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Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: Analysis & Player Ratings

Arsenal beat Aston Villa 3-2 after a second half comeback secured our passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup. Here’s a match report and player ratings.

Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa 2012

Arsenal beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Emirates after a second half comeback secured our passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup .

Wojciech Szczesny got a breather while the back line was boosted by the return of Francis Coquelin to the right back position. Tomas Rosicky was given another start while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain retained his place in the team.

Arsenal drew first blood through a tame effort from Aaron Ramsey that was easy pickings for Shay Given in goal. Thomas Vermaelen stung the experienced goalie’s hands from a sweetly drilled effort from a cushioned Robin van Persie pass. There was a nervy moment when Fabianski challenged Darren Bent for the ball but he missed both the ball and the forward.

Against the run of play, Aston Villa took the lead from a well executed training move that caught Arsenal on the back foot. After some intricate passing from a corner kick, Robbie Keane lobbed the ball into the 6-yard box and Richard Dunne rose the highest to head the ball home.

Rosicky had the chance to level the tie but his shot was a bit too cheeky for a keeper of Given’s caliber. Aston Villa compounded the home team’s misery late on when a swift counter attack saw Bent drill his shot past Fabianski at the second attempt after initially forcing a good save from the Pole.

The first half clearly belonged to the Villans but Arsene Wenger probably gave his players the hairdryer treatment and urged to step up their game. Arsenal began the second half as the brighter side and Per Mertesacker was denied his first goal in Arsenal colors when Stephen Ireland blocked his effort off the line.

Ramsey missed another glorious chance to bring Arsenal back in the game and the miss sent Thierry Henry to the turf. You can’t doubt Henry’s love and passion for this game. His reaction after Mertesacker’s miss against Swansea was definitely one for the cameras.

However, Ramsey atoned for that miss when he has hacked down by Dunne in the box. Up stepped van the Man to send Given the wrong way. A few minutes later, Arsenal leveled the contest courtesy of a freak goal by Theo Walcott.

In the buildup, Arsenal’s Usain Bolt made a fool of a defender before closing in on the goalie then a goal-mouth scramble saw the ball ricochet off the pacey winger and into the net to send the Emirates into raptures.

Arsenal’s 3rd goal and match clincher arrived when Laurent Koscielny made one of his slalom runs forward after a brilliant one-two with Alex Song. He was scythed down in the box by Darren Bent leaving the man with the whistle no choice. Van Persie stepped up again to smash in goal number 25 for the season.

The Gooners activated their party mode when Thierry Henry and Bacary Sagna entered the pitch in the dying moments. I also forgot to mention that Mikel Arteta played some part in today’s fixture after coming in for Rosicky.

Play Ratings:

Fabianski (6.5) raised my blood pressure with every back pass he received and didn’t really do enough to displace Szczesny as Arsenal’s Number One.

Coquelin (7.0) was really good with the ball at his feet and supported Theo Walcott well in attack.

Vermaelen (7.0) offered a lot in Arsenal’s attacks and was adept in his defensive duties.

Koscielny (8.0) continued his inspired form and made the assist for the match winning goal.

Mertesacker (7.5) has clearly grown in confidence but his first Arsenal goal still eludes him.

Song (8.0) showed more attacking initiative than Ramsey and Rosicky despite being Arsenal’s holding midfielder.

Ramsey (7) dwelt on the ball far too long but did well to win a penalty for his team.

Rosicky (6.5) lacked sharpness in attack but he made a few good passes.

The Ox (7.5) was a terrorist down the left and was never afraid to take on his opposite number.

Walcott (7.0) scored his first goal at the Emirates since August. He also showed some good dribbling skills to get past his opponents.

Van Persie (8.0) kept a cool head to beat Shay Given twice from the penalty spot. This goal machine can’t stop scoring

Arteta (7.0) steadied the ship in midfield when he came on.

Henry and Sagna didn’t play long enough to get ratings.

If you think Walcott’s goal was freaky, here’s a freaky fact for you. Aston Villa’s goal scorers (Dunne and Bent) offered Arsenal chances to come back into the game as they were also the two players who gave away the two penalties for the first and third goals.

After three disappointing defeats on the trot, the Gunners can look into Wednesday’s game against Bolton with a newly found confidence and optimism. The mere fact that the injured players are returning to full fitness is definitely a breath of fresh air.

Thanks to Gooner Daily for submitting this guest blog post.



  1. GunnerPete

    January 30, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Good report but we are not fooled into thinking that the 16 minutes of the second half will change anything. Our great club is now seen as the open door team ie; no opposition has to ever worry about AFC scoring because they will leave the door open at the same time.

    After watching the other cup match Sunderland & Boro I was stunned by the great performances of bor’s Bates & Robson and wondered why our boss finds it so hard to find UK talent. These two are miles better than anything the boss has brought in in the past 5 years and they would be paid for by selling many of the failuers he continues to pay big wages to.

  2. Sylvester

    January 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I wish gunners fans 2be of prayer to d club 2let dis period of failure&backward pass over.Pls,Baba more quality players.Gunners 4life

  3. Pingback: Arsenal’s amazing FA Cup comeback against Villa – BBC News | Arsenal Football Club Stuff

  4. Mark M

    January 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t quite agree with the Rosicky rating and the comments on his attacking play. Rosicky provided a number of excellent long range passes, he did put through one of the strikers on a one on one, and he had an urgency to his game that is quite lacking in Ramsey’s game. From yesterday’s performace, Rosicky should be given a contract extension.As a squad player, he has high quality which is almost at the same level as that of some the first xi regulars.

  5. Vml

    January 31, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Rosicky was nt good enough for you?? U must watch the game again… He was controlling the midfield.. Played a lot of good passes and through balls.. Was better than ramsey by miles… I dnt knw by what criteria you rate these players… Why is it so hard for u people to accept rosicky was better than many of our first team players…. For me he was better than rvp that day…

  6. valiant

    January 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    i sincerely agree with vml. that Rosicky’s effort escaped you eye is definitely appalling. i think he was the creative force in the midfield and his creative runs keeped the opponents in check.

  7. valiant

    January 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    i sincerely agree with vml. that Rosicky’s effort escaped you eye is definitely appalling. i think he was the creative force in the midfield and his creative runs kept the opponents in check.

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