A great result for Arsenal but Villa deserved a point

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Arsenal held on for an important 2-1 away victory over Aston Villa despite a gallant second-half display from the home side.

Both sides started the contest brightly but it was Villa who scored the opener on 14 minutes after John Carew’s cross was twice deflected through to Craig Gardner who finished cooly from around nine yards out. Arsenal responded soon after through Mathieu Flamini, who hammered home from the edge of the area on 24 minutes after wonderful lead up work by the two Emmanuel’s Adebayor and Eboue, and went ahead soon after when Adebayor headed home Bacary Sagna’s hanging cross. Aston Villa upped the ante after the break and had Arsenal on the back foot for most of the second half, but the closest they came to a goal was when Carew’s header struck the bar as Arsene Wenger’s side held on for a valuable win.

The headline says it all, really. Arsenal were untouchable at times in the first half but at the end of the day, they probably got two more points than they deserved. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. These are exactly the type of games that champion sides win and Wenger’s side will take great heart from their ability to scrap out a win in awful weather against one of the in-form sides in the league. With Chelsea and Liverpool both winning and Manchester United likely to shoot holes in Fulham later today, three points ensured that Arsenal kept their little lead at the top over the rest.

The two Emmanuel’s celebrate Adebayor’s goalI was surprised to see both Alexander Hleb and Gael Clichy pass late fitness tests and feature in the starting team, while Lassana Diarra partnered Flamini in the centre of the pitch. I thought the Frenchman did quite well. He has a little bit of a habit of taking too many touches on the ball and while he moves well and rarely got caught out in the first half, he lost possession a little bit too often when Arsenal were under pressure in the second. Hopefully Wenger can sort that out with Diarra because he looks a sensational prospect. Just on the manager, he spoke after the match of how delighted he was with the result and in particular, his side’s ability to come back from a goal down without losing their confidence.

“When you have a set-back the way the team responds can have a big impact on the season. The way we played showed that it did not bother us. It did not kill the confidence in the side.”

A lot of people have been talking about Alexander Hleb’s contribution as the crucial one in Saturday’s match, but in my eyes it was Flamini and William Gallas who stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. Gallas for his ability to lead the defence to one of their best defensive performances of the season and Flamini for so comfortably slipping into the attacking midfield role vacated by Cesc Fabregas’ absence and grabbing a goal to boot. A better utility player you will struggle to find anywhere in the world at the moment, and he and Gallas were the main reason why Arsenal were able to ensure they went home with no less than the three points.

Adebayor and Flamini celebrate the Frenchman’s belterRespect for Flamini

I really relate to Flamini as a player and that is why I have always had so much respect for him. I’m no mug when it comes to football, but like Flamini I’m a short, scruffy-haired, sometimes unpolished looking midfielder and I have to say it’s something of an inspiration to see a player like him having such success this season. Let’s hope he can keep it up because he’s fast becoming one of Arsenal’s most important players. Another one of those players that has lifted since last season is Flamini’s celebration partner Adebayor and he had some lovely things to say about the Arsenal squad.

“Am I worried about our strength in depth? No, no, no. We have a lot of good players, a lot of talented players in the squad and we all trust each other.”

It’s very good to hear, especially considering Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard questioned the club’s depth just a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to enjoy watching him being proved wrong. You can see in the little things that happen on the field that there are no egos in the side and it’s wonderful to watch. It might be a pat on the back after an poor miss, a high-five after some good defensive work or indeed, the sheer delight the young team visibly show when they score goals. Great stuff.

That’s about it for today. Just before I go I wanted to give another fellow Australian Arsenal blogger, Third Gen, some assistance in solving the Mathieu Flamini ‘Katita’ mystery? Those of you who saw that Villa game will know when Flamini scored he lifted his shirt to reveal the message ‘Katita’, but noone has the foggiest what it means. I know there’s a couple of French readers who enjoy the blog so if you’re one of them and you know what Flamini’s on about then please let us know. Personally, I think it’s probably just some girl he’s got the hots for and if it is, then good luck to him. If I was a girl, I wouldn’t turn him down.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal-Villa or the ‘Katita’ mystery by leaving a comment.


37 thoughts on “A great result for Arsenal but Villa deserved a point

  1. Great result. The first half was top class. The second half I agree we didn’t play well. It is impossible to play fantastic football through out the competition but we defended well. The only disappointing thing is that we didn’t have an answer when A.Villa closed all spaces in second half they didn’t allow us to pass the ball I can see other teams using those tactics against us. Once certain tactic works against Arsenal other teams tend to copy the same. I think M. O’Neal found the formula on how to play Arsenal. Wenger needs to work on plan B when tactics change specially when our most creative players (Hleb Rosicky) were out in the second half. I see no harm in resorting to long ball and mixing it up a bit when all spaces are closed. As I mentioned before on this blog we need to score more headers and long range shots like Flamini’s goal.

  2. Arsenal are a joy to watch, thought we could get the equaliser though in the second half. At least we can hold our heads up high, even in defeat…..and at least you keep the Manure of the summit…hope you go all the way…

  3. Villa fan here. I was at the game and I just want to say that Arsenal were awesome in the first half on Saturday. We gave them a run for their money in the second half but we just couldn’t live with their first half display. The best football I have seen this season it was an absolute pleasure to watch.

    Good luck for the rest of the season. Any team that plays football like that deserves to win the league and I hope you do.

  4. Good to hear from a couple of Aston Villa fans again – O’Neill has assembled an excellent side. Carew is the standout, but Young and Barry as well as the defence are all top notch.

    le gunner – I don’t feel that Villa figured us out. They played well in the second half but I really think Wenger’s plan was to play on the break a little more. It didn’t exactly work, and there are going to be games where fighting is more important than slick passing, and I thought we passed the test. Not too worried about the second half. Great result!

  5. Thanks for your honest review, it’s a pleasure to watch your team. We (Villa) are very much a work in progress but I do think we’re getting there, with MON at the helm.
    Good luck and I hope you win the title (assuming of course that we won’t!).

  6. No worries, appreciate the compliments. I think you’re looking good for a top six spot. There’s still a mentality amongst the big four (Liverpool maybe excluded) that when a smaller side comes to play they will beat them. If sides like Villa and Blackburn, as well as City can ignore that mentality and get arrogant, they will get into the Champions League positions sooner rather than later. The talent is there in the Villa starting XI to qualify for the Champions League – just need the right attitude.

  7. That’s a good assesment of the mindest. I know, for example, when we play ManUre it’s (from me included) a certain defeat before we kick off. You get to the point where you don’t want to watch yet another defeat to them, and have the “pleasure” of their fans wrecking the place.

  8. I guess that’s right. I can’t see how Villa lost 4-1 to them but I guess Manchester United just have that power of some teams. God, how I dislike them so.

  9. Has anyone else realised that we now have 3 times the amount of points than Spurs, 36 to 12, and we’ve played one game less! Those pundits and detractors who said they’d be above us this season should formally apologise!

  10. We were doing ok, then had a mad fifteen minutes, and it was all over. The tide must turn eventually. I want to see the smug smiles and taunts wiped off their faces (in the home end of course) at Villa Park.

  11. Villa deserved a point? How is that? Isn’t the whole point of football games to put the ball in the net more times than your opponent? Since when did a team that fails to score as often as its adversary (with no wrong refereeing decisions or opponents’ cheating) deserve to draw the match? If Villa failed to score twice it was either because Arsenal’s defence was better than Villa’s or because Villa’s attack was poorer than Arsenal’s – or both. The reality is that Aston Villa only scored once despite conceding twice – that means they deserve nothing.

  12. It’s a fair point, but me feeling they deserved a point was down to the quality of their second half performance. You can break football down the way that you have and in that way you’re dead right, but in my opinion there’s more to it that just putting the ball in the net. It’s all about perspective, I guess.

  13. Would we still be saying they deserved a point if it was Man Utd that nearly resorted to kicking us off the park in the second half. They lost because they missed the chances they did have. Like we have often squandered in the past. 98% pass completetion rate and movement is what killed them in the first half…when all the goals were scored…

    The defence was a worry in the 2nd half but it still held firm…. it was a bit like blackburn playing us a times… still its goals that count…..

    if you cant play hem off the park hack em and long balls played with knock downs to half chances is whats wrong with english footballer time they learnt ….

  14. I don’t think Villa hacked us off the park at all. This was nothing like Blackburn, in my opinion. Villa played good football and apart from Carew’s stupid tackle there wasn’t too much wrong going on. Our defence looked strong, no question, it was just a little worrying to see most players hitting the ball long to Adebayor in the second half. It was such a consistent feature that I feel Wenger may have had something to do with it, but either way, it didn’t work. It’s funny because I’m having to back Villa here in these comments and I’m an Arsenal supporter. I guess that’s life.

  15. I think Villa deserved a point but i’m glad that we collected all 3. It is really good to hear opposition fans encouraging us and saying how well we played and wanting us to win the prem. Its times like this im proud to be a gunner. 5 points clear atm (hopefully Fulham can prevent Man Utd from gaining all 3 points). We play Newcastle on wednesday (hleb, Cesc, Rvp all out). However Newcastle are playing really rubbish right now, a perfect time for our passing to kill them.

  16. I posted on here earlier (as a villa fan)praising Arsenal for the quality of their football which was without doubt the best I have seen this season. I must however take exception to the comments about Villa ‘hacking’ you off the park. That quite simply did not happen as any right thinking ‘gooner’would testify, and the person who made those comments should withdraw them.

  17. I don’t think they should withdraw them, just justify them 🙂 They actually said ‘kicking’ and I said ‘hacking’ but I still don’t think they’re correct. Villa played good football and apart from Carew’s cheap tackle nothing much went on that I would call violent or thuggish.

  18. Villa had one header that hit the bar and two pea-rollers that went straight into Alumina’s hands.

    We had more shots; more on target; more corners, and totally out-played them until their took out the influential Hleb. On what basis did they deserve a draw?

  19. Hey Spanish Fry. I guess you got me to check out your blog…and I like it.

    Just a note on the long balls in the second half. That happened because Hleb was taken out. He and Cesc are the players who normally link defense and attack. Without them we couldn’t take it through the midfield. The other guys — Rosicky, Eboue, maybe Denilson — will need to step into that role but it will take them a bit of time to get their rhythm.

  20. Hullo everyone, marvelous game Arsenal-Villa was’nt it. Villa deserved a point? I beg to differ. Justice was done that way coz Carew fauled Hleb and should have got a red since he did it maliciously(he had no chance of retrieving a ball). Had Hleb stayed on, we would have done more damage as he was the creative midfielder. When he left all the creativity went out of the team allowing Villa to push us. We held on and won ugly which is what is required to even pretend to be a champion.

    Newcastle game will be harder than we realise coz they will be up for it and manager’s position depends on it. So, I’m happy we have Diarra and Flamini to scrap in the middle of the park but creativity upfront will also be needed. They are at home and we need also need a further cushion from the chasing pack.

  21. I know exactly what you mean when you say Aston Villa deserved something from the game. I also felt the same way after West Ham. On the other hand, I thought Arsenal beat on Liverpool, and only got a point, so overall – 36 points from a possible 42 is just about right.

  22. As an aside, and whilst some of you have lowered the tone and bandied allegations of our team about – would you like to know exactly why it was you played in our claret and blue at the weekend? It’s a touch of the kit-stealers (Wet Spam)…

  23. As a villa fan, I think that villa did deserve to get a point on sat but against the top sides you rarely get the results. Arsenal were immense in the 1st half, best team to watch in the league. They finished their chances in the 1st half which we didnt in the 2nd. Carew maybe should have seen red as hleb had to come off but we were dominating the half before that

  24. We have a Lots of injuries at moment no Hleb RVP,Fabregas and Diaby for the Newcastle game then we are losing Toure and Eboue in January for the African cup the squad is going to get a lot thinner.Hopefully Arsene will bring some replacemnets in january specially for Toure we can’t rely on Senderos. Wenger has been watching Moroccan dutch attacking midfielder Ibrahim Afellay from PSV. A sharp shooter with a fantastic touch.Very versatile he is similar to R.V.Persie.

  25. nufc will be too strong for the gooners fragile little fairies. they will be having nightmares 4 weeks about Barton and smithy

  26. Obafemi.The fragile fairies reserve beat the hell out of you in the league cup so you must be little daisies.

  27. Hahaha. That’s awesome! You should probably outline that you’re a Manchester United fan though, Ronaldo7, or people might think you’re bagging your own team. That’s what I thought about Bolton when they played at home to United though, and look what happened there…

  28. While Van Persie is injured, use Eduardo. Now, eduardo has hardly been used since his signing. now with rvp still out, eduardo needs game time.

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