Arsenal 3 – 1 Aston Villa
Arsenal welcomed Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium, looking to kick off their 2013/14 campaign with a win. With no big name signings, The Gunners had a familiar line up, and a stadium full of sceptical fans. [quote_right]’Giroud’s goal didn’t open up Villa’s visibly shaky defence thereafter. In fact, the goal only helped to galvanize The Villians.”[/quote_right]
Within the opening five minutes, Arsenal had secured a dream start. Oxlade-Chamberlain brought the ball down the left-wing, crossing low into the feet of Olivier Giroud, who had moved into space well, and finished calmly across the face of goal.
Unfortunately, Giroud’s goal didn’t open up Villa’s visibly shaky defence thereafter. In fact, the goal only helped to galvanize The Villians.
As the game progressed, Arsenal’s midfield seemed to lose its solidity, allowing Villa to come forward with some purpose. Wilshere, Ramsey and Rosicky were looking impressive on the ball, but lacklustre off it.
It was no surprise then, when in the twenty-fifth minute, Gabriel Agbonlahor raced through Arsenal’s static midfield, and skipped past Koscielny to put himself through on goal. Szczesney came out, brought Agbonlahor down,and got himself a yellow card. Benteke took the penalty, which was initially saved by Szczesney, but the rebound bounced favourably, allowing Benteke to head the ball into the net.
The goal rocked The Gunners, and a head injury for Kieran Gibbs meant that Carl Jenkinson was introduced, pushing Sagna to the vacant left-back position, further destabilising Arsenal’s awful defensive setup.
The rest of the first half consisted of some dangerous Aston Villa counter attacks, a few wild challenges, and some half-decent chances being missed for both sides. A typical first half Arsenal performance.
Instead of strengthening over time as Arsenal usually do, their second half simply went from bad to worse, to absolutely awful.
Despite some good combinations from Rosicky and Giroud in and around the Villa box, The Gunners just couldn’t find a way through. As play went on, a goal from Arsenal looked imminent, until disaster struck.
Santi Cazorla’s casual play on the half-way line allowed Agbonlahor to dispossess him, who then used his pace to drive into the Arsenal box. Fortunately, Laurent Koscielny was on hand. The Frenchman slid in, won the ball, and got up in preparation for the impending corner. Unfortunately, referee Anthony Taylor thought otherwise,as he pointed to the spot. Again.[quote_left]”Although he made no contact with the Villa player, the referee – in all his Conference League quality wisdom, sent the Frenchman off.”[/quote_left]
Arsenal fan Benteke stepped up again, and this time made no mistake with his penalty, slotting it into the bottom corner. Koscielny was booked, and Arsenal were flabbergasted. But the worst was yet to come.
Benteke’s double hit Arsenal hard, and Villa could sense it. Just ten minutes after his booking, Koscielny looked to cut out a Villa attack with a strong tackle. He came in on his feet, but aggressively. Although he made no contact with the Villa player, the referee – in all his Conference League quality wisdom, sent the Frenchman off.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal continued to wither. Some excellent touches from Giroud helped Arsenal get behind Villa’s defence on a few occasions, but each chance was scuppered time after time.
As the game drew to a close, Villa decided that they wanted three goals,as well as three points. Arsenal threw their team forwards in a hope to equalise,leaving Luna with acres of space to run into after a standard pas through the middle. Luna strolled up the Szczsney, who couldn’t help but watch as the ball rolled into the corner of his net. It was a shambles.
Villa’s third goal sent the Arsenal fans into a fit of rage. Cries of “Spend some F****** money!” rung around the stadium, and with the state of the scoreline, as well as the thin, inexperienced Arsenal bench, the cries were nothing but justified.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Had some dodgy moments, especially when a clearance went pear-shaped, leading to a frantic save off the line. However, none of the goals can be blamed on him, and he did well to save Benteke’s initial penalty kick.
Bacary looked assured in his usual right-back position, and also did very well at left-back after Gibbs’ injury. Did well to get forward whenever he could.
Made some good interceptions, but looked very uncomfortable in the face of Benteke. Some sharp turns often left him scrambling, but all in all, he got his job done.
Laurent’s first half was seamless, but his second was tainted by his two yellow cards. The first, was a fantastic challenge. The second, was not a challenge at all. However, just ten minutes after being booked, he should not have flown in as aggressively.
Only managed twenty-five minutes before a head injury forced him off, but he made no errors, and got forward on many occasions.
Aaron made some excellent challenges, especially in the first half. However, he didn’t manage to fill the boots of Arteta. Villa’s attackers strolled through our midfield regularly, and as our defensive midfielder on the day, you cannot help but look at Ramsey.
Jack looked fit and ready to take on Villa’s midfield, but he definitely lacked his offensive spark. We needed him to distribute the ball better than he did, and also to do better defensively to help Ramsey out.
The Ox: [7/10]
Only managed the first half, but Alex looked very energetic down the left-wing. He did well to pick up the ball and get the assist for Giroud’s opener.
Looked extremely uncomfortable in the first half,giving the ball away way too often. The second half was slightly better, as he linked up with Giroud brilliantly on a number of attacks. However, with two clear chances on goal, he missed both.
Theo got 21 goals and 17 assists last season, but you couldn’t have guessed from today’s performance. In fixtures where the chips are down, his pace and agility is precisely what we need to change things. Unfortunately, he just didn’t turn up.
MOTM. As well as scoring, Olivier showed great touches and passes on several occasions. He put Rosicky on goal twice, and won numerous aerial battles. His heading in front of goal needs to be more accurate though.
Didn’t do much wrong defensively, but perhaps could have got forward a little more often. Didn’t play a big role.
Santi didn’t make much happen throughout his forty-five minutes on the pitch, and instead helped Villa get their second penalty through some sloppy, casual play. Showed some quick feet under pressure at other times.
What went wrong? Take your pick.
Arsene Wenger’s failure to add to the squad certainly played a part, along with poor midfield and defensive play from Arsenal throughout the game. Mikel Arteta’s absence also didn’t help.
Arsenal’s squad is so thin, that it’s worrying. With Kieran Gibbs now injured, and Koscielny banned, our near future defensive lineups will certainly be interesting. Interestingly bad.
Today’s performance summed up the one thing every Arsenal fan yelled towards the final whistle. Arsenal need to spend some ‘effing money.
What did you think of the Arsenal vs Aston Villa match? Share your views in the comments section below!