Huddersfield push lucky Arsenal to the limit

A late penalty by Fabregas won an untidy game in which Huddersfield, of League One, had largely outplayed the big boys.

Bendtner had a nightmare.

Early on,  Bendtner was too clumsy to connect with a near-post cross by Arshavin.  Soon after that he  waved his boot vaguely when a Nasri cross found him unmarked at the far post, then  turned round with a big grin on his face.

And it was the wrong kind of grin. There was no apology in it, no disappointment, no frustration, no caring, no hand going up to signal : Sorry, I got that all wrong.

Then Bendtner went on a run and hit a shot that was missing the far post.By connecting with the ball, he did better than he did with previous efforts but his “shot” was going well wide when it hit Huddersfield captain Peter Clarke and deflected in for an own goal.

After 21 minutes, it was 1-0.

Arsenal had scored the jammiest goal of the FA Cup 4th Round.

Soon after that, Squillaci was very lucky not to score an own-goal when Hunt’s right wing cross flew across the goalmouth.

After Nasri went off in 33 with what might be a serious hamstring pull, Joey Gudjonsson, who had a storming game, got behind Koscielny to send a header just wide.

Then Jack Hunt dispossessed Arshavin in the right back position and raced into the Arsenal half, swerved inside Denilson and Koscielny before running straight into Squillaci, who was almost alongside his mate. The centreback didn’t move his feet or his body, but referee Mark Clattenburg sent Squillaci off. Surely the softest straight red card of 2011 so far.

After 42 minutes Arsenal were a man down but a goal up.

Almunia clawed away Alan Lee’s bouncing header, but when Pilkington flighted a corner nicely,  his positioning was pure Fawlty Towers as Lee scored with a terrific header. The hapless keeper was everywhere but where he should have been. Diaby was marking Lee but didn’t jump or prevent the header.

So it was 1-1 in 66 minutes.

In 86, when defender Jamie McCombe touched Bendtner with his arm, the Dane collapsed in the box, knowing he was too slow to reach a swift, incisive pass by sub Fabregas, who came on for the last 21 minutes.

Clattenberg then gave a decision which was even worse that his Squillaci decision: he handed Arsenal a penalty to win the game.

Another ref might have booked Bendtner for diving. Fabregas checked his run-up, checked again, and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-1.

When Nicklas Bendtner is bad, he’s hopeless. But sometimes he”s lucky. Mostly, he’s average, a mid-table player. On his very best day, Bendtner is 60% of an Arsenal player.

So Arsenal’s ten men ended with game with Denilson limping after a hamstring injury, and Fabregas being given a yellow card for time-wasting.

Huddersfield played well and didn’t deserve to lose. Arsenal scrambled through but lost two players.

 FA Cup 5th Round draw

West Ham United v Burnley

Notts County or Manchester City v Aston Villa

Stoke   v Brighton

Birmingham v Sheffield Wednesday

Leyton Orient v Arsenal

Everton or Chelsea v Reading

Manchester United v Crawley Town

Fulham v Bolton or Wigan

Ties to be played 19-20 February