Strikes from Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette helped us secure our first Premier League away win of 2019 on Saturday, as we ran out 2-1 winners over Huddersfield Town - but what did we learn?
Missing out on a clean sheet hurt - even though we took the points. But in truth we would have conceded earlier had it not been for Laurent Koscielny. Led by our captain, we defended pretty well in the first half. Plenty of ammunition was supplied from the Huddersfield flanks but our back three stayed tight in the box and got their heads to the ball time and again. Koscielny was imperious throughout. He threw himself at the ball, getting winded on one occasion, and timed several last-ditch interventions to perfection to preserve our two-goal lead until the final seconds. He’ll be gutted by the late concession but Koscielny did as much as anyone to bring the points back to London.
MICKI MAKES HIS MARK
With Ozil, Aubameyang and Ramsey missing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan needed to fill a creative gap on Saturday - and he delivered. Playing his first game since the Carabao Cup defeat to Tottenham on December 19, Micki was at heart of our best work in the first half. His energy was impressive - especially after a lengthy layoff - and he drove us forward on the counter-attack. The second, ultimately decisive goal, owed plenty to his tenacity. Having seemingly lost the ball on the edge of the Huddersfield box, Micki stole it back immediately, showing strength and then vision to pick out the run of Maitland-Niles. He and Lacazette did the rest, but Micki’s contribution was major. He might have set up a goal for Iwobi in the second half, but the Nigeria forward was denied by the goalkeeper. And another assist eluded Micki when an untimely slip stopped him from picking out Lacazette.
RECOVERY ON THE ROAD
OK, we all wanted the win to be a resounding one, but these three points did put us back on track on the road. We’ve had slim pickings on our travels for too long, collecting just two points from our previous six away matches and losing the last three. The goals had dried up too - we hadn’t scored more than once in our last four trips - so it was a relief to put that right. Unai Emery spoke before the game about “changing our mentality to get more points away” and the need to “recover our confidence [in away games]”. That stoppage-time goal aside, this was a step in the right direction.
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