As I was at the game yesterday and John had to go pick out his Christmas tree, he's left me alone with the match report. Don't expect your usual in-depth statistics and facts, or even any major accuracy, just my view from the stands.
Arsenal away, one of the games we could rightfully call a free swing. Expectations were low, Arsenal are firing, having come from behind against an in-form Spurs and in the same fixture last year fired 5 goals past Jonas Lossl - 2 in the time I went for a pee… so it wasn't with much hope we headed down to the Emirates.
I've been to a few games down the years at the Emirates and two things always strike me. The width and comfort of the seats and the total lack of atmosphere. 5 minutes before the game most of the home stands were little more than half full and the noise level could be described as sleep inducing. Cue the teams and the traveling Terriers raised the roof as is customary.
The first half didn't quite go as expected, as town not only held their own but began to assert themselves on Emery's team of superstars. Yes Arsenal had a few chances including a sitter I could've scored and had a goal disallowed which on another day would've stood due to the ball coming off a terrible back pass, but a nice early flag saved town’s blushes.
Pritchard missed a peach of a chance and the yellow cards flew around like they were going out of fashion. The Arsenal team literally throwing themselves to the ground like Tom Daly.
An early tactical change by the Arsenal boss deep in the first half re-engaged the Gunners for the better (maybe this example can provide a nudge for our own coach to switch it up earlier, should the game require it). Arsenal found another gear, with only a wonder save from a not massively busy Lossl keeping the scores level.
Phew, half time and 0-0 that felt like a mini victory. Town had a chance and didn't look half bad, on a day when their heads and spirits could've been low.
The second half started much as the first, Town cancelling out most of Arsenal's clever play and trying hard to engineer a chance with little success.
The ever impressive and battling Hogg's substitution in the 52nd minute only served to unsettle the battling heart of midfield. Bacuna isn't yet up to the class of Jonny Hogg, but didn't look overawed like he did at stoke. Tommy Smith for Flo added pace, but the replacement of a returning Danny Williams for Eric Durm failed to allow the visitors to open up what would've been a surprising lead.
A cameo appearance in the stands by Steve Mounie being the highlight of the second half for most fans. 83rd minute and looking at a well earned draw and Town did what Town do and let in what was, despite a lovely finish, a soft goal.
Some more battling and a half hearted penalty shout saw out the rest of the game and what was a predictable 3 points at home for the Gunners.
I used to say that I don't mind if we lose as long as we play well, and we're playing better than any Town team I've seen over the years. Which leads to my current frustration, we can do better we just need a few goals.
We have the play, the performance and the desire to not only stay up but to do well in this league. A striker is needed in January by hook or by crook. Lolo looked finished from the hour mark and Stevie is scoring as much in the stands as he is on the pitch, the strike force is thin and has zero goals this term, an injury, knock, or suspension together would leave us with er… Super Coll up front. Dig deep Deano!
Town still don't look like scoring. Lolo sits too deep a lot of the time. (Schindy was often ahead of him in the second half)
Subs came on too late to change the game and two full backs and a defensive midfielder wasn't gonna nick this for us. We need a bit more ambition.
The American guy sat one down from me who knew nothing about football. He even screamed at the tank that is Jonny Hogg to get up after what looks like a badly sprained or broken wrist. Bloody tourists!
Simulation from the Arsenal squad who with another ref might've got away with their sack o'spuds antics.
Performance, performance, performance, we can compete.
The ref, actually got it right, yes he could've sent off two or three of the Arsenal team, he let the game flow and got all the major decisions spot on.
We're not bottom.
The pies at piebury corner were ace, if pricey and a bit thin, it is London.
Newcastle, Southampton and a trip to Fulham in the next four games should see us take some points, within two more “free swings” against the Manchester teams.
We are Premier league and we play like we belong here.
Let's hope for a bit more cheer over the festive period and a start to the new year that sees us in our rightful position of lower mid table mediocrity.
‘Till next time, Merry Christmas terriers and UTT