Arsenal 2 v Huddersfield Town 1

Arsenal’s campaign for silverware continued of all fronts with a nervy 2-1 FA Cup 4th round win over Huddersfield, but that just tells part of the story. The Gunners were reduced to ten men when Sebsatien Squillaci was shown a straight red card for impeding Jack Hunt who after a strong run would only have had Manuel Almunia to beat. After a positive start, things deteriorated significantly for Arsenal who having taken the lead through Nicklas Bendtner, lost Samir Nasri with a hamstring injury just past the half hour mark.Alan Lee levelled for the Terriers but substitute Cesc Fabregas’s introduction changed the complex of the game with a penalty that proved to be the winner. Late on Sunday, Arsenal were drawn at Leyton Orient.

Sensed

No surprises to see the early possession statistics showed Arsenal had over 80 per cent of the play, and but for poor finishing from Andrey Arshavin in particular, this tie could have comfortably been put to bed in the opening 45 minutes. The Russian is clearly not in a good place with his football of late, yet Arsene Wenger continues to back him with selection. As early as the third minute after Arshavin blasted wildly over the bar after a neat move, you just sensed that the deterioration in his form was going to continue. Behind Arshavin, Kieran Gibbs was comfortable going forward, but as Huddersfield began to sense, his defensive skills were proving to be worryingly rusty. Bendtner saw a shot go wide from Arshavin’s cross, with the latter unfortunate not to open the scoring from Nasri’s pass which was gathered by Bennet.

Exploited

Marouane Chamakh made a start and his game too was somewhat subdued. However it was the Morocco forward who found Bendtner for the opener, a low strike that deflected in off Peter Clarke. Given the Gunners’ superiority, that you felt would open the floodgates, but Huddersfield began to ask a few questions of a concerned Arsenal defence. Once again with Gibbs struggling to get back, the visitors exploited that void but Alan Lee could not connect as Squillaci looked exposed and struggling. Denilson then gave the ball away in his own half but Alan Pilkington hit wide. With Arsenal reduced to ten men with Squillaci’s sending off three minutes before the break, the Terriers sensed their chance.

Rare

Arsene Wenger replaced Chamakh with Alex Song for the beginning of the second half, but just as in the first, Arshavin squandered from Thomas Rosicky’s pass. The Gunners 23 however was on hand with a rare defensive burst to deny Joey Gudjohnsen as he was about to strike from five yards out. Manuel Almunia making his first start since September denied Jamie McCombe with a brilliant dive to his right, but all the while Huddersfield grew in confidence as Arsenal for some uncharacteristic reason tried to slow the game down.

Settled

The Terriers levelled through Pilington’s strong header from Lee’s corner on 66 minutes, but three minutes later, Wenger had seen enough. Fabregas was brought on in place of Abou Diaby and his influence had a telling effect on the game. The Arsenal captain settled quickly with his range of passes too much for a tiring Huddersfield side. He found Bendtner and a swift exchange with Arshavin but the Dane took a touch too many as McCombe blocked on the six yard line. Fabregas’s 50 yard pass then found Bendtner again who was felled in the area and a penalty awarded. Up stepped the Arsenal number four to powerfully strike home for his ninth goal of the season five minutes before the end to fire ten man Arsenal into the fifth round of the FA Cup