AS a youngster, Karlan Grant dreamed of scoring for his beloved Arsenal.
Next best on his wishlist was finding the net against the club he supported.
No wonder, therefore, the 21-year-old was so adamant that the last touch had been his when Huddersfield Town’s goal drought ended just three minutes short of 10 hours in stoppage-time against the north London club.
“It was definitely my goal,” Town’s London-born striker told The Yorkshire Post about a goal credited to Gunners defender Sead Kolasinac after he appeared to touch the ball over the line at the end of an almighty scramble also involving Nacho Monreal and Adama Diakhaby.
“I am claiming it, 100 per cent. I do not know who the defender was, but he kicked it on to me and it went in off my knee.
“I am an Arsenal fan so it was a great experience to face them. It is just a shame that the game did not go on for another 10 minutes after we scored.”
One for the Premier League’s dubious goals panel, it seems. What is surely not open to debate, though, is the bleak state of Town’s season.
Defeat to Arsenal was their seventh in a row on home soil. Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative have also taken just a solitary goalless draw from the last 13 games, while their tally of 11 points after 26 games is the fourth lowest in Premier League history.
Huddersfield also have just 14 goals to their name all season and yet this latest loss saw the players applauded from the field by supporters who had long ago resigned themselves to relegation.
Such a reception was deserved. Arsenal may have claimed victory thanks to first-half goals from Academy graduate Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette, the £52.7m signing from Lyon.
But Town’s performance, particularly in the second half, was a reminder of happier times at the John Smith’s Stadium as one of English football’s elite was made to work very hard for the three points.
Unai Emery’s men did deserve to win. Even allowing for the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil, the Gunners have the attacking swagger that can turn defence into attack at lightning speed.
This much was clear from the opening goal in the 16th minute. When Town were penalised 35 yards from the visitors’ goal for handball there seemed little danger for head coach Jan Siewert’s men. Fifteen seconds later, however, Ben Hamer was picking the ball out of his net after Iwobi’s shot had taken enough of a deflection to leave the Terriers goalkeeper wrong-footed.
Arsenal’s second on the stroke of half-time was equally swift and clinical.
Even Christopher Schindler initially getting a foot to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s attempted cross only held up the attack for a moment or so before Ainsley Maitland-Niles swooped and picked out Lacazette for a tap-in.
Town’s response was impressive, their second-half display being as good as anything seen at the John Smith’s since November yielded four points from home games against Fulham and West Ham United.
Diakhaby, finally starting to look like the player who cost £8m from Monaco last summer, brought a smart save from Bernd Leno.
Erik Durm then saw his cross diverted onto the top of the crossbar before Elias Kachunga was too slow to react when Leno could only palm another effort from Diakhaby back into a scrum of players, Monreal eventually humping the ball to safety.
Next to try his luck was Laurent Depoitre, the Belgian’s drilled shot missing the target by inches, before Huddersfield’s second-half efforts were finally rewarded by a first goal since Steve Mounie had scored in the January 2 defeat to Burnley.
Aaron Mooy’s pass to release Diakhaby caused sufficient panic in the Arsenal backline for Monreal and Kolasinac to get in each other’s way. The ball crossed the line via the Bosnian’s leg with Grant applying sufficient pressure to claim legitimately that he may have got the final touch.
“I felt we showed great character in the second half,” said the £1.5m January arrival from Charlton Athletic. “We were pushing at them throughout. We got the goal, but, unfortunately, it was too late.”
As for Town having the fourth-worst points tally in Premier League history with a dozen games remaining – just Portsmouth (six, 2009-10), Derby (six, 2007-08) and Sunderland (nine, 2005-06) having fewer – Grant insists all is not lost.
“If staying up is mathematically possible then we have to believe it can happen,” he added. “The league position does not faze me. I see in training just how good the team is.
“Losing 5-0 at Chelsea (on his debut nine days ago) was hard to take. But against Arsenal I felt we showed great character and kept applying pressure.
“The boys have great desire. If we go a goal down it is not the end of the world. We showed that against Arsenal.”