Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa: Diaby delights ‘The Pig & Whistle’ faithful

I was sure something special was brewing on the night that Arsenal played Aston Villa.

So sure, in fact, that I organised a  host of Gooners and Gooners-to-be around to my house for dinner and drinks before heading off to the pub to watch the game. I was so convinced we would win the game, so convinced that it would be a great night that I wanted to share it with the people that matter, that understood what it meant to the team and the manager to win.

I wasn’t wrong.

After plenty of crackers, mini-pies, beer, scotch and champagne and an argument about the difference between using ‘five star’ versus ‘out of ten’ movie rating scales, it was time for the guys and girls to get decked out in our Arsenal gear. There were six shirts in all featuring the names of Walcott, Sagna, Djourou, Nasri and Bergkamp and a vintage ’93 home shirt worn by the lovely Kate as well as a lovely Arsenal scarf that did the rounds as the night wore on. Needless to say when you see the photo below, we looked bloody good.

With excitement in the air we headed to the ever-reliable Pig ‘n’ Whistle in town to set up base before the 11.30pm local time kick-off. There were a host of other Gooners at the pub when we arrived and with a Rangers game only halfway through we were asked to sit around one of the smaller monitors for the first-half. I felt a little disappointed, I must say, but we made the most of it anyway.

It was an explosive opening 15 minutes by our boys.

With Cesc Fabregas not risked from the start it was imperative that Abou Diaby made a good start and he did just that, turning wonderfully to set up Eduardo with a simple finish after just a minute. Alas, almost predictably given his current form, Eduardo scuffed his shot and Friedel saved.

Diaby appeared almost possessed in the opening part of the game and his performance prompted me to make a prophecy to Le Panda Bear.

“This is going to be the game,” I said, “Where Diaby turns the corner. Where he does something that will get everybody off his back. He is going to make a statement tonight.”

In truth in my slightly inebriated state it probably came out more like: “Diaby’s #$#@ing awesome and he’s gaaanna score like… a hat-trick man. Wanna beer? He’ll make a statement. Look at that fro and goatee combo maaan.”

Aside from talking up the awesomeness of Diaby, Song and Arshavin regular reader Darragh and I also spent much of the first half trying to point out everything good that Thomas Vermaelen did in the hope of convincing our friend Kate that Arsenal was worth watching because his manliness was enough of a drawcard. The aftermath suggests it worked: she has since asked me the best way to get hold of a Vermaelen shirt.

As the first half blew to and end I was feeling good. I thought the boys had put in a controlled display and made some good chances while restricting Aston Villa to not much. I also got the feeling that first goal was going to be crucial and would probably be scored by Diaby. He had seriously been that dominant.

Half-time meant a change in rooms as the Arsenal contingent shifted to the main area and enormous screen that came with it. There was a definite increase in atmosphere and enjoyment and quite wonderfully, with it came an increase in the general quality of Arsenal’s performance. Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri sparked into life – long before Cesc Fabregas came into the fray, mind you – while Vermaelen and Armand Traore in particular looked unbeatable at the back.

Fabregas then joined the party to cheers of hope from both the Emirates crowd and the pub folk at the Pig. His introduction just added to the intensity as Arshavin was denied by a fantastic save by Friedel and Eduardo had shot blocked off the line. There was also a bizarre moment when the ball seemed to have crossed the line from an Arsenal corner, only for replays to show that despite the best efforts of goal-sneak William Gallas, it was still a yard away.

Then the goal came when little Cesc won a free-kick on the area and nonchalantly slammed home a superb curling shot.

The pub went crazy. I went on a little run of solitude and slammed heads with another supporter running the other way before we both fell in a heap. I swear I had knocked his teeth out but he stressed that he was feeling OK and walked away with a slightly painful jaw for his troubles. The bartender nearby said that it was one of the funniest things he had ever seen.

A slightly more attractive group than usual...

At 1-0 I secretly felt that the game was over. Aston Villa had been comprehensively outplayed up to this point and our lead meant the counter-attacking style that the usually employ so effectively became useless. The ball was in our court, Cesc and Diaby were running the show and our defence continued to look as watertight as it has all season.

After a couple of more good chances Cesc scored a second goal to well and truly put the game to bed. Traore won the ball, floated a beautiful long ball to speedy substitute Walcott and he put it on a plate for the onrushing Cesc to fire home. I once again sought solitude in my celebrations by running to the back of the pub only return to hear from another of my friends that Cesc was injured.

“Damn,” I thought, “but a price worth paying.” In retrospect, my opinion has not changed.

Aaron Ramsey replaced our unhappy captain as cheers of “2-nil to the Arsenal!” rang out loud and clear from the pub.

We continued to look the better team and added the third and final goal when Diaby brought my prophecy to life. Villa should have got closer to the big man but his awkward legs took him past a couple of players and he curled home a beauty past an unsighted Friedel. Keep up that sort of form kid and you might just have a future around here.

At the ungodly hour of 1.30am the final whistle went, the game was over and the Pig was a sea of Gooners sharing delightful hugs. It didn’t surprise me to see the majority of the people race home soon after. It was a Monday morning after all and despite the public holiday a number of had to go to work later on.

Not Panda and I though.

Thrilled with the win and performance of our boys, we decided to end the night at the only place that was still open – McDonalds – eating cheeseburgers and marveling out our great captain, heralding the arrival of Diaby and wondering where it all went right.

We love you Arsenal, we do.

Have your say on Arsenal’s fantastic 3-0 win over Aston Villa by leaving a comment.



  1. So we want an experienced yet talented guy with some height. One who will fit into the long term of the club by being able to play with RVP or will be on the bench awhen RVP gets back without affecting our youngster.

    The perfect solution: Thierry Henry

    and I would even suggest Vieira again to cover in midfield

    Talk about a story that would give us the belief for the rest of the year! I think that would strike fear into the hearts of Man U and Chelsea as well as suiting our situation

  2. Great story! The Diaby-Song-Cesc midfield trio is looking very sweet indeed. It combines drive, technique, passing range, ball retention, force, height and a bit of pace which makes it lethal and unpredictable for opponents. Marking Cesc will no longer work because the “magnetically attracted” Diaby will be too compelled to attack.

  3. Ah, yes, my friend…I can just feel the atmosphere in that pub. Hear the roars of delight. Smell the beer.

    Glad you mentioned Traore because let’s face it, he was very very good. I love the way he just gets on with everything. No nonsense. Head down. Working working working. I almost hate to say it but I think he may be better than Clichy and Gibbs. He’s that good. He’s more defensive too, didn’t push up like the other two but that’s fine with me. I think we have enough attack minded players. But maybe he’s just being cautious – for now. Making that spot his own. Good on the lad for getting in there, doing a job and showing what he’s got. A couple more performances like that and he’s certainly going to be hard for Arsene to drop when Clichy’s fit.

  4. best comment ever Andy ❗

    then the letters are tall now in the input box here, wow ❗

    then I recognized that you write ‘dinner’ with two ‘n’, ugh, I wrote it wrong on a christmas present, damn, but my family don’t know much about English, so what ❓

    till tomorrow I hope and Diaby has to stay at this form with Faby out again…………

  5. Lol in all honesty i posted that on an old story then posted it here because i figured nobody would see it there hahaha. I was in a hurry so just did it.

    Great write up though. Being in the states this is the exact type of thing I miss so much about being out of the country. Sharing the passion of football isnt too easy out here… Usually just watch a stream in bed in the middle of the night. However theres a chance ill be in Australia when I study abroad next year. Ill have to stop by the pig n whistle for a game or two

  6. Andy,

    Tell Kate that the best way to get hold of a Vermaelen shirt is to grab it just above his shorts and pull it off over his head, best done in private though!

  7. i feel Denilson will become better than Diaby and becoming more dangerous.When he comes back it would be hard for Diaby to get his place.

  8. It is great to see nice performance from diaby. He will help us win something this year. Happy new year to all Arenal fans.

  9. Wanted: One excuse to travel up to Brisbane on an Arsenal matchday. Excuse need not be totally genuine, I am quite happy for a completely frivolous reason to drive/fly/walk the 1335 or so kilometres to enjoy the finer things in life; Scotch, Arsenal and more Scotch.

    Win the entirely winnable two games in hand and Chelsea lead by a mere point. If I’d have been offered this scenario at the start of the season let alone two weeks ago I’d have taken someone’s hand off. It’s great to be back in the race and for once the best ‘new signings’ will come from within; get our injured players fit and Chelski and the Mancs will be very nervous indeed. Great time to be a Gooner!

  10. Boring… Don’t you have anywhere else to do? Your story sucks Andy, why did you even made this blog? Why do you even have to tell us your stupid story?

  11. In another year’s time Diaby will become unplayable. The talent, the physique, the power and his magnetic attraction towards the oppositions goal will become a nightmare for opponents. I’ve never had any doubt about him. He is just fulfilling the talent he’s always had.

  12. Wish I had that much festivity going to the pub here in South Africa. One of my latest trips included a Man Utd fan who was inebriated after losing to Liverpool earlier in the afternoon. One of those “look straight at the screen and say nothing lest you press his button” afternoons…

    Opens an interesting discussion. Is it better to watch a game only with fellow supporters, or is it more wholesome taking the risk of having opposing fans together?

    I still remember the Liverpool Champions League QF where they beat us 4-2 (?) … full crowd of both Scousers and Gooners in the pub and the alternating cheers and gloating between both parties was fantastic…

  13. Andy,

    Top post!

    Yours and ‘holic’s over at have to be the top posts of the game over the Christmas period.

  14. ‘Also Cesc wouldn’t get into the Villa midfield. Milner and Petrov are too good together. You will see at the weekend.’

    The above is a comment that was left by an Aston Villa fan on Christmas eve. I’ve a feeling that this person was on the sherry whilst writing the comment. It’s the only explanation I can think of.

    Cesc Fabregas tore Aston Villa a new hole in their arse yesterday. His performance was breath-taking and he was only on the pitch for 25 minutes! Imagine if he played the whole 90, we’d probably have got into double figures.

    The game needed someone to grasp it by the scruff of the neck and the little Spaniard duly accepted the responsibility. It may have come at a cost, Fabregas limped off after scoring his second, but it was worth it because that was the best performance I’ve think I’ve ever seen in 25 minutes in my whole entire stinking existence.

    It was Roy of the Rovers stuff. It was amazing. It was a real captains performance.

    When he came on Cesc seemed to raise the performance of everyone yesterday. The players and the stadium was lifted. I only wish some of that would rub off on Eduardo.

    It seems to me that the little Crozillian is suffering from a major lack of confidence at the moment. I’d have backed my house, my cat, my car and my lucky pants on Eduardo scoring that early chance yesterday. He did everything but score. The turn to create the chance was immense but his finish let him down. I’m sure he did the same against Hull City last week too.

    I really feel for him at the moment and want him to do well so badly. After what he has been through he deserves a bit of luck. We need to stick by him because he will come good again. He is to good a player not too.

    Suffering an injury like he did is bound have an effect. It would on anyone. We need to be patient with Eduardo and let him feel he way back into regular football. In my opinion he is the best finisher in the Premiership and that is an awesome weapon to have.

    I won’t change my mind on a fully-fit and confident Eduardo being able to score 15-20 league goals a season for us. Let’s give him time and support him through this spell.

    What about Diaby? Let’s hope he gets a bit of luck too. He is hitting a real peak of form at the moment and is showing that he is becoming a vital player for Arsenal. He needs a bit of luck because the poor bastard has suffered injuries at the worst times.

    The Frenchman can dominate the midfield and until our little skipper came on was easily the best player on the park. He made mincemeat of Petrov and Milner. If he can continue this streak then we won’t lose many battles in the centre of the park.

    As for Aston Villa, they will be battling for the Champions League places at the end of the season. They are a good side but I think with the likes of Heskey and Carew in the team they tend to use the ‘direct hoof’ quite a lot. Gallas and Vermaelen were brilliant coping with the aerial threat Villa bombarded us with. They deserve a lot of credit for that because it’s something we have been criticized for not being able to deal with.

    I fancied us to give Villa a good hiding yesterday and that we duly did. My only gripe is that I had a bet on Diaby being first goal scorer, not last, and I had a little sneaky bet on 3-1. I was going to do 3-0 but changed my mind at the last minute. What a twat eh?

  15. The Little man came on to give the other 21 players on the field a quick masterclass of how football should be played – I hope the learned!
    What a genius!

  16. I have never enjoyed a spirited performance from Cses, if he dies for the team like that, then the league is ours for the taking. Diaby suprises me, he’s got talent and on a good day he is superb on a bad day you want to sell him, but if he can be this good in 8/10 games man he is a champion

  17. Thanks for all the kind comments people, I can’t really reply to them all. But I will answer a few 🙂

    @ Nonny Mouse – Traore was excellent on Sunday. We knew his pace was going to help us before the game but it was his confidence and tackling that really impressed. He looked very solid and that’s probably only the first time this season I can say that.

    @ Johno – I’ll let Kate know. I’m not sure Darragh would be happy to hear that though…

    @ White Ox – You would be welcome ANY time. Let me know if you ever get up here and we can meet up for a drink even if there’s no game. Brisbane meets are getting better and better, I can tell you right now.

    @ Erichero – Sometimes the best meets are with opposition supporters but I must say, sometimes it’s just great being with your own people. The recent Spurs game where we won 3-0 sounds very similar to the Liverpool 4-2 one that you described, everybody was going nuts in the pub and Le Panda must have got covered in at least three pints when we scored the first two goals. Watching footy with the right people in a pub really is brilliant, no matter where you are in the world.

    @ jar0909 – Thanks mate. I went for something different and I think it was well received. I read Goonerholic’s too – his references to Wall*E were hilarious.

  18. @Andy, you rascal how many women are in your group there in the picture? You guys look really good!

    Anyways, the another interesting thing I saw was the hunger in Cesc when he came in. Have you seen the look? I believe missing a game or two has burned some fire up his arse. Regardless, our players did not allow Villa to dictate the game which was a very pleasant surprise. Traore looked very confident, but I saw that even against Torres v Liverpool. He didn’t panic and looked really composed.

  19. I agree with Binocular. The jury is still out on Diaby for me. I want to see him be decisive and the increase in confidence can get him there…. We’ll see where he goes from here

  20. The is an accurate recollection of events.

    @WhiteOx – plenty of scotch drank on that night!!

    The Verminator.

    @Andy – Kate reminded me last night about your version of the Verminator….i.e The Worminator.

  21. the enigma that is vassiriki abou diaby,occasionally producing moments of genius but too often on the periphery of the game.he posseses all the attributes to be a top player but the question is how much does he want it????

  22. @ Darragh – Ah, The Worminator. Slightly worse in the air but just as much passion for the game.

    @ georgetown – Fair comments although I think in the last three games he has been far less on the periphery and much more involved throughout the 90 minutes. That’s why so many people have been impressed with him. Hopefully he can stay fit and focused and keep it up.

  23. “Look at the Fro and Goatee combo maaaaan” was by far the most quotable line from this blog. Loving it

  24. Why do you all talk so much? You know that Arsenal will never win a trophy this season… Andrew you suck!

  25. Well @Chelsea Boy, one could questions why you’re visiting an Arsenal Blog simply to troll people, leaving fairly obtuse observations (and predictable, coming from a Chelsea supporter).

    Nothing better to do, I guess?

    If there is one trophy I hope Arsenal win this season, it is the one where they get to put Didier Drogba’s head on a pike outside the Emirates after Vermaelan decapitates him with a 40 yard screamer that somehow deflects into the top corner of the Chelsea goal, bursts through the net and mows down several annoying Stamford Bridge “faithful” (of which hopefully Chelsea Boy is one of) causing severe internal injuries.

  26. Hi Andy,
    i liked this post of yours very much. There was something different in it. it was not only about what happened on pitch but also abt how the gooners enjoyed a great win.
    This is one of ur memorable posts till date 🙂

  27. chelsea sucks, they couldnt even beat birmingham, and the only way they beat fulham was with the help of an own goal.

  28. Thanks guys. I like to do this sort of post every once in a while. I think it brings the blog to life a bit and shows that it’s not just about the internet, but about real people and places.

  29. Ha ha Great story Andy! And it was a great game and performance from the Gunners led by Captain Fantastic Fabregas. Was proud to be Gunner on that night and let’s do it again against Pompey tonight!!

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