Huddersfield can’t be taken lightly, says former Gunner Hayes

Former Arsenal star Martin Hayes was very close to being in the opposition dug-out at the Emirates this Sunday lunchtime.

As manager of Blue Square outfit Dover Athletic, his side were beaten 2-0 at Huddersfield in the third round, denying him a competitive return to the club where he started his playing career.

Hayes, now 44, will still be at the game – co-commentating for Arsenal TV Online.

“We had a great run and made Dover Athletic some much needed money – not as much as the chairman would have liked, but never mind, it was still great to get so far.

“Now, though, we want to concentrate on the league – we say good luck to Huddersfield who will no doubt enjoy their day at the Emirates whatever the result,” he says.


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This weekend’s tie could have seen Hayes watching two of his former clubs; he turned down a move to the Terriers back in 1986 – and went on to score 24 goals for the Gunners in George Graham’s debut season as Highbury manager.

Here he gives Ham&High Sport his verdict on the Gunners’ League One opponents.

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KEY MAN

Well, they have three really. They have just signed former Everton midfielder Kevin Kilbane on loan from Hull City – he just sits in the middle and uses all his experience to set the tempo and get his team-mates playing. He is still a decent player, believe me – very impressive.

I also liked the look of their two wingers – Anthony Pilkington and Gary Roberts, who scored against us at the Galpharm.

STRENGTHS

Those two wingers can play a bit. They like to get outside and take full-backs on, but they can also come inside and cause real danger. They were 2-0 up against us before we knew it and played a big part.

What I also liked about Huddersfield is that they like to play the game properly. In fact, I joked at the time that they are a little bit like ‘Arsenal Lite’.

Their manager, Lee Clark, really likes to get the ball down. They will have a go at Arsenal playing the right way – he likes his sides to play and pass, so it should be a good game to watch. The full-backs also like to push on and can cause problems.

One other thing too; they are a deceptively strong side. Yes, they like to play. But they can also hold their own physically and can mix it if they need to.

WEAKNESSES

A lack of mobility in the centre. My Dover side discovered that too late – even then we must have created three or four very good chances in the last few minutes.

Through the middle, as the game wore on, we managed to exploit this. We began to really get behind them with pace and passing and they struggled, to be honest.

I imagine a side like Arsenal, who can play and pass so quickly, will exploit that far more ruthlessly than we managed to.

I mean, with a bit of luck we could have sneaked a draw in the last 15 minutes the way we kept slicing through them.

I like the centre halves – they are proper, old fashioned, ‘head it out and boot it clear’ types, a bit like Tony Adams, only not as good. But they began to struggle with our incisive play as the game wore on.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

Huddersfield are a bigger version of Dover Athletic. They’ll enjoy their cup run, hopefully will make some money, but really they don’t want to stay in the competition for too long because they have aspirations to move up a division.

We took 1,900 fans up there on a 450-mile trip, which is phenomenal for a club our size – they were telling us only Leeds had taken more there in recent seasons.

“And we came away from there with our pride intact, knowing we had given them a good game and had played our way.

I think they will do the same at the Emirates. I see them having a go at Arsenal, knowing a defeat is expected.

“Lee is a bright young manager and is doing things properly. He will say to his lads to go out there and enjoy the experience of playing against superior players. They have talent and can cause Arsenal problems – but I would expect the home side to go through pretty comfortably.

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