Aug 17, 6 days ago

Spend Some…: Arsenal 1 - 3 Aston Villa – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
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.

‘Giroud’s goal didn’t open up Villa’s visibly shaky defence thereafter. In fact, the goal only helped to galvanize The Villians.”

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.

“Although he made no contact with the Villa player, the referee - in all his Conference League quality wisdom, sent the Frenchman off.”

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.

Arsenal Player Ratings

Szczesny: [6.5/10]
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.

Sagna: [7/10]
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.

Mertesacker: [6/10]
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.

Koscielny: [6.5/10]
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.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Only managed twenty-five minutes before a head injury forced him off, but he made no errors, and got forward on many occasions.

Ramsey: [6.5/10]
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.

Wilshere: [6.5/10]
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.

Rosicky: [6/10]
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.

Walcott: [6/10]
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.

Giroud: [7.5/10]
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.


Jenkinson: [6.5/10]
Didn’t do much wrong defensively, but perhaps could have got forward a little more often. Didn’t play a big role.

Cazorla: [6.5/10]
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.

Podolski: [N/A]

Spend Some…

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!

Image: Arsenal

  • The BearMan

    Every other manager in the Premiership sort to strengthen their squad apart from the “great one” who did the opposite.

    It stands to reason, he has been to long in the game???

    • TheClockEnd

      Maybe. We’ll know for sure on September 2nd I guess.

  • indian gooner

    As long as AW is in the helm, nothing will change with this club.I feel sorry to see the club go down like this.If this continues, we can be sure of not even progressing to the CL quals and ending up somewhere like liverpool…The fans are to be blamed since they have just accepted this situation without a fight.The board and manager are gutless losers,but the fans too are hand in glove with this.

    • TheClockEnd

      Today, as well as the transfer window so far, has been shameful from Wenger. But I’m not a fan of writing him off whilst he still has 10~ days to set it right. I might be made to look silly.

  • Family Enclosure Man

    I think you are harsh on Rosicky: from where I was sitting, he was a constant source of inventiveness and danger in the second half: in fact, he was the ONLY source of inventiveness and danger in the second half.

    The one thing above all others that we absolutely could not afford from this match was an injury or suspension to a centre-half:who on earth will now partner Mertesacker against Fulham? Sagna, I suppose if he is fit, but (a) will he be fit after that horrendous landing on his neck at the end? And (b) if he is fit, then will Gibbs be OK to play left-back, because if not somebody has to cover that position. At this rate we’re going to end up playing Cazorla at CB.

    Am seriously worried about Fenerbahce now…

    • TheClockEnd

      You have a point, but with two one-on-ones missed, its difficult to give him a praise-worthy rating. His passing was good in the second half, but his first half performance and poor finishing has to bring him down a notch IMO.

      Fenerbahce could be really, really ugly. Arsene needs to spend before then, and spend well.

  • Disillusioned gooner

    Typical we have no depth, the team needs new players obvious to
    Everyone looking in. Wenger is delusional. Gazidis needs to get some
    Balls and order Wenger to spend some effing money.

    • TheClockEnd

      Yep. Around ten days left of this transfer window now, and signings are so, so badly needed. No depth, and no true belief in the current set of payers we have,

      Arsene has approached this season in the worst way possible. Let’s hope he puts it right before it’s too late.

  • Paul N

    This match was about the ref. Instead of giving it to the ref the support turned on the manager. Even if players were signed that bogus pen and yellow would’ve still been a turning point.

    The team was not great but ok but I still saw us winning the match 11v 11. It was actually 11 v 12.

    • BaZZe

      Completley agree!

    • TheClockEnd

      You DO have a point. As I mentioned in the post above, the referee was an absolute shambles, and of Conference League quality.

      However, our poor performance was blindingly obvious. Losing 3-1 at home against last season’s relegaton battlers is NO way to begin your season, especially when you haven’t spent a penny of the £70M+ “War Chest” you have boasted about all Summer.

      Why was Agbonlahor allowed to skip past our midfield/defence like he did on both occasions? Why couldn’t we finish our host of chances? Why didn’t we create more chances? It was all due to sloppy, unconfident play from dissillusioned, not-so-great players.

      The team, and the fans deserve a better effort from the club, regardless of how terrible the referee was.

      • Paul N

        These cries for players are opportunistic. Had we won the game no one would be shouting that at the manager.

        Any team can play poorly but we were not as poor as you are making it seem. Playing poorly does not suggest that the players are not good. That is knee jerk business.

      • TheClockEnd

        With just a few days left before the transfer windows, and with just one unknown signing on the books, the opportunity to cry for players is indeed now.

        This loss only compounds the issue. We all knew players were needed yesterday,and last week, and two months ago. This isn’t knee jerk, as the cries have been ringing out for months, not minutes.

    • Mohamed

      Agree on the ref being hopeless, but have to disagree on us winning bit , between our goal in the fifth minute until Villa’s second ‘penalty’ we didn’t create much at all, in fact I can only think of Rosicky, skying one during that time. Villa to me looked a lot more fitter and sharper then us overall, and had that ‘penalty’ not been given I think we probably would have only gotten a draw.

      • TheClockEnd

        Agreed Mohamed. We lacked creativity, and we were vulnerable to attack from start to finish.

    • pedro

      sorry mate but we’ve known the refs aren’t on our side for a long time now. we’re not one of those teams. we need a team that can go out on the pitch and put another one or two in after we go one up.

      this is what shits me about the way the club is run… we will get no fergie time, no home ground penalties (the opposite in fact), we will get thumped in tackles by talentless teams AND our team is not good enough to win the CL or PL yet we act as if we’re competitors.

      we need to understand the competition we’re in. i get the philosophy, i’ve a fucking degree in philosophy but a philosophy is a failure if it can’t adapt to reality.

      • TheClockEnd

        It’s true, referee’s have never been on our side. Look, as far as I can see, Wenger has failed so far this Summer. However, he has time to set it right.

        Let’s see if he does. If he doesn’t, perhaps it’s time, because this isn’t working.

  • nick

    when we had RVP we only needed a defence. we now need a defence and a RVP.

    • TheClockEnd

      Paul, that name is banned on this Blog! But you’re 100% right. It’s sad really.

  • Mohamed

    I’m not sure about the Ramsey DM bit of your post, most us assume he was the designated DM, but looking at this game and the Napoli game where he and Jack played together, it seems as if neither player has been given the job of a DM, rather as both Jack and Aaron seem to have good engines on them, it seems as if Wenger is happy for both of them to play their natural game and the provide cover on defence when needed.

    • TheClockEnd

      Well, they both certainly played alongside eachother in that sense. However, it’s quite clear to see that Ramsey was given a more defensive role, whilst Wilshere was encouraged to move the ball forward.

      Arsenal have re-invented the wheel when it comes to defensive midfielders (which isn’t working). Arteta isn’t a typical DM when he plays, although that is his ‘role’. Ramsey was definitely the Arteta boot-filler today, but he understandably didn’t do a great job of it.

  • arthur

    He can’t buy players for the CL qualifiers, too late and Kos and Carzola are suspended. If some players don’t recover fro today’s injuries we are going to be lucky to have 11 first team players never mind any subs.

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