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13 May 2018 Venue John Smith's Stadium Attendance

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Match Reports


13 May 2018

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Arsène Wenger ended his sterling reign as Arsenal Manager by watching his side come away with a narrow 1-0 victory despite Huddersfield Town having much the better of the play.

Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked home for the Gunners mid-way through the first-half, but the end result did little to dampen celebratory spirits as the target of Premier League safety had already been sensationally acquired during the mid-week draw at Chelsea.

Amongst a jubilant party atmosphere at the John Smith's Stadium, Town's starting XI had four changes made to it following on from that memorable night down in west London on Wednesday. Alex Pritchard, Tom Ince, Florent Hadergjonaj and Steve Mounié were all recalled by the Head Coach, meaning that Rajiv van La Parra, Philip Billing, Tommy Smith and Laurent Depoitre dropped out. Mathias Zanka and Jonas Lössl completing the entirety of the contest ensured the Danish pair played in every single minute of Premier League football over the course of the year.

Each side also had a respective player who was to bow out of the professional game in the aftermath of this season-ending fixture. Town's Dean Whitehead and Arsenal's Per Mertesacker hung up their boots; both doing so with illustrious careers behind them.

Although nothing was ultimately riding on the encounter, Town's start was electrifying, with two major chances. Firstly, Steve Mounié's powerful header took a great stop from Ospina, before a goal-mouth scramble very nearly resulted in Christopher Schindler bundling home through a large numbers of bodies.

It continued to be Town who fashioned the better openings. A delightful channel ball allowed Alex Pritchard to seize upon having used tremendous movement, and as the attacking midfielder ghosted to the by-line, Pritchard found Tom Ince's un-challenged run in the area. Somehow Tom couldn't follow up his previous strike against Watford by blazing well over the target from close range.

Ince found himself in the thick of the action minutes later. Steve Mounié's delicate lay-off found the re-instated winger wide on the left, but this time the resulting effort thudded into the side-netting. Nonetheless, the opening exchanges had been exceptional from a Terriers point of view; the crowd was in fine voice, the sun was shining, and the pressure was well and truly off as that all-important Premier League status had of course already been preserved.

It took 27 minutes for Arsenal to have a real sighting of goal. Sead Kolašinac slid wide from a front-post flick-on which managed to squirm its way all the way through to the opposite side of the area.

Back at the other end, that man Pritchard was proving to be a real handful for the visiting defence, with a mazy run past two Arsenal markers was disappointingly brought to an end by a loose touch just as the trigger looked like it was about to be pulled.

But despite Town shading the quality of chances, it was the north Londoners who went ahead.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished off a neat move which saw Aaron Ramsey deliver tantalisingly across the face of goal having been released down the left channel.

The opener far from silenced the Terriers faithful. In fact, the noise levels ramped up a notch. Today was a celebration, and the sell-out crowd was determined to see that through, regardless of the outcome.

On the field, their side wasn't doing a great deal wrong. A pattern similar to that of the reverse fixture back in November seemed to crop up.

Emotions certainly ran high as Arsène Wenger emerged from the tunnel to take up his seat in the dugout for the final time as Gunners boss as the second-half commenced.

As Town looked to end the season with some sort of reward, the fans were inches from being treated to a remarkable overhead kick from Steve Mounié. The Benin striker tried his spectacular effort on the edge of the six-yard area, and did everything but connect as Mustafi struggled to contain Steve's physicality.

The Terriers really were piling on the pressure. Alex Pritchard's touch and flick to open up space for Tom Ince saw the latter witness a curving left-footed strike agonisingly tipped round the post by the out-stretched fingertips of David Ospina.

Jonathan Hogg was the next man to thump goal-wards, with it taking a heroic Rob Holding block to divert out of harms way.

It really was turning out to be a sensational afternoon all-round despite the score-line. Steve Mounié and Laurent Depoitre couldn't take advantage of a quick break-away after Kolašinac produced a timely recovery as mid-week hero Lolo hunted another goal to add to his tally for the campaign.

Arsenal had found forward ventures somewhat of a rarity in the second-45. Aaron Ramsey thought he'd worked himself a chance for a clear strike towards Jonas Lössl, but as the Welsh midfielder shaped to fire, Zanka covered round superbly to clear his lines with effect.

Lössl continued his fine form between the sticks with a string of excellent saves to deny a combination of Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck. Lacazette had also played a quiet role up top for the away side, and the French striker's first real chance of the game was caught with aplomb as Lössl collected a weak chip. Welbeck followed up to sprint away from Terence Kongolo, but Town's Danish custodian smartly reacted to keep out the former Manchester United man.

Already a day of epic proportions, with the honour of hosting Arsène Wenger's departing clash, as well as the celebration of the epic achievement of Premier League survival; but there was a further special moment, as David Wagner introduced Dean Whitehead for the remaining five minutes of the clash. Deano entered the field to a rapturous welcome, replacing Jonathan Hogg, who himself received the strongest of ovations having played a pivotal part in the survival bid.

Town may well have levelled proceedings late on. Aaron Mooy cracked a sweet volley against the cross-bar, and Laurent Depoitre saw a header clawed off the line by Ospina. That well and truly summed up the notion that the ball just wouldn't go over the line.

A defeat maybe; but as Town's players celebrated on full-time ahead of completing a thoroughly deserved lap of honour, the main issue had already been settled. That come August, HD1 would be seeing the welcome return of top-flight football.

TOWN (3-5-2): Jonas Lössl; Terence Kongolo, Christopher Schindler, Mathias Zanka; Chris Löwe, Jonathan Hogg (c) (Dean Whitehead, 87'), Aaron Mooy, Tom Ince (Laurent Depoitre, 61'), Florent Hadergjonaj; Steve Mounié (Philip Billing, 78'), Alex Pritchard

UNUSED SUBS: Joel Coleman, Tommy Smith, Jon Gorenc Stanković, Abdelhamid Sabiri

ARSENAL: David Ospina; Sead Kolašinac (Nacho Monreal, 66'), Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Héctor Bellerin; Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey (c); Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Danny Welbeck, 66'), Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi (Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 72'); Alexandre Lacazette

UNUSED SUBS: Matt Macey, Per Mertesacker, Edward Nketiah, Joe Willock

REFEREE: Michael Oliver

ATTENDANCE: 24,121 (2147 Arsenal)

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