The game on Saturday was not the best I have seen Arsenal play this season, 1-1 against Aston Villa. I would have been disappointed with that result had you asked me before the game, afterwards I think I will take the point. Villa are a team who are very hard to beat and we did struggle at times, 1 point is better than none!
To see the highlights click here.
Villa scored in the 28th minute through a Senderos own goal. Gallas lost Agbonlahor while trying to claim offside and the England U-21 striker put in a low cross which bounced off Senderos at the near post and past Almunia. It was disappointing and we did seem jaded to be honest. At points I though Gallas looked really lost and the same for Adebayor. Although in the opening 15 minutes we didn’t play badly, once Villa had taken the lead they played well, with very organised defence and made a lot of quick counter attacks utilising the height of Carew and Agbonlahor as well as the pace of Ashley Young.
Clichy looked quiet for much of the second half, he did his job but normally he does rampage up and down the flank, he looked a little subdued, whether that was because of last week or because Ashley Young was a handful I don’t know. In any case things were looking desperate as the second half went on. Theo had made some good moves in the first half, and played well on the right cutting in but little came of our attacks. Bendtner came on for a struggling Diaby and made some difference, but the bench looked sparse, Arseblog seems a little worried about this, and true, when I saw Gilberto and Denilson come on for Flamini and Senderos I did think it looked like a sign of a threadbare squad. In any case we kept pushing for the equaliser. As I counted down the minutes of extra time and the stadium emptied disgracefully(a very sad and annoying sight which shouldn’t be happening to a great and successful team like Arsenal), I became more and more nervous, there was still some hope, and in what must have been the last 10 seconds, just as the Villa fans started singing in celebration at their victory, Clichy put a deep cross into Adebayor at the back post who headed it down for Bendtner to control and finish from the edge of the 6-yard box.. The relief was incredible, everyone went crazy and it felt good to get something so so late out of a game which looked lost!!
“We had a hangover from last week definitely – you could see that in the first-half…I must say that I was impressed by Villa. Until the last minute they didn’t give us any space, or time on the ball and they are team who are very difficult to beat…I believe the point we gained today will have a big impact on the Premier League, and staying top helps. You know you go through a spell like that and I believe that the point gained can have vital importance.”
That point could indeed be crucial, now that we are sitting only one ahead of Man U in the table. This title race is one of the most tightly contested of recent years, it doesn’t make for easy watching!! Arsene makes a good point that even going through a bad spell we are still gaining some points, its good to see the likes of Bendtner and Theo getting the crucial goals when others aren’t playing so well, Gunnerblog picked up on that here.
One bad point that Wenger picked up on was the Villa fans singing songs about Eduardo which weren’t so nice. I heard them myself and really it was just sad. Wenger says:
“You expect better from people who come to football stadiums. It looks that intelligence and stupidity can have no limits. Unfortunately stupidity has won.”
There was some trouble between fans after the chants and several have been arrested, one Aston Villa fan is in hospital for head injuries after falling down steps according to the Telegraph.
We have to face Milan at the San Siro midweek now, the players will have too pick themselves up for this game, we are the underdogs, but that will suit us. Milan are masters of two-legged matches and we will have to aim for a goal, meaning they wll have to push forward and get two. That might give us more room to counter attack, but we shall see how Wenger plays it. Hopefully some of our injured players like Robin VP will be back, but that doesn’t look too promising at the moment. We shall have to wait and see.