Arsenal 1 Huddersfield 0: Lucas Torreira the hero again as overhead kick seals three points for Gunners

North London has a new hero. Lucas Torreira’s cult status has been growing by the week but after providing a scarcely deserved winner for Arsenal against Huddersfield there could be a convincing argument that the 5ft 5in Uruguayan is the new big guy around these parts.
Certainly as all the Emirates bellowed his name after his 83rd minute bicycle kick took Arsenal to a 1-0 win over a battling there could be no doubt of the adoration the Gunners faithful have towards the snapping, snarling midfielder with a touch of class they have been begging for over the last decade.
In many ways this was the perfect game for the Uruguayan to find the winner. That there were as many yellow cards (seven) as shots in the first half rather typified a match where Huddersfield were unafraid of getting in Arsenal’s faces and Unai Emery’s men played down to it.
Still this robust game got a winner of true grace as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang crafted space on the byline to clip the ball over a pack of defenders for Torreira to volley home.
Emery’s ongoing experiments with his starting lineup brought him to a 3-5-2 and the first time Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette had been played as a striking pair from the off since the former’s arrival.
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
If that felt inevitable in light of the duo’s sparkling form the decision to name the somewhat more defensively-inclined Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi in midfield appeared puzzling, begging the question who would link midfield and attack.
The answer was no-one, bar the odd rally from Hector Bellerin down the right flank. With Huddersfield energetically pressing the back line Bernd Leno was forced into too many aimless long balls whilst Lacazette and Aubameyang dropped ever deeper to get into the game.
Indeed by the 20th minute Arsenal’s most advanced players were Torreira and Bellerin, though that would eventually change when Xhaka fizzed in a low cross that had more than a whiff of miscued shot about it. Either way the strike fell perfectly to Aubameyang at the near post but he could not wrap his foot around it and direct the ball goalwards.
If that miss had been careless there were no excuses for another moments later when Guendouzi and the effervescent Bellerin combined down the right to tee up Lacazette on the penalty spot. Under what was, by Huddersfield’s standards at least, minimal pressure the No.9 contrived to fall to the floor and scoop his foot under a ball that ballooned over the bar.
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Huddersfield had not shied away from robust defending in the first half, as Torreira could attest when Danny Williams flew through the back of him. He was lucky to avoid a more serious sanction for that but then so was Sokratis Papastathopoulos for a two-footed lunge on Jonathan Hogg that was probably outlawed in the 1930s. In rugby.
The Emirates took poorly to what they viewed as Tierney’s lenience towards Huddersfield, particularly when his assistant Simon Beck denied Lacazette a goal after he pounced on a poor touch by Christopher Schindler, rounded Jonas Lossl and scored.
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Whether the linesman was in the wrong is largely dependent on whether he believes a new phase of play had begun after the centre-back claimed Aubameyang’s flick-on, at which stage his strike partner was offside.
There could, however, be no debate about the penalty not given when Schindler clipped Shkodran Mustafi’s ankle in the area, Tierney adding insult to injury by booking the German for a dive.
As is his wont Emery shuffled the pack at the interval, replacing Lacazette and Stephan Lichtsteiner with Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and moving to a 3-4-2-1.
However the substitutes found making an impact on the contest tough going as Huddersfield grew ever more brazen in their attempts to run down the clock, with the average throw-in time seeming to be well in excess of 30 seconds.
As the heavens opened chances at last came to Arsenal in a final 15 minutes where Emery preached patience. None was in evidence when Sead Kolasinac allowed a Mkhitaryan cross to run across his body.
One player was listening, however, and Torreira struck with seven minutes left, and the same amount of added time, to carry the day for Arsenal.