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Villa & Arsenal: Mirrored moves, similarly poor.

Villa & Arsenal: Mirrored moves, similarly poor.

Arsenal played out a dour 0-0 draw that was flat and uninspired. It was a perfect storm of a poor game. Tiredness from a mid week CL game, a soaked pitch, lack of physical power in the midfield and general inconsistency that we’ve witnessed so much this season. Statistics would say the game was even. It was evenly bad. Villa didn’t play exceptionally well and neither were we exceptionally poor. 0-0 was a fair reflection of a game that never really flowed or moved into second gear. Also, I’ve never seen so many players sliding and stumbling (both Arsenal and Villa) in a match before.

Wenger decided to rotate the team. A decision that I am for since the first team required rest. Sagna, Wilshere and TV5 were swapped out for Jenkinson, Ramsey and Gibbs. None of them did exceptionally well and neither of them were really bad as well. Dull, boring, start-slip-stop-slip-stop-start-slip-slip-stop. It was that sort of game.


First Half

A completely soaked pitch more or less made the game highly unpredictable. Players were falling over and slipping. Villa pushed really high up denying Arsenal space for a good portion of the half before Arsenal began to find holes. Kosc had the best chance but scooped over from six yards as Giroud’s low cross somehow evaded 2 (falling) Villa defenders. You felt the game would be won or lost by someone slipping at this point. WS1 collected a ball but ended up slipping out of the box yielding a freekick that led to Villa putting the ball into the net. However, the call for offside was clear. It was a scrappy first half.


Our one touch football has been missing for a while and it didn’t help that players were first trying to stay upright on a slippery pitch.


Giroud ended up swapping with Podolski a plenty and the former had good touches that freed some of his team mates. Cazorla, Ramsey and Arteta was quickly denied space and couldn’t do much. We ended up pinging balls back to our defenders because Villa closed down our midfield almost instantly. Long balls were not accurate for both teams and frankly, the pitch conditions was really terrible. Both teams nearly scored or completely messed up in different situations due to that. Our one touch football has been missing for a while and it didn’t help that players were first trying to stay upright on a slippery pitch.


Second Half

Even worse followed. Players continually slipped in key positions. Either the team was tired, couldn’t cope with the pitch or just not interested – it was poor all round. We could hardly string things together. Out-muscled and pressed hard consistently. It was probably a combination of the above.

Ramsey showed frustration as early as the 50th minute. Cazorla had 2 on him continuously, he was either fouled or quickly clamped down on. Giroud, again, sulked after losing a tackle. This was jarringly a poor all round attitude from the team. They were more bothered about complaining and venting their frustration than they were about winning the game. We don’t need reasons or excuses, we need hard work and a 100% commitment for 90 mins. None was seen today.


We don’t need reasons or excuses, we need hard work and a 100% commitment for 90 mins. None was seen today.


Nevertheless, chances were made and none of the players could get on the end of them without slipping or sliding or crumpling down for some unknown reason. The shooting was poor, Ramsey missed 3 chances. Given that he had more freedom as Villa had their eyes on Cazorla, he didn’t do enough to justify his spot in the team. There was effort on his end but he seemed more concerned on not losing the ball that taking Cazorla’s role in creating through passes and the like. The fact he got into the box at the right times showed good running off the ball but his inability to convert will add on the fans’ frustration with his performance.

It would be unfair to Villa if they left without a point at least. They worked harder and showed more desire. They weren’t good but we were no better.


What Now

Well, the Arsenal we saw today is the Arsenal we’ve seen for quite a bit this season. Sometimes bright sometimes dead out and uninspired. We have a new core in this team and this new core are telling us that this is the first time they had to play 2 games a week. Our team depends heavily on these 3 and when they have a bad game, we have one as well. The truth is, we just have to suck it up and wait for these guys to settle and get battle hardened. You can tell that they were tired after the midweek win at Montpelier  Yes, that is not acceptable but what can you do when you bring a new core that have never had to play under such intensity? How long they adapt and gel will be the story of our season.


The truth is, we just have to suck it up and wait for the new guys to settle and get battle hardened.


On the bright side, our back 4 did fine. Defending from set pieces improved and Per and Kosc made the right moves today. WS1 was a steady influence at the back and was reliable when called on. Gibbs strayed too far forward at times and Podolski had one of those matches where he didn’t track back. The left side was exposed but the center backs recovered well.

Every time we don’t get 3 points, fans will talk about buying players. Most people often forget that there is a lag time of about 6-8 months before a player acclimatizes to the team and the league (if foreign). Whatever we buy in January will only be ready next season. Yes, better late than never but don’t pin the hopes of a current season on the January window unless we buy someone in the premiership. It is sad that people talk about strikers. We need an engine during difficult periods. We didn’t dominate the midfield today and Villa had an easy time bundling us off the ball. A Vieira type player would do nicely and sorry Diaby only plays footie with the physios.

Some will say the rotation backfired. Maybe it did. Having Wilshere and Sagna in might have helped but are we going to run them to the ground? We need to rotate and in all fairness, this was the right game to rotate. The team showed inconsistency and it was not purely just the fault of Ramsey or Sagna. It was a flat performance from every player who had some measure of an offensive duty. Cazorla and Arteta need to be rested and I hope we do so before they land on the treatment table.

This game wasn’t as poor as the Norwich one but still fans were expecting more after a good week winning a derby and qualifying for the 13th consecutive time for the CL knockout stages.




GK W. Sczeney 7.5 Reliable when called out. Freekick against his slip was harsh. He dropped the ball quickly when slipping out of the box.
RB C. Jenkinson 6.5 Did well in his position but could have offered the extra bit that Sagna would deliver.
CB P. Mertesacker 7.5 Another solid game from the giant. Didn’t put a foot wrong. Covered for midfield defensive errors.
CB L. Koscielny 7 Tidy. Won good tackles and actually offered us an option going forward. Missed the best chance of the game.
LB K. Gibbs 6.5 Finally back but not his usual self. Offered a lot more going forward but either didn’t get back in time or was let down by Podolski.
CM M. Arteta 6 Didn’t do much of note. Had trouble holding the line with Villa pushing really high up the pitch.
CM A. Ramsey 6 Put in plenty of effort but his play wasn’t good enough. Slowed down our attacks in his attempts to not cede possession. The 3 chances he missed were difficult but he should have got them on target at least.
AM S. Cazorla 6 Kept quiet by being double teamed. Was either fouled or suppressed  Didn’t offer much and lost the ball quite often.
RF A. Chamberlain 6.5 Lively and was an option on the right. His crossing today was not good enough
CF O. Giroud 6.5 Is able to play under physical pressure and had good touches that released his team mates. Faded in the second half.
LF L. Podolski 6.5 Full of effort in the first half but faded really quickly in the second. 13 starts and he has never completed a game. Not ready for a 2 game a week schedule.
SUB Gervinho 6 Same old forehead. Poor touches. Created only 1 good chance that ended up with someone slipping.
SUB A. Arshavin 6 Came on late and couldn’t do much. Also had trouble on the slippery pitch. Story of the game.
SUB L. Coquelin 6 Came on really late to ensure we got a point at minimum. Fans would wonder why but our offensive players were dead out and it was better to get one rather than none.
Dave Junia

Dave Junia | administrator

Analyst. Cyclist. Photographer

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