If you offered an Arsenal supporter a 20-match unbeaten run following the opening two games of the season – consecutive losses against first Manchester City and second Chelsea – it would have seemed scarcely possible, and they would have quickly accepted.
Yet, that is the situation Unai Emery and his Arsenal side find themselves in – 20 matches unbeaten, 15 of those games being wins. It’s the longest run of it’s kind since a 28-game unbeaten streak in 2007.
On Saturday - at a rare 3PM kick-off this campaign - the Gunners will welcome David Wagner’s Huddersfield Town to the Emirates. The Terriers are making the trip on the back of two losses in-a-row after winning the previous 3 and really getting their season started. They sit in 17th on 10 points, and will be desperate to extend gap between them and the drop positions.
With the Europa League and just the ways fixtures have fell, it is a real rarity for the Gunners to play a fixture on a Saturday at 3PM, but it is a time they’ve had incredible success at – of the past 17 Saturday 3PM Premier League kick-offs, Arsenal have won 16.
This is a game to expect goals for two big reasons – Arsenal have a habit of scoring – 14 successive league matches in-a-row currently, but… they also have a penchant for conceding, having done so in the last 8 games straight. Huddersfield will be hopeful of keeping this trend going, having found the scoresheet in all but one of their last 8 matches.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their 10 previous games against Huddersfield – winning 8 and drawing 2. Last season, this fixture ended in a 5-0 win to the home team, and the reverse fixture was a notable one as it was Arsene Wenger’s 1235th and final game as manager of Arsenal.
In team news, Mesut Ozil is set to miss another match with the back issue that has kept him out of the team since before the Bournemouth match. Granit Xhaka will be eligible to make a return to playing action after missing the United fixture with a suspension due to picking up 5 yellow cards over the course of the campaign thus far.
Rob Holding is out for the foreseeable future due to the anterior crucial event ligament injury he picked up during a Wednesday night’s match. It’s a real shame for both the player - who stood out as a fine defensive performer this campaign - and the team as a whole.
In a thankful coincidence of timing, this may Laurent Koscielny’s first involvement in the squad since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in May. If that transpires to be the case, it will likely only be a cameo appearance in an effort to build up his league match fitness, but nonetheless, it’s a great time to be getting the French defender back.
Emery has been masterfully utilizing his attacking options, with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang providing excellent maneuverability in terms of play. Lacazette has been making his presence known from the bench - perhaps not what the French striker would like as his first preference, but he has been undeniably effective when he’s been on the field.
When it comes to players behind the striker, Emery is a hard man to read - he uses Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey (who may be a doubt), Alex Iwobi and, when fit, Ozil interchangeably, tailoring his attacking line to his opponent. Based off the previous game, it would be unsurprising to see Ramsey (if fit) and Iwobi start the game behind Aubameyang.
The away contingent are not overly affected with injury woes - Wagner will be unable to select Abdelhamid Sabiri, who has a broken collarbone. Out through suspension is Phil Billing – who started the season well – and Steve Mounie. Chris Lowe should feature after recovering from a shoulder injury.
When it comes to personnel, Huddersfield, perhaps more so than any other team in the league, does not pack that many "big" names. That’s not to say there not capable of handling themselves - since their promotion from the Championship, Wagner’s side have pulled off plenty of impressive results, including an impressive 2-0 away dismantling of Wolves at the end of November.
The biggest threat in the team comes from the midfield in the shape of Aaron Mooy, who rarely puts a foot wrong. The Terrier’s number 10 has 2 goals to his name this campaign and will no doubt be eager to add more at the Emirates.
The standard at the top of the league this season is immense - Manchester City, and to a lesser but nonetheless impressive extent, Liverpool, have set a benchmark for quality in English football this season. Every point is so valuable in the top 5 places at the moment, which made the away draw to Manchester United feel like a poor result, as it was 2 points dropped.
Saturday represents a great opportunity to acquire 3 points, and with some of the other teams at the top being pitted against each other (Chelsea vs City, Bournemouth vs Liverpool), a win could potentially be very valuable to Emery and his team.
With that being the case, hopefully supporters can expect a repeat of last Sunday’s excellent home performance. The atmosphere at Arsenal is undeniably good at the moment, hopefully another positive result can keep it that way.
Arsenal play Huddersfield Town in the Premier League on Saturday the 8th of December at the Emirates Stadium with kick-off scheduled for 3PM local time.