Ralph has his work cut out saving Saints
HIPPY crack? More like hip, hip hooray as Lucas Torreira gave Arsenal the kind of high you can’t complain about – as he struck seven minutes from time to stretch their unbeaten run to 21 games.
But it was hard work as battling Huddersfield belied their own plight to make them fight every inch of the way. The Gunners only won because of Torreira’s fighting qualities and the fact the visitors didn’t have a striker to finish off their many fine moves.
After a week in which pictures showed some players allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons on a pre-season outing, Arsenal needed to impress on the pitch. Thanks to Torreira they did.
He settled a nerve-wracking game when he scissor-kicked home in spectacular style after PierreEmerick Aubameyang fought hard to turn Matteo Guendouzi’s pass into his path.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery said: “I am delighted for Torreira. Last week he scored and today also. He has quality and his interpretation on the pitch tactically and in attacking and defensive moments he is very fast in his mind.
‘‘He showed that today and in the way he got into the box to score.’’
Huddersfied certainly made a fist of it. Seven players were booked in a raw, no-holds-barred first half, with Arsenal being the main culprits.
Arsenal needed a five-star show after the headlines but were often left frustrated by Huddersfield’s determination to defend.
Emery added: “It was a tough match, like many matches, and today it is important because we didn’t have rhythm but still won. I’m very happy with the result. It was hard for us to control the match but patience is the key word today. I wanted us to win more quickly but we needed to be patient.
“Today is a very important result. We wanted a bigger win but they stopped about nine minutes this rhythm, a lot of cards, fouls and time lost and we needed patience and we needed to win by waiting for our moment – and the moment came for us in the end.’’ Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette wasted golden chances before the latter finally put the ball into the net on 45 minutes – only for the effort to be ruled offside.
It was the last of his action as he was subbed. Emery is not afraid of tough decisions – as proven with his handling of Mesut Ozil.
On song, there’s no midfield player finer, but he also had too many away days and former manager Arsene Wenger indulged him.
Emery is made of sterner stuff and it’s no surprise he does not fit into his high-octane system, where he likes his teams to press high, looking to win the ball quickly.
It’s all about intensity and these are not Ozil’s strengths.
Arsenal have now won 17 of their last 18 league matches which kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday.
Although, it would be somewhat typical if they slipped up in this sort of game having come through stiffer tests impressively.
It was 5-0 in this fixture last season but this Huddersfield side is made of sterner stuff.
The Terriers, after collecting seven points from nine in a recent good run, have now crashed back to earth – but you would never call them natural relegation fodder on this showing.
Their manager David Wagner said: “I was pleased we limited Arsenal to so few chances. We deserved a point. Obviously I am disappointed, but we chased a top-class side and we can keep our heads high.’’ NEW Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl must realise the full extent of the job he has taken on after this defeat at the hands of Neil Warnock’s warriors.
By the time they fell behind to Callum Paterson’s ludicrous goal – after a horrible error from Jannik Vestergaard – Saints were far too soft against a Cardiff side prepared to get down and dirty.
Austrian Hasenhuttl must have expected more of the grimy and gritty work required when you are mired in the relegation zone, but got the same kind of flat, passionless display that earned Mark Hughes the sack.
Hasenhuttl looked back on his first game in charge and admitted: “I always said we would either win or we learned – and here we absolutely learned.
“It’s not easy to play here, in a very passionate and emotional atmosphere but I was not disappointed with what my team showed me. The rest will come in the next weeks.’’
It might have been different if Stuart Armstrong had won a penalty at 0-0 when he was tripped by Victor Camarasa, but the referee gave the Cardiff man the benefit of the doubt.
Cardiff are now four points clear of the relegation zone, and Warnock said: “I was very proud of the whole club today. They were horrendous conditions, but the noise level lifted us and spurred us on.”
Cardiff 1 Southampton 0
JOY BOY: Cardiff scorer Paterson