ARSENAL – A GOOD POINT ONLY IF WE BEAT UNITED
Aston Villa 0 – 0 Arsenal
I was at Villa Park as Arsenal and Aston Villa fought out an entertaining draw during Wednesday night’s Premier League encounter. Arsenal had brought a strong travelling support who were in full voice as usual. Arsenal lined-up as expected:
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
Villa started the brighter of the two sides and Young was giving Clichy all kinds of problems down the right, with several dangerous crosses well dealt with by Gallas and Vermaelen. But in defense of Gael, he was given absolutely no support from Arshvin for the first 30 minutes. Our little Russian looked like he had no interest in honoring is defensive duties and Arsene switched him and Rosicky for the last 10 minutes of the first half to give Clichy some cover.
The first chance of the game fell to Agbonlahor when he turned Gallas in the area and got a shot off, but Almunia got down well to tip wide. Arsenal went up the opposite end and Dunne had to deflect Eduardo’s shot out for a corner. Denilson then went one step closer when his left foot drive was well saved by Freidel. It was truly end-to-end stuff. Heskey and Agbonlahor were given Arsenal’s defense plenty of problems and were holding the ball up well. Ashley Young then went close with a 25 yard free-kick which narrowly missed the top corner. Villa were having the better of the first half now and Downing missed a great chance to open the scoring when he blazed over from 10 yards when unmarked at the far post.
Shortly after that chance Arsenal’s injury curse struck once more when Thomas Vermaelen was forced off with a suspected fractured fibula. and was replaced by Sol Campbell. Sickening news for The Gunners. Couldn’t have come at a worse time and now the pressure will be on for Arsene Wenger to find a replacement if it is confirmed as a long-term injury. Campbell was given a tremendous reception by the Arsenal fans who sang ‘Sol’s a Gooner…’ and ‘double, double, double, Sol Campbell has won the double….’ all afternoon.
Then came the best moment of match so far when Fabregas went on a mazy run evading several Villa challenges, he struck a low effort from the edge of the box but the ball struck the foot of the post. What a goal that would have been! Rosicky had a chance from the rebound but Arshavin got in his way and the chance was lost. 0-0 at half time. Disappointing first half performance really. We didn’t play with any real fluency and at times we struggled to hold on to the ball in Villa’s half.
Arsenal started well in the second half and Freidel did well to block a Fabregas effort. Villa responded with a chance of their own and Downing will feel he should have done better when he headed wide from 2 yards after another Young cross. Injury number two for Arsenal, this time Eduardo went off with a hamstring problem. Nicklas Bendtner came on and immediately made his presence felt by getting stuck in to Villa centre backs Dunne and Collins. Big Nik began to win his headers and hold the ball up far more effectively than Eduardo did, understandably given the size difference between the two!
Arsenal were definitely the better side in the second half and were the only team who looked like scoring during open play. Villa’s only threat came unsurprisingly from set pieces. Andrei Arshavin burst into life with an amazing run from the left, cutting in and skipping past 3 or 4 defenders. He managed to get a shot off from inside the area but Freidel did well to block. The rebound again fell to Rosicky who took a touch and smashed it against the underside of the bar and the ball bounced to safety. Unbelievable. Maybe he should have done better. The final chance of the match fell to Sol Campbell in the dying minutes when he tried to scramble home from a corner but his effort was blocked and the game ended 0-0.
A really enjoyable draw, although the 2hrs it took just to get on the motorway was less than enjoyable. Why do road maintenance when thousands of football fans will be using the motorway? It was down to 1 lane on the M6, crazy.
Anyway, back to the game. I thought we looked solid enough at the back, Gallas was immense and Sol did really well when he came on. He did look a bit tired by the end and i doubt he will be able to play 3 full games in 10 days. So unfortunately we might be seeing Silvestre coming in for one of the games against United and Chelsea! Cesc was Cesc, and Ramsey did well i though..always full of running. But Denilson had a shocker….again. I am really not picking on him, its a simple fact that he was constantly giving the ball away, losing possession, falling over under the slightest pressure, mis-controlling, losing runners, the lot. The sooner Song is back the better, but i fear Arsene will still persist with Denilson and play him, Cesc and Song together. Keep Ramsey in, he has more talent in his left bollock than Denilson has in his entire body.
Arshavin was in and out of the game, one minute he didn’t look interest, rarely tracked back to help out the defense. Then he explodes into life and goes on an amazing run. Just get him on the ball more and we are laughing. I have to say once Bendtner came on we looked far more dangerous. This is nothing against Eduardo, but he had little joy against the powerful Villa centre backs, but Big Nik bossed them when he came on. He might not be the most elegant of strikers but his power and size will be a useful weapon in the coming games.
A draw isn’t the end of the world, but it just means that if we are to keep up our title hopes we need to beat Man Utd on Sunday. If we don’t, then we will HAVE to beat Chelsea away the following Sunday to have any chance.
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