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Report | Injury-hit Hatters go down to narrow defeat

3 April 2024

Club News

Report | Injury-hit Hatters go down to narrow defeat

3 April 2024

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Defeated but not deflated.

With a mounting injury crisis well into double figures the Hatters arrived at the Emirates to face a title-chasing Arsenal aiming to pull off one of the biggest results in the club’s history but left with their heads still high in a performance full of pride despite a narrow defeat.

Arsenal ran the show in the first half and were two goals to the good at the break.

Yet there were moments before the Gunners led when the Town showed glimpses of the good side they are with Ross Barkley pulling the strings in midfield, a nut-meg here and delicious cross-field pass there.

But Arsenal’s slick attacking play was rewarded in the 24th minute when Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu – making his 399 appearance – was dispossessed in midfield by Emile Smith Rowe. The midfielder released Martin Odegaard and after exchanging passes with Kai Havertz the Gunners captain steered a fine finish beyond Thomas Kaminski.

Behind the Town rallied and their response to the hosts’ opener was heartening. A teasing right-wing cross from Andros Townsend needed to be dealt with by David Raya before Jordan Clark nodded wide at the back post having been found by another deep Townsend centre.

Arsenal almost made it 2-0 when Kaminski saved from Smith Rowe on ten minutes before the break. The injury worries looked set to continue shortly after that chance with both Daiki Hashioka and Teden Mengi needing treatment.

The duo recovered but shortly after Arsenal went close again the home side did double their lead. Smith Rowe was found smartly in space down the left and he patiently waited for a teammate to arrive in the six-yard box. Reiss Nelson was first to it but the ball inadvertently clipped the boot of the unfortunate Hashioka and the scoreboard read 2-0.

Barkley had the Town’s first shot on target with a free-kick from range second before the break and after the interval the Hatters continued to hold the hosts at bay.

In fact for much of the second half the Hatters were pushing for a route back into the game and threatened the Arsenal back-line with substitute Tahith Chong giving extra zest to the Town attack.

Fred Onyedinma, making his first Premier League start, called Raya into a routine save on 62 minutes but the second half.

But Arsenal were a shadow of their first half selves, lacking the verve that cut the Town open for long spells and, as the Town’s 3,000 supporters sung their hearts out, their side continue to have their fair share of the ball.

It wasn’t until two minutes from the end that the Gunners called Kaminski into action when the Belgian turned substitute Eddie Nketiah’s low shot around the post.

Half-chances for Hashioka and substitute Luke Berry failed to add a consolation that would have extended their 18-match scoring streak but come the final whistle the Hatters could be proud of their performance against one of the country’s best sides.

We head to the Kenny on Saturday when we face Bournemouth.

We’ll soon you then.

Town: Kaminski, Kaboré, Hashioka, Mengi, Doughty, Onyedinma (sub Woodrow 75), Barkley, Mpanzu (sub Chong 53), Clark, Townsend (sub Berry 81), Morris.

Subs not used: Shea, Krul, Berry, Johnson, Chigozie, Nelson, Piesold.

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