Arsenal 3 – 2 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

If you carefully select portions of this game you can make a video highlighting many of Arsenal’s major problems. With another selection you could also show the reasons that make the Gunners such a great team to watch and support. It was a classic Cup tie and one that will remain in fans’ memories for years to come if it can spark a run of form.

The first half effort was disappointing, to put it mildly. Arsenal had a lot of possession but most of the passing was safe and slow as the ball was rotated in the area 15 yards either side of the centre line. Van Persie was isolated, the winger’s stayed wide and rarely received the ball in space, the midfielders were too cautious, as were the full-backs.

Vermaelen tested Given with a thunderous strike early on. Rosicky then did well to give Walcott a chance to run at goal. Theo did well to ride a challenge but then blazed over when a moment of composure was vital.

Just after the half-hour Villa took the lead from a soft, soft goal. The corner was taken short. Ramsey did well to charge out but had not support at all. He was easily bypassed as Villa played a one-two around him. Keane was able to loft the ball towards the back post where Dunne rose highest to head home. Arsenal’s defensive organization for the corner was poor. The man-marking in the box didn’t work either.

After the goal the Gunners raised the tempo to an extent. Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain had pops from distance that were spilled by Given. Ramsey forced a save from a tight angle. But the sucker punch came just before the half-time whistle.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s deep cross was easily cleared. Koscielny Vermaelen made the mistake of getting sucked deep into the Villa half. He had to chase back and was always a yard or two behind, first Keane then Bent. When Keane received the ball in acres of space around the centre-circle, he only had Bent upfront while Arsenal had Coquelin, Song, and AOC back defending. All three didn’t really know how to defend such a situation as Ireland was able to receive the ball in space before feeding the run of Bent. The striker’s initial shot was parried by Fabianski but he fired home from a narrow angle.

The second half was a completely different story. Arsenal raised the intensity significantly. The tackles were more purposeful. Midfielders made a number of forward runs. This offered Theo the chance to move around in dangerous areas.

The first of three goals in seven minutes came after Ramsey made a strong tackle just around the halfway line. Song powered forward and pierced the ball through a crowded space for Ramsey to run onto. The Welshman might not have done much with it as it was too close to the Keeper but Dunne lunged in and gifted a penalty. Terrible defending, clever from Ramsey, incisive from Song. Van Persie, of course, put it perfectly in the corner with Given diving the wrong way.

A couple of minutes later it was Theo’s turn to celebrate. Rosicky moved up the pitch and into a wide area. This allowed Walcott the chance to move inside. Little Mozart played a soft ball in behind. Theo skinned Warnock with pace and a couple of deft touches. He looked up, and not seeing any meaningful options he tried a cheeky poke past Given at the near post. It almost worked at the Keeper didn’t know what hit him. The ball only staying out after hitting the underside of his outstretched hand. It was still bouncing in a dangerous area a yard out of goal. Hutton tried a hasty clearance that bounced in off Walcott. In this case it must be said the winger made his own luck and deserved the goal.

The third goal again came from a tackle, this time by Oxlade-Chamberlain, again around the centre-circle. Koscielny received it and played a neat one-two with Song while bursting forward. The defender charged into the box only to be bundled over by a clumsy tackle from the retreating Darren Bent. RvP was coolness personified.

After the third goal Arsenal eased off. This led to some nervy moments, mostly from set-pieces but the Gunners did enough to keep the ball out. They also had some half chances at the other end but Given was able to keep the ball out of his net.

It was a rousing comeback but Wenger must find a way to keep his team from digging such holes for themselves in the first place.

Individual Performances:

Fabianski: Had a couple of shaky moments in the first half. Wasn’t at fault for the first goal. Made a good initial save but should have been quicker to react to the second strike. He’s made tough double saves in the past. I thought in this case he probably wasn’t expecting it to come back. Caught the ball well in the final 15-20 minutes.

Coquelin: Was enthusiastic but went to ground a bit too often for my liking. Conceded a free-kick or two and was caught out of position at times. Did well to push forward but wasn’t able to produce the cross at the end. Clearly not as effective as he is when playing in midfield but that should not be seen as a major negative.

Mertesacker: Keane got in behind him to win the corner for the first goal. He was probably marking Bent so can’t be faulted for the dismal way the corner was defended. Was in the box at the other end for the second so no blame there either. Did win some crucial headers. Also forced a goal-line clearance from a corner.

Koscielny: Was he marking Dunne for the first goal? Got sucked too high up the pitch for the second goal. Had a fairly good defensive game otherwise. Also made a telling contribution for Arsenal’s winner.

Vermaelen: I wasn’t able to see who he was marking for the first goal. No blame for the second. Got sucked too high up the pitch for the second goal. Kept the left pretty solid as Villa generated near to nothing from that side.

The back five were not very comfortable on set-pieces as Villa had some well-practised routines. Apart from that it was good work from the defenders. The counter-attack was a poor one to concede but that’s down to problems with decision making by a number of players.

Song: Played the passes that put Ramsey and Koscielny in positions where they could win the penalties, the first, a through-ball, was especially delectable. Also had a good game defensively, did a lot of chasing, was composed on the ball, was a tad slow with his passing in the first half. Could have done better to track Bent’s run for the second goal.

Ramsey: Had a dull first half with only one or two noteworthy moments. Got into dangerous positions in the second half. Won the penalty, could have done better with his shot on goal, linked play well. Work rate was good as ever.

Rosicky: Was probably the only bright spot in the first half. Most of his touches were classy. Played a number of quality passes. The only negative was that he was looking to pick Van Persie too often in the first half and didn’t bring the wide players into the game effectively. Also could have done better when he got into shooting positions more than once.

It’s hard to judge whether the midfield was under tactical instructions to keep it safe early on or it was just a sluggish effort. There was a lot more urgency in the second half, they got into forward areas and in between the lines more often, thus helping the forward players make a greater impact.

Walcott: Was trying hard in the first half but lacked composure at key moments. Had better support in the second half and was troubled Warnock on numerous occasions. Deserved his goal for the effort.

RvP: Was isolated and rather wasted in the first half. Took his penalties well but wasn’t that involved in the build-up to any of the goals, which is interesting and encouraging as that shows others can do it as well. Dropped deep and shared the load of the midfield on a number of occasions.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Made a number of good runs on the ball but wasn’t able to produce much when it got crowded around the box. Needs a lot of work on his decision making as he repeatedly conceded possession by running into defenders. Essentially, he still comes across as a very good individual talent – which in itself is commendable – but he needs to learn to use others to generate greater collective value. Anyway, this won’t happen overnight. It’s a process and time on the pitch will be an immense help.

The front three were in their own areas of the pitch for large parts of the first half but made purposeful contributions in the second.

Subs: It was good to see Henry, Sagna, and Arteta eased back into action. They didn’t have a major part to play in this game but the minutes will come in handy. Those who are harsh might say Henry lost the ball more than once to loose touches while Sagna miscued a clearance and sent the ball into a dangerous area of the Arsenal box. Both looked a bit rusty and off the pace.

Wenger: The chaos on set-pieces, the easily conceded counter-attacks, and lack of impetus in the first half make him an easy target for criticism. Deserves credit for inspiring the comeback and for not rushing any of the main returning players back into the starting line-up.

Update: Sorry, Koscielny was in the Villa box when the cross came in for the second goal. It was Vermaelen who went high up the pitch on the right before chasing back. Dodgy stream and and all that!

29 Responses to Arsenal 3 – 2 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Kushagra India says:
    Nice Podcast From Le Grove with Alex Fynn the author of making Arsenal a modern super club…….ur thoughts DEsi..

    • DesiGunner says:

      What are the key points? Don’t have the time to listen to the whole thing right now.

      • Kushagra India says:

        David Dein was more about building a winning team above anything else,became a carte blanche …Wenger misses him.
        The board has always been a non interfering type whether it was Graham or Wenger now which, necessarily isn’t a good thing considering how Graham turned them over and how Wenger’s tenure is panning out.Wenger has the money to spend but is afraid to gamble big , thats why the greater necessity for DD type footballing guy in the board .Shuns the notion that Wenger is tactically inept…..Primorac and Wenger work hand in hand on that..Wenger wants total control and no conflicting voices..he knows better is the mantra….

        Thats why I believe we are yet to see any changes in coaching staff

      • DesiGunner says:

        That sounds like very general/broad opinion without any specifics or interesting facts. Did he give any facts to support his opinions?

    • If you visit Le Grove you could catch something very negative.Not a site to be recommended on a wonderful blog like this.The total opposite of Le Shite

      • Dhruv says:

        Do you promote ACLF, where fans are much more radical and blind supporters of Wenger? I think Desigunner is good because it allows opinions from both sides.

  2. Holahwaleh says:

    Datz 9ice of arsenal

  3. yeah. Ramsey good as ever!!

  4. Dhruv says:

    Relieved to win finally. A much needed win for the team. Though, two penalties in a match for Arsenal can be classified as lucky. A win in FA cup can also change the EPL fortunes.

    Rosicky and Kos did great again. Song was back to form and happy to see his creative side again, he is vital.

  5. jeff says:

    Looking at rosicky performance so far this season,I do think dat d little mozart just deserves a new contract.. At least for another year.. Fabianski looks good.. I also think dat Song needs a real competitor to push his game up..

    • Zgunner says:

      Anyone who still can’t see how amazing Rosicky is is just blind. One of the most under-rated players in the Premier League.

      What he deserves is more play time. Ramsey deserves a break; I think a breather will help him find his focus.

      I would love to see Song Rosicky Arteta in midfield.


      Sagna Mertesaker Kosceilny Vermaalen




      Van Persie

    • jeff says:

      Tomas Rosicky is probably one of the most under-rated player in the world.. he might not do Messi or Ronaldo stuffs.. but he’s unique,simple and classy.. fantastic vision,touches,and passing.. also,for an Attacking Midfielder,you can’t find a better tackler than him.. surprisingly,he can tackle much better than most of our defensive midfielders.. he’s just unlucky with that injury that ruled him out for almost 2 years.. i can understand that people often compare him with AR16 to urge Wenger to play TR7 in the starting eleven.. well for me,it’s a time-wasting.. it’s only Wenger policy that keeps Ramsey on his starting 11.. for a fully fit TR7,is clearly on a different level to Ramsey.. dare i say,he’s the best technique in our squad alongside RVP..

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        To be honest, most wont agree but i alwasy thought rosicky was a better version of fabregas with pace and shootign ability when he first came…he could run riot by turnign ppl in the midfield…with assists he was prolly the most unlucky i have seen..there is a compilation of his 2010-2011 seasons’ performance on youtube and u would be baffled to see how many throughballs didnt get the finish they deserved…another player i feel who played better when played centrally and got all those injuries when playing out wide..he was more of a pavel nedved than and freddie lyunberg and robert pires…i always have that feeling “what if playing on the wings caused those injuries when for the czech the guys use to play more centrally”…ppl woudl argue u need to run mroe in the centre but i disagree with the fact that it takes different physcial attributes to play on the wings, of course some ppl can play anywhere and he did well initially….but then i could be wrong…am just a layman with no footballing background….He will always be my fav player after the invincible era ended..even more than fabregas and van persie…of course my screen name says otherwise;) one more year rozza…just wanna see you get a fair run in the side…one last time

  6. ignatzuk says:

    Positives – the win, the comeback, the returning Arteta and Sagna, Rosicky, Kos. Fabianski also made some good saves in the first half. Reminded me a little of the Chelsea game, where we were rewarded for spells of relentless pressure. Hopefully it will give the team a boost and show them that when you have your opponent on the ropes, that’s when you increase your workrate and land the punches.

    Negatives – Van Persie’s elbow was cynical; the frozen-rabbit defending on the second; the amount of room Keane had to float in the ball for the first. It was a good ball in Desi, as soon as Dunne got off the ground there was nothing much to be done.

  7. kevinc says:

    So……2 pens plus a fluke from a completely useless Walcott enabled them to get a result that they never deserved!

    This only served to save Wengers ass until the next league game when even half the performance from Bolton that they showed against Liverpool will be sufficient enough to beat this sorry excuse for an Arsenal side.

    Wenger and the Board have made a bloody mess of our club and leave us with a group of average players, playing in a souless ground for a manager who should have been sacked 5 years ago!

    How can you say this is what makes the Arsenal such a great team to watch and support….are you blind?

    It’s only a matter of time before more inept performances lead to us being out of all competitions and finishing in 6th place by the end of the season. Stupid signs aound the ground platered there by the club look ridiculous too “Keep the Faith”, In Arsene we Trust….yeah very professional looking, how pathetic, our greats of the past must be turning in their graves at this classless bunch (in that I include the players,manager & Board! Bring back Herbert Chapman please….even his corpse would do a better job than this lot!!! What a disgrace!
    2 pens and a fluke from a completely useless Walcott enabled them to get a result that they never deserved!

    This only served to save Wengers ass until the next league game when even half the performance from Bolton that they showed against Liverpool will be sufficient enoughh to beat this sorry excuse for an Arsenal side.

    Wenger and the Board have made a bloody mess of our club and leave us with a group of average players, playing in a souless ground for a manager who should have been sacked 5 years ago!

    It’s only a matter of time before more inept performances lead to us being out of all competitions and finishing in 6th place by the end of the season. Stupid signs aound the ground platered there by the club look ridiculous too “Keep the Faith”, In Arsene we Trust….yeah very professional looking, how pathetic, our greats of the past must be turning in their graves at this classless bunch (in that I include the players,manager & Board! Bring back Herbert Chapman please….even his corpse would do a better job than this lot!!! What a disgrace!

    • cupsui loves kozzer says:

      your life must be pretty sad…can’t even enjoy a win!! i think you made a wrong turn and ended up on a blog that actually analyses the game and not fuel feed by the british tabloids…

    • back to le grove you sad sad individual

    • Flavour says:

      You are a big negative and it is people like you I don’t want to see nor hear from first thing in the morning. How can you be so negative? Even when Arsenal were two goals down they were the far better team. You must need spec saver to watch this match so go and get two for the price of one. Here are the match facts from Sky Sports:

      Team Statistics
      Aston Villa

      3 Goals

      0 1st Half Goals

      12 Shots on Target

      6 Shots off Target

      3 Blocked Shots

      10 Corners

      9 Fouls

      2 Offsides

      1 Yellow Cards

      0 Red Cards

      84.5 Passing Success

      17 Tackles

      82.4 Tackles Success

      66.2 Possession (More than half)

      59.1 Territorial Advantage

      633 Total Passes (More than haldf)

      23 Total Crosses (Almost double)

      170 Lost Balls

      64 Recoveries

      68.7 1st Half Poss.

      63.8 2nd Half Poss.

      How can this record be interpreted as a bad performance. I think either you are not an Arsenal fan or one of those useless people that never support a team that is not managed by a British. Sad enough almost all the teams are not owned by us anymore so suck your sorry ass and leave this blog for good. We need fresh air. Your words smell like gabagge

    • No doubt the sad bastard has copy and paste this to every blog he can find.As he has pressed the button twice here ,clearly a super cretin.

    • max says:

      At least make sure you don’t double post your copy and paste piece of sh*t you inapt lot.

    • Irish Desi Gooner says:

      Obviously a f***king moron who:
      1. Is clearly stupid enough to copy and paste this twice, confirming others’ suggestion that he probably belongs to the le f**ks brigade and just went around posting this in every arsenal blog

      2. Again, like others said, a sad sad waste of life on earth who doesn’t know how to enjoy little things in life.

      Do us a favour and f**k off to support shitty (because, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re the kind of “supporter” who doesn’t have what we normal people call the frontal lobe of the brain. It’s involved in decision making and forming an original idea/thought process). If you had one, you’d probably be able to stick by your choice of supporting a club and stand by them (original thought process, just in case you’re too stupid to follow what I’m trying to say). You on the other hand (clearly lacking a frontal lobe and hence a bleeding f***king moron), would just do whatever else everyone else are doing. And my guess is, morons like you would just support whatever team thats winning. So yeah, f**k off and go support shity. I bet there are already plenty of you people in that fan club, so you’d feel right at home with all those fools who also lack a frontal lobe, making you a what? Yup, clever boy, A FUCKING MORON

    • Brins says:

      Are you old enough to have witnessed Chapman’s Arsenal? or are you a kid who came to support arsenal when they were winning things and were invincible? either way, you lack some vital stuffs inside your head..i guess you get angry while having an orgasm and cut and throw away your bloody arse when you have constipation..
      put aside your worries…and enjoy a comeback that won’t come often..and if you are going to say that we were lucky without any efforts, you only saw the goals..not the whole match…

  8. barbes13 says:

    up gunnerz!!!!!!! at least we were able to stand the test of time.

  9. cupsui loves kozzer says:

    I think i wasn’t the only one with their head down at half time after some inept play…BUT on the 3rd day…i mean 2nd half Arsenal rose from the dead!
    Everything has pretty much been said…Koscienly is the best god-dammed CD in the premier league. He is amazing!
    To be critical of the great man RvP it wasn’t his best game (and people who really have no ability to analyse give him man of the match again), he wasn’t bad just not the spark that perhaps walcott and song and kozzer were! My critical analysis on RvP is that when he is open in the middle of the park he tends to always and only look right to walcott’s wing. Two times there was a better option (the ox) behind him on the left that would have been a clear run on goal. Maybe its due to him being turned slightly right due to his left foot preference but he seems to never look over his shoulder…can someone tell him 😉
    peace gooners keep the faith…thanks as always desi

  10. Tim says:

    Very much a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance, but at least one that showed we are capable of blowing teams away in a way we have not really done all season. Let’s hope the boys can build on the boost this comeback will have given them. It was thrilling stuff to watch, but I’ll happily settle for a string of dull 1-0 and 2-0 wins as long as we keep winning. After a miserable January, the season starts here for us.

  11. Ade David says:

    Good post. I was so impressed by R7 contribution. Bolton must fall in our next match. No room 4 any mistake in all epl matches now, otherwise it is good bye 2 champion league

  12. winata says:


  13. JJ Pittman says:

    Read somewhere that Koscielny has highest percentage tackling success in EPL. On first goal, primary cause was not sending a second defender to cover short corner. Kosc may have supposed to be marking Dunne, but you will see he was screened by at least two other Villans and crunched. Give credit to Bent for second; he is a clinical finisher.
    For anyone who had Fox Soccer Channel, there was about a 5 minute phone interview with Ivan Gazidis postgame. Made me proud to be a lifetime Gooner.
    Socalled “supporters” who always find the glass half-full really need to find another team.
    Che$ki and Spuds can both be caught. They are far from perfect also. May is a long way off. BS3 and MA8 are both back. Tell me that doesn’t make a difference!?
    Play the first 15 minutes of every game like we played first 15 of second half yesterday and we’ll be back where we belong. Got to believe that lesson was learned.
    Victoria Concordia Crescit!

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