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Arsenal’s £280k-p/w star dropped a “monster performance” vs Luton

And breathe. Arsenal‘s match with Luton didn’t look like a classic on paper but it gave us one of the most memorable games of Premier League football we’ll see all season.

It was an end-to-end thriller at Kenilworth Road as the Gunners amazingly visited a ground where they hadn’t won in their last ten outings.

That run looked like extending on Tuesday evening, only for Declan Rice‘s last-gasp heroics.

Luton were dogged and caused Mikel Arteta‘s men plenty of problems. Twice the Hatters went behind, only to pull things back to 3-2. They couldn’t hold on, however, as the north Londoners rallied to fight back themselves.

David Raya hadn’t covered himself in glory prior to that, failing to claim a corner and ending up in no-man’s land for Luton’s second, before allowing Ross Barkley’s shot to squirm under him for the third. It’s safe to say Arsenal’s goalkeeper debate isn’t dying down anytime soon.

Fortunately, Kai Havertz was on hand to prod home and then Rice was there at the death to score a late winner in particularly remarkable fashion.

Declan Rice vs Luton Town in numbers

How many times are Arsenal going to score late winners this season? A week and a half ago Havertz arrived right on cue at the back stick to rescue all three points at the death against Brentford.

This time out, it was Rice – scorer of another late goal against Manchester United earlier in the season – who performed the vital rescue act.

With the clock ticking into its 98th minute, Martin Odegaard swept a ball into the area. The £105m summer signing got ahead of his marker and rose highest to glance the ball into the bottom corner. Cue pandemonium in the away end as Rice and his colleagues dashed off to celebrate moving five points at the top of the league.

The former West Ham man’s performance was about much more than his goal, however.

Rice is certainly a man of the big occasion and he rose his performance level to an incredibly high level in Luton on Tuesday, winning four of the eight duels he contested during the encounter.

Furthermore, the England international made seven ball recoveries – the highest of anyone in Arsenal colours – and nine passes into the final third. That stat was only bettered by Odegaard for Arteta’s side.


Declan-Rice-Arsenal-Luton

It was a titanic performance from a player who since signing a few months ago has very rarely delivered a bad moment.

That said, there was another in fluorescent colours who deserved just as much praise; Havertz.

Kai Havertz vs Luton Town in numbers

At long, long last Havertz has arrived at Arsenal. During the opening few months of the campaign, debate was rife as to why exactly the Gunners had spent £65m to acquire him from Chelsea.

Indeed, prior to the November international break, the German had only found the net on one occasion, from the penalty spot against lowly Bournemouth.


Kai-Havertz-Arsenal-Luton

However, since the break ended, the £280k-per-week midfielder has revived his career in some style.

That late winner against Brentford appears to have kickstarted his time at the Emirates, notably then scoring against Lens in the Champions League a week later.

He then netted his third goal in four games versus Luton on Tuesday, scoring a vital third strike in the tie. Bukayo Saka looped a ball forward which Gabriel Jesus was then able to manoeuvre into the path of Havertz. His finish was simple but tidy, steering it into the net from close range.

Like Rice, though, the German’s display was about more than his goal. Arsenal reporter Connor Humm suggested it was a “monster performance” and that it was from a player who won ten duels throughout his time on the pitch, the most of any Gunners player.

Kai Havertz vs Luton

Touches

52

Touches in oppo box

8

Shots

5

Dribble Success

100%

Passes into final third

6

Chances created

4

Defensive actions

4

Recoveries

6

Duels won

10

Stats via Fotmob.

The league leaders weren’t shy of chances but his four key passes, as per Fotmob, happened to be the second-most of any Arsenal man, behind only Jesus and Odegaard with five each. Coincidentally, those two were the only players from the visiting side to have more touches in the opposition’s penalty area than Havertz.

Truth be told, Arsenal did get away with it against the Hatters. Offensively, they were at their best but defensively it was a night to forget. Either way, Arteta will have to take the positives, and Havertz was certainly one of them.


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