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Preview: Huddersfield Town vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League meeting between Huddersfield Town and Arsenal.

Inconsistent Arsenal will be aiming to return to winning ways on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Premier League basement boys Huddersfield Town.

The Gunners have lost two and won two of their last four top-flight matches to fall three points adrift of Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish, while Huddersfield have been cast adrift at the bottom.

Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town manager Jan Siewert reacts during his side's Premier League clash with Chelsea on February 2, 2019© Reuters

The picture is looking particularly bleak for Huddersfield on the back of their resounding 5-0 loss to Chelsea last weekend, which leaves them rooted to the foot of the table and now 13 points from safety.

Relegation appears a certainty for the Terriers, but they will be keen to avoid going down as the Premier League's joint-worst ever side. Having collected just one point from the last 36 on offer, they are level with the infamous Derby County side of 2007-08.

Huddersfield will fancy their chances of adding at least one more point to their tally over their remaining 13 matches, with fellow strugglers Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace and Southampton still to face, but there is no doubt that they are stuck in a deep rut.

Jan Siewert was brought in as David Wagner's successor last month and is tasked with steadying the ship ahead of next season, when Town will be expected to challenge for an instant return to the Premier League.

Five matches without a goal in all competitions, a run that includes a 1-0 loss to Championship side Bristol City in the FA Cup third round, goes a long way to highlighting Huddersfield's biggest problem this season.

In fact, the Terriers' return of five goals in their 13 home league games this season is the joint-worst ever at this stage of a top-flight season. Only Arsenal, in the 1912-13 season, have ever scored as few after the same number of matches.

A failure to score goals, and indeed an inability to keep out the opposition, means that Town have lost their last six home Premier League matches. Defeat this weekend would see them close in on Wolverhampton Wanderers' record from April 2012 for the most home losses in succession, which currently stands at nine.

English football's most out-of-form side have a number of negative records to avoid when Arsenal visit the John Smith's Stadium on Saturday, then, and only a shock victory will suffice if they are to pull off the greatest of great escapes.

Recent form in Premier League: LLDLLL
Recent form (all competitions): LLDLLL


Arsenal's players celebrate after scoring against Manchester City in the Premier League on February 3, 2019© Reuters

Arsenal showed good consistency earlier in the campaign by going 22 matches without defeat in all competitions, leading to supporters' expectations growing somewhat, but their form since that run ended with defeat at Southampton in mid-December has been mixed to say the least.

The Gunners have won five, drawn one and lost six of their last 12 matches in all competitions. A 2-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League three weeks ago, followed by a 2-1 home win against Cardiff City, revived their top-four hopes, only for a 3-1 loss to Manchester City last time out to set them back.

With Manchester United hitting peak form and Chelsea doing just about enough to stay in the final Champions League qualification spot, Arsenal know that they cannot afford to drop too many more points between now and the end of the season.

Finishing fourth and winning some silverware will be the target for Unai Emery in his first campaign at the Emirates Stadium and, following defeat to Man United in the last-16 stage of the FA Cup, the Europa League remains the best avenue for the Spaniard to tick both of those boxes.

Arsenal's European campaign resumes next week with a trip to BATE in the first leg of the first knockout round. Before then, Emery will be keen to keep pace with Chelsea and Man United in the Premier League, with the latter three points better off following last weekend's results.

The Gunners will also be going in search of their first away clean sheet of the Premier League campaign - their last shutout on the road coming at Huddersfield on the final day of the 2017-18 campaign, which doubled up as Arsene Wenger's final match in charge.

Keeping out the division's lowest scorers will help Arsenal to end their six-match winless run on their travels, the last three of which have ended in defeat to Liverpool, West Ham United and Man City. Having scored at least twice in their first eight away games this season, the North London outfit have not netted more than once in their last four.

In what is a big month for Arsenal in two competitions, this would be the perfect time to put together another winning run. For a side without three wins on the spin since the end of November going into December, though, that will be no easy feat.

Recent form in Premier League: LWLWWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLWL

Team News

Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi grimaces in pain during his side's Premier League clash with Manchester City on February 3, 2019© Reuters

Shkodran Mustafi added to Emery's injury woes with the back problem that forced him off at the Etihad Stadium last week. Rob Holding and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are confirmed out, so Konstantinos Mavropanos could make just a fourth Premier League start.

There is also a question mark over the fitness of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who missed out against Man City, meaning that Stephan Lichtsteiner or Carl Jenkinson will likely be used at right-back in a four-man defence.

Granit Xhaka, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin are Arsenal's other confirmed absentees, but Emery can at least call upon Denis Suarez following the versatile midfielder's loan move from Barcelona.

There should also be a start for Alexandre Lacazette, who has scored nine goals in the Premier League this season, seven of those being the winning goal - only Mohamed Salah (8) has scored more winners in 2018-19.

In terms of the hosts, Siewert recalled Aaron Mooy and Philip Billing to his starting lineup against Chelsea and both men are fit to retain their midfield places on Saturday.

Abdelhamid Sabiri and Danny Williams are out, though, while Isaac Mbenza and Jonathan Hogg will have to undergo late fitness tests.

Siewert may tinker with his forward line on the back of another blank last week, with Steve Mounie the obvious replacement for Elias Kachunga through the middle, unless Mbenza is declared unfit to start on the right.

Huddersfield Town possible starting lineup:
Lossl; Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Kongolo; Billing, Bacuna, Mooy; Diakhaby, Mounie, Mbenza

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mavropanos, Monreal; Suarez, Torreira, Guendouzi; Ramsey; Lacazette, Aubameyang

Head To Head

Huddersfield are without a win in 11 competitive matches against Arsenal, losing nine and drawing two since a 2-1 victory in January 1971.

The Gunners have won their first three Premier League meetings with the Terriers - only against Watford (7), Reading (6), Wolves (6), Wigan Athletic (5), Cardiff City (4) and Fulham (4) have they won four or more against an opponent.

Town have won only one of their last 16 home games in all competitions against this weekend's opponents.

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We say: Huddersfield Town 0-3 Arsenal

Arsenal have lacked the consistency to keep hold of fourth place, but this match presents them with a good opportunity to return to winning ways and potentially improve their goal difference. Huddersfield appear destined to be plying their trade in the second tier again next season, meanwhile, and it could be a case of damage limitation against another of the division's heavyweight clubs.

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Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in action during his side's Premier League clash with West Ham on January 12, 2019
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