Aston Villa 1 – 2 Arsenal
After a much-needed nine-day break following a win at home to Spurs, The Gunners travelled north to play Aston Villa. Arsenal needed all three points to regain their spot at the top of the league, whilst Villa were desperate to improve their home record, and increase their buffer zone between them and the relegation places.[quote_right]”The Gunners dictated play beautifully, pinging the ball from left to right, and back again, from the boots of Cazorla, Wilshere and Ozil.”[/quote_right]
Arsenal dominated the opening half.
For the first thirty minutes, The Gunners dictated play beautifully, pinging the ball from left to right, and back again, from the boots of Cazorla, Wilshere and Ozil.
Bar a lengthy head injury to Baker following a powerful Serge Gnabry shot to the face, Arsenal maintained their grip on the game, until the thirty-fourth minute, where they broke the deadlock.
Mesut Ozil played a delicious ball through to Monreal, who crossed to Wilshere on the edge of the box, who controlled the ball, and then struck it low into the bottom corner. A deserved goal.
Less than a minute later, Arsenal got another.
Jack Wilshere was involved once again, as he lofted in a great ball to Giroud, who’s first touch was perfect. He brought the ball down, and lashed it past Guzan. It was a rather beautiful goal actually.
For the rest of the half though, it was Aston Villa who looked more dangerous.
The Gunners took their foot off the pedal, whilst Villa re-fuelled their engines. Agbonlahor, Benteke and Delph all brightened up, bringing the ball forward, and testing the Arsenal back line. But it held strong regardless.
After eight minutes of extra time, the whistle blew, and Arsenal were very much in charge.
The second half was a little different.[quote_left]”Arsenal were biding their time, enjoying their two goal lead – which is always a dangerous game to play…”[/quote_left]
Arsenal were biding their time, enjoying their two goal lead – which is always a dangerous game to play. Aston Villa meanwhile, were slowly building momentum.
In the seventy-sixth minute, it got very, very nervy. Cazorla gave the ball away to Lowton in his own half, and the Villa defender whipped in a brilliant ball to the back post. Benteke was lurking, and he executed a great diving header to pull one back for his team.
Villa Park exploded. The fans were now in full voice, and Arsenal suddenly found themselves on the back foot. The Gunners were in dangerous territory, hanging on by a one-goal lead.
Yet, for the remaining fifteen minutes, Arsenal defended well, repelled Villa’s advances, and tried to pick their moments on the counter.
The whistle eventually blew, and Arsenal were safe and sound, topping the table.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Made a couple of important saves, couldn’t do much about the goal.
A bit edgy on the ball, especially late in the second half. Yet he still made some good tackles, and got forward at will.
Per did his usual job at the back, kept things tight and read the game well. You could argue that he should have been more aware of Benteke for the Belgian’s goal.
Laurent was brilliant at the back. He won countless headers, made many clearances, and did well in the first half to dispossess Agbonlahor in front of goal. Solid performance.
Nacho was buzzing up and down the wing, and managed to get himself in some interesting positions. Did well to grab an assist for Wilshere. Had to be replaced by Gibbs due to what looks like a minor knee injury.
The Frenchman was quiet at times, but he really popped up when we needed him. He made some key interceptions, kept the ball moving, and broke up play very well.
Wilshere: [8/10] – MOTM
Jack did very well to get himself a goal with a smart finish, but did even better to assist Giroud with a wonderful aerial ball. Apart from that, he worked hard, tackled, and tried to push Arsenal forward.
Santi was nothing short of poor. His passing was all over the place, and he was the culprit for Benteke’s goal, as he gifted the ball to Lowton. Muscled off the ball countless times.
Serge worked hard, got himself into good positions, and tried to drive Arsenal forward. The service wasn’t really there for him to make runs in behind, mainly due to Villa playing so deep. Subbed.
Looked a little lazy today, but he still mae an impact. His excellent pass to Monreal helped create Wilshere’s goal, whilst he did very well on a few occasions to hold the ball up in the final third, trying to create chances. Needs to start working hard, and need to start taking more shots on goal.
Olivier’s goal was superb. His first touch was perfect, and his finish was spot on. Other than that, he chased back, won tackles, made good passes, and looked hungry. Good to have him back fit and rested.
Worked hard when he came on, but only had a few minutes before Agbonlahor elbowed his nose into a bloody mess. Replaced late on by The Ox.
The Ox: [N/A]
[title]Table Toppers (Again)[/title]
So, Arsenal top the table – again.
Villa put up a decent fight, it must be said. They shook our defences in the second half, and they managed to keep out many of our promising attacking spells. Cazorla was the weak link, whilst Koscielny, Wilshere and Giroud in particular all weighed in to pull Arsenal through.
With Man City and Chelsea biting at our heels, we cannot afford a single slip up. A scary, yet exciting thought.
Next up, Fulham. Another three points please lads.