with a back three and it didn’t really work. Koscielny was outstanding but there was too much space on the flanks for the home side. That, the result of a narrow line-up on our part as much as anything, caused us problems. Until we improve the defence by signing better players, this is the Arsenal we have.

There is a conundrum within that solution. Finding better players is easy, we’ve set a low bar with Mustafi. Finding players to make us a top-four side again is far from easy.

Dear Mr…

And to focus on the negatives no matter how big they might be is to ignore the positives and I thought there were quite a few. Guendouzi’s work-rate remains phenomenal to the point where you forget he is 19 and that this is the norm.

Iwobi after his disastrous defensive contribution last week, found space, a goal and some redemption with a spritely performance on the flanks. It probably helped that his defensive contribution this week didn’t involve fannying around with the ball.

Meanwhile, the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang necessitated using Alexandre Lacazette in the central striker role. It served to underline how good the Frenchman is; one goal and was denied a second by Elneny or did he deprive Elneny of a goal. Between them, it was a bit of a cock-up.

Inevitably, Mesut Ozil was ill. He’s always ill. I bet he was the kid at school who always had a note from his mum excusing him from games. Ian Darke wondered what future Ozil had at the club given he has missed half the Premier League fixtures this season. The answer is none, Ian. None.

If, after a summer of investing in the players, we’re still producing this kind of performance then there are genuine questions for the coach to answer but this season, with minimal investment in the squad? We’ll agree to disagree if you think sacking him is the answer.

’til Tomorrow.

37 thoughts on “Huddersfield Town Review: Stand Up and Be Countered

  1. We are better off than last season with essentially the same team…..has our first choice eleven actually played this year? Losing Holding and other key players hasn’t helped….critisism of Emery is very harsh…

  2. It was a drab performance, but I guess its 3 points in the bag at least.

    I’ll make the point again: the defence, using the existing personnel, should be doing way better than they are.

    We just let in a keystone cops special goal by the same team that hadn’t scored in 8 hours of previous play. EIGHT HOURS.

    The players might not be particularly good (although they seem to have had more successful careers elsewhere – remember Squilacci and his interview?), but the point remains, despite Bill’s assertion that coaches are just charlatans who are in reality only the paid companions of the players and do nothing but put cones out, collect balls, and intermittently blow on whistles (makes one wonder what GG did all those years, stories of ropes etc., must all have been fantasy), that most of them are markedly better players than the defenders we see in other teams, who, wonder of wonders, seem to have been coached (that word again), and drilled into far more effective units.

    The defence very definitely should be doing a lot better than they are up to this point, and that’s a coaching issue, attributable to the head coach, you know, the dude with the title with the word coach in it.

    In terms of Ozil, he’s not the person not picking himself, so I fail to see why this is now his issue.

    In reality he can just pull the same stint that dude at Chelsea did.

    The club signed a contract with him (presumably the Arsenal signatories weren’t drunk or incapacitated in some legally arguable manner at the time and were authorised to sign on the club’s behalf), so the club will have to honour the contract if he holds them to it.

    There is absolutely no imperative for Ozil to do anything other than pitch up for training when required (if he’s not ill), and collect his cheques on pay day.

    All the rest is just waffle and quite frankly, quite dumb.

    If the club doesn’t want to, or won’t use him, and is trying to get under his skin there might well be unintended consequences in that he might just decide to say “fuck you, you made your bed, you can lie in it”.

    He’s close to retirement, he has a contract at very good money for the next 4 or so years, why would or should he give that up?

  3. > He’s close to retirement, he has a contract at very good money for the next 4 or so years,
    > why would or should he give that up?

    Because he’s concerned about the brand. Everything on his social media is about keeping a wholesome image for his brand. If he isn’t playing or is mired in dispute with the club, it’s bad for sponsorship money. He isn’t in the public eye off the pitch so there’s little incentive for sponsors if he isn’t playing.

    And in any case, “There is absolutely no imperative for Ozil to do anything other than pitch up for training” completely misses the point about being a professional sportsman and what misses them.

  4. MikeSA,

    The chuckle brothers were hopeless last year, and I don’t think either would be in UEs best 11.
    The defence has been makeshift, and shifting constantly in both personnel and formation, so there’s little wonder the team work and understanding required for clean sheets is lacking.
    Some of that is the coaches doing, but at least he ,inso doing is recognising the problem and attempting to address it.

    Ozil, not even on the bench? It is Comical.As a fan, very black. Hard to Understand who the Villain is . You seem to be very on side with Ozil. Maybe you have his ear.
    I wonder if he’ll get to have a run with the U23s. He’ll be seizing up otherwise.

    Haven’t seen any of the game. Listened to 1st half on arsesite, sounded like our attack was functioning okay. Thankfully the Rugby spared me the 2nd half. Though that was dismal too, it was on in the Pub.

    3 points is all that mattered. I really don’t get who these Emery slaters are? Probably all multi title winning coaches themselves. Or maybe just people who live in a fairytale. Personally, I think we’re lucky to have him. Ffs, it was artetetatatata otherwise. Or maybe invite Mr Wenger back…..

  5. Sack him.. It is not for the wins or losses…… But for the rubbish football that we play every week… No thank you Emery.. Parking ain’t for the Arsenal..

  6. YW,

    What if he isn’t?

    Or is satisfied he can spin it his way?

    You attribute a number of assumptions to the debate that might or might not be accurate, as do I.

    At the end of the day there is a signed contract in place, and it’s worth a lot of money to him.

    If I were Ozil I’d just calculate the value of the remaining contact against what I could earn elsewhere and any value I could extract out of the “brand”.

    What if his calculations come out as being better to just stay put?

    What if he’s more interested in investing his earnings and relying on that once his career is over (consider the fact that he’s now probably a pariah in Germany so unlikely to get any work leveraging his brand once his career is over).

    What if the club and the manager are pissing him off to the degree that he’s decided he won’t give in to them and will just take their money?

    It baffles me why fans think that their thought processes match those of the player or management, it’s seldom likely to be the case.

    The motivations of the players vary widely on their own, never mind the motivations and agenda’s of the management, the coaches, the supplementary staff, the board, the fans, the owner, etc. etc.

  7. ferkov,

    I’ve never met Ozil, nor do I know anything more about him than the average fan out there.

    The only thing I do know are some of the facts:

    1. He has a lengthy contract with the club at an attractive remuneration rate.
    2. He retired from Germany under unusual circumstances.
    3. Emery is not selecting him when he’s available.

    The rest is conjecture.

    In terms of Emery as the head coach, I think questions must be raised about his coaching and decisions.

    From the outcomes on the pitch, that includes results, the interaction on the pitch, team selection, substitutions, etc., I don’t think we are getting the best out of our squad.

    I question the coaching.

    Others apparently don’t.

    What I will say is that if we get to the end of this year and the defence, with whatever personnel we do have, is still such an unmitigated abortion, then I would question whether we should continue with him next season.

    I was quite prepared to tread water in terms of remaining in 6th, but I did want to see obvious improvements, even with exactly the same squad.

    That hasn’t happened imo.

  8. Crispen:
    Sack him.. It is not for the wins or losses…… But for the rubbish football that we play every week… No thank you Emery.. Parking ain’t for the Arsenal..

    You seriously want to sack Emery after only 6 months at the helm with very little money to spend and having inherited a lot of Wenger ‘ballast’ players? Newsflash: Arsenal had been very successful before Wenger arrived by playing some extremely drab and prosaic defensive (winning) football under Bertie Mee, Don Howe and George Graham. The tradition of ‘Parking ain’t for the Arsenal’ is clearly freshly minted by yourself….

  9. Thanks for the review Yogi

    The skiing was really good yesterday and I haven’t seen the game yet so I can’t really comment. It sounds like we were very underwhelming.

    To me the criticism of Emery is a bit overdone. His inability to do a better job of organizing the defense is disappointing and in truth very concerning. However, he inherited an unbalanced poorly constructed undertalented squad and with 12 games left in the league season he has us close to the top 4. Imagine where we would be with Arsene at the helm. There are probably only 3-4 players in this entire squad who would be playing regular minutes on the teams above us in the league. Not one of our GK or current back 4 would be more then back end of match day 18. The idea that there is a Virgil Van Dijk hiding somewhere somewhere inside of Mustafi or there is still a great player hiding somewhere inside of Mesut Ozil and they just need a better manager is truly grasping at straws. I doubt that Klopp, Pep, Pochintinno or even Fergie would have this squad much higher in the table then it is right now.

  10. MikeSA

    Regarding Ozil, we know with certainty that objectively his productivity for both club and country has been consistently going down hill for several seasons in a row. Subjectively he does not look anything like the player he used to be and he now longer creating the sort of magical moments he used to do on a reasonably regular basis for club or country. Father Time eventually catches up with all players based on everything we have seen its seems very straightforward to suggest that Mesut has hit the downward slope of his career arc. No?

  11. MikeSA,

    Doubtless you make valid points. All arguable of course but valid nonetheless.

    However, when you consider the actual contribution of Ozil when he has played over the last season or so than there are very good grounds to not play him.

    Add the number of games when he has not been available for selection, being ill, injured or otherwise indisposed, it seems reasonable to question his commitment to the cause. We could also conjecture whether he has the professional pride that makes a talented footballer worthy of his salary. If that is his attitude than he is not a professional or even a man.

    Frankly, I don’t give a monkeys if he is ‘entitled’ to sit on his arse and collect his salary. I do care that I do not see any willingness to actually fight for his place and the club that pays that salary. Conjecture of course but that is football.

  12. Regarding brand Ozil which would be more damaging. Not playing and blaming the manager for not using him or actually playing regularly and being consistently ineffective so that everyone knows his time as a great player is past? Mesut is smart enough to know where he is right now and if he would have gone to PSG and played the way he did against ManU and Cardiff how would that have helped brand Ozil?

    In terms of Emery, I am sure he has watched extensive film from the last couple of seasons and it has to be even more clear to him that Ozil’s productivity and performances has been consistently less effective over time. Whether that is an fading skills or an attitude problem or both it does not matter. Credit to Emery for being willing to take the media and fan questioning because you don’t use a player who for whatever reason is no longer effective.

  13. I agree with Cbob. We don’t know for sure what is happening behind the scenes but the one thing we know with 100% certainty is that Ozil’s effectiveness has been fading for the 3 years in a row and Emery gave him about 1/3 of the season to reinvigorate himself and turn things around but Mesut’s effectiveness has continued to fade.

  14. I don’t like three at the back and I think yesterday’s performance stemmed from excess caution (as well as poor defending). It’s easy to criticize Emery but his caution away from home is understandable and based on experience. This team has looked best playing the 4-3-3/diamond- hybrid but the personnel were not available yesterday (to the extent they exist in the present squad). This perhaps explains why Emery is so fixated on wingers when replacing Mustafi and Xhaka might seem more pressing. The ref also contributed yesterday by not being harsh enough on repeated late tackles to break up the counters, as dis Iwobi by not finishing enough of the opportunities which, in fairness, he played a large part in creating. Second half was just poor but I got a kick out of Lacazette batting away. We should clone that guy. He seems like he is from an earlier generation of players.

  15. Özil? It doesn’t really matter why anymore, does it? Best for all concerned if he leaves. Just a question of when, where and how much and the answers are as soon as possible, anywhere mutually agreeable, and let’s cut our losses. It’s just a shame it seems to have reached a point where a use can’t be found for him in the meantime.

  16. Trying to take some positives from a generally uninspiring performance and Koscielny was definitely one. He looked cool and poised, especially compared to some around him. It’s not so long ago that he was considered one of the better CHs in the EPL. Yes, he has lost some pace and he has had some injuries but, yesterday, he seemed to have altered his style to fit both his current reality and the surrounding cast. He’s also taken some hard knocks but hasn’t let them best him.

  17. With all the talk of equine ‘flu going around, it was only to be expected that Ozil would be unable to make it to the starting gate. If he was a horse, they would have shot him by now.

  18. consolsbob,

    Sure Bob, but the fact remains that he has a contract, and quite frankly, he has the upper hand as far as that goes.

    The point I’m making is that it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference what you or I, or Bill, or anyone else thinks or claims is a fact (most of which aren’t), the only fact that actually counts is that he does have a contract that has some time to run, is at what is said to be an attractive remuneration rate, and he holds all the cards.

    Whether his accountant, or business manager/advisor, or just himself for the matter, calculate (or not), his best plan of action going forward is, who knows.

    Some of you think he’s on the decline and doesn’t deserve to play.

    I look at it and see abysmal performances on the pitch lacking exactly what Ozil provides.

    Emery is not going to listen to me any more than Ozil is going to listen to you.

    I’m not sure that if this was any other player there would be anywhere near as much noise around them as there seems to be with Ozil.

  19. MikeSA,

    Is it the Player( not been outstanding for quite some time), the Man ( political disaster in the summer/ PR/ online persona), or the fact that his contract is frankly grotesque….that makes the noise decibels rise. None of these win him a place in the side.
    I’d love to see him playing well again. Besides a couple of cameos this year , that doesn’t seem to be in his locker.
    Maybe we get our confidence up with a few ugly wins, it buys him some flat track minutes to build his up. He’s not the man for this moment imo.

  20. C,

    Think Yogi should rewrite all this weeks posts?
    Didn’t we look good compared to Chelsea ! 😬
    Mustafi was still crap tho 😂 Better than The Leech tho!

  21. MikeSA

    “I look at it and see abysmal performances on the pitch lacking exactly what Ozil provides.”

    The problem is he used to provide that creative spark but he does not do that anymore. None of us can be 100% sure why he no longer does it but that is not really relevant other then just as an interesting topic to debate. The reality is if he was actually still providing that spark then would probably be playing.

  22. MikeSA

    I do agree with you about the contract and just like almost any player Ozil will do what is best for him. For example there was no motivation for him to go to PSG on loan and I completely understand why he would not. Its probably the same with Ramsey and I would be surprised if we see him on the pitch. If I were Juve I would certainly make it clear that they don’t want him ready for preseason next year and not tearing an ACL for Arsenal.

  23. Thank you for the balanced review which is sometimes hard to find in the Arsenal blogosphere. For the most part the replies to this blog adopt your approach and are a refreshing read. I apologize in advance for restating the obvious; but one of the reasons for the team not improving as much in 2019 as most of us would like is the failure to improve Arsenal’s defence. The shortcomings in Arsenal’s defence (37 goals after 26 games in 2018/2019 vs. 35 after 26 games in 2017/2018) has been long debated and is an ongoing source of disappointment. I think most fans are frustated that there does not appear to be progress in this area (perhaps you can write an article specifically about defensive players and tactics changes from last year to this year (e.g. who really teaches tactics on the traing pitch to help explain why no apparent improvement). Defence perhaps too simply said is a product of team systems and tactics (including the ability to plan for the next opponent’s attack), personnel capabilities (physical ability, and mental ability (motivation, skill and knowledge [50% of game speed is mental]), and the player’s ability to execute the tactics consistently.

    It is difficult to attribute how much of our lack of defensive progress is due to changes to team personnel in 2018/2019 either due to player changes, injury or selection (coaching), and how much is due to tactics (coaching)and execution (coaching and player abilities). Defensive player reinforcements are not coming, so we have to hope that defensive coaching improvements occur in the next 12 games.

  24. I think we would all do a better job of running the side – after all, we see the players every day, see how they perform in training and have a clear idea of what they can do for the side on match day….hang on, no we don’t….

    the guy is working with a set of players that we don’t think are all up to snuff…and has to make the best of what he has available

    and we lambasted him and the team after we got thumped 3-1 by Citeh – compare that with Chelski

  25. Just playing devil’s advocate, Dalm, Crystal Palace won 3 – 2 the week before we went to Manchester so maybe we ought to appoint Roy Hodgson instead 😉

  26. ferkov,

    Chelsea looked like shit and I am a fan of Mustafi(think next to somebody like Holding who sits and allows Mustafi to be his aggressive self, he looks much better), but I’m sure Sarri would take Mustafi over the shit he currently has.

    For all the talk of Sanchez being a Barca cast off just think, some people were wanting Cahill who can’t even make thr bench for that shit defensive side!😂

    I think during the Citeh demolition today, I heard somethuming like: since their 5 match unbeaten run to start the season, Chelsea have won 10 of 21 matches and have had their 2 worst losses in club history. Emery might be coming along slowly but FFS they are talking Sarri’s job already.

  27. C,

    Your penchant for Mustafi hasn’t gone unnoticed. Hence the gentle dig.
    He did look better alongside Holding ,tbf, but rarely solid. Hence our lean sheet record.
    As far as Chelsea are concerned, I don’t really care what troubles their dressing room, but they do show a soft underbelly when the chips are down.
    Sari doesn’t appear to be happy with his squad, and the board there have a reputation for shooting first, then asking questions…. or maybe not asking at all.

Comments are closed.