Lucas Torreira 8/10 as Arsenal win late vs. Huddersfield but Emery gets a 4/10
Lucas Torreira's late acrobatic winner gave Arsenal a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Huddersfield to take their unbeaten streak to 21 games.
It was a closely contested game, with a total of nine yellow cards but few clear-cut scoring chances as Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette missed a decent effort each in the first half, while Torreira nearly scored with a curling long-range strike before the break.
Torreira broke the deadlock late on when he met a cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, leaping high and firing home a scissor kick from close range the Gunners finally broke down the visitors' stubborn resistance.
A win is a win, even though this one wasn't pretty. This game won't go down in history for its entertainment value but it's another example of the resilience Arsenal are developing under Unai Emery. Once again the Gunners found a way of grinding out a win in a game that they easily could have drawn last season. And the clean sheet was only their third of the Premier League season.
This kind of performance won't net three points against most other Premier League teams and Arsenal were fortunate that Huddersfield showed so little interest in attacking. The three-man midfield of Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi couldn't provide much service for the strikers in the first half, leaving Arsenal looking toothless in attack aside from a few rare forays down the flanks.
Things improved when Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi came on after the break, but those two also look short of confidence after a long barren run. And Shkodran Mustafi's hamstring injury adds to Arsenal's defensive concerns.
Manager rating out of 10
4 - A home game against Huddersfield seemed like a perfect opportunity to deploy Plan A and use the attack-minded 4-5-1 formation that has been Arsenal's hallmark for years. But Emery opted for 3-5-2 with three central midfielders, leaving the side without a natural playmaker to create chances for the two strikers.
He realised his mistake and made another double substitution at half-time, changing formations in the process, but that seemed like an admission that he got it wrong in the first place. Emery has shown a great ability to make the right changes during games but he needs to start doing a better job getting it right from the beginning. All this tinkering could start to unsettle the team soon.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Only had one real save to make but had plenty of touches with his feet in the opening 30 minutes as Arsenal passed the ball around the back too much.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- Solid at the heart of a back three, read the game well and stood up well in the challenges. Limped off with a hamstring injury that adds to Arsenal's defensive concerns.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 6 -- Hardly set a foot wrong but was taken off at half-time as Emery switched to a back four. DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 -- Didn't look quite at home on the left side of a back three and was sloppy with the ball at times. A bit lucky to get away with just a yellow for a reckless studs-up challenge before the break but played well in the second half.
MF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- Very active down the right flank and helped create Arsenal's best two chances in the first half.
MF Lucas Torreira, 8 -- Was roughed up by Huddersfield's players throughout the game but kept his composure and popped up with an acrobatic finish that showed there's more to the Uruguayan than just his ball-winning ability. Also drew a stellar first-half save with a fierce long-range strike.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 6 -- Didn't do much wrong but also didn't show much playmaking ability in the first half when Arsenal badly needed a creative spark in midfield. But sent a great ball over the top for Aubameyang that led to the goal.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 5 -- Had a quiet first half but came to life after the break when Iwobi provided an outlet for him to combine with down the left flank.
MF Granit Xhaka, 4 -- The midfielder was back after a one-game suspension but so was his habit of making silly mistakes. Gifted Huddersfield their two best chances of the game by giving the ball away in dangerous areas, and didn't have much of an impact going forward.
MF Alexandre Lacazette, 5 -- Should have scored in the first half but slipped just as he was about to shoot after being teed up with a great chance. Sacrificed at half-time as Emery changed formations.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Didn't bring his scoring boots on this occasion, steering his best chance wide in the first half. But did well to set up Torreira for the winning goal and worked tirelessly up front.
MF Alex Iwobi, 5 -- Brought more of an attacking impetus to Arsenal's midfield with his introduction, but the constant complaints about his lack of end product are starting to sound like a broken record.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 6 -- Like Iwobi, he gave the attack a big spark and helped stretch Huddersfield's five-man defence.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Made his long-awaited return from a troublesome hamstring injury and looked like he'd never been away, despite having to fill in at centre-back.