It's our fourth defeat of the season, our second at home and we're joint 4th with Villa and 9 points off the top. In reality, we have no chance at the title. No chance. Not unless Arsene sorts himself out as well as the team, because today we were woeful.
In terms of a match report, what can I write - in the first half we literally didn't have a shot, in the second we kind of mustered some sort of something and hit the post, but I can't even recall Friedel even making a save.
The formation and personnel was the same as United, but I was quite annoyed that we went 4-5-1 at home to a team we should have beaten. I can understand doing so against a big team, as we did against United. But against United, the whole team played at 100% and got forward when it mattered. Last weekend, we saw Diaby in the box like a striker on many occasions, but today we saw a complete lack of desire, a lack of penetration and a lack of cutting edge.
Today's line up was:
Sagna – Gallas – Silvestre – Clichy
Walcott – Denilson – Cesc – Diaby – Nasri
And it just wasn’t right at all. Diaby and Cesc actually play in a similar position and on Saturday last weekend, their opta stats showed that they’d been too close. What did that mean? It meant that we had less movement, but if you play “defensive counter-attack” then it works. Diaby of last week was completely different then the Diaby of today. We didn’t need the “extra” man in midfield and today it was a hindranceto our game. With brings me on to Bendtner. Bendtner today had the worst performance of his whole Arsenal career. He couldn’t control the ball. He didn’t look like he really wanted it and was marshaled by the Villa defence to the point where he wasn’t really even there. So that basically meant that we had two players who effectively were a hindrance. Both players were clumsy and literally lost possessionevery time they had the ball. It was no surprise to see both go off in the second half. Their performances were terrible.
Believe me, if we had Eduardo and Van Persieup front (I’ve lost all hope with Adebayor) instead of Diaby and Bendtner, with the other nine players behind them, we’d have won this game today. But Bendtner and Diaby are short of confidence, short of sharpness and short of confidence. If Diaby had played as part of a four man midfield, he would have probably done better, but every time he got the ball, there was no one in front of him, instead all the players seemed to be sideways, with Bendtner a player who was too heavily marshaled to allow any real penetration. But of course, Eduardo and Van Persie weren’t available, so Wenger had to play the team he played right? Well, I understand Arsene didn’t expect Bendtner to have such a shocker. But really, Arsene, unless we’re playing a top team, always go 4-4-2. We need the formation in the way we play. Vela has been awesome whenever he’s been on the pitch, surely today was a case to give him his first league start?
Which brings me to Cesc – he is so out of form at the moment, it’s ridiculous. He seems to be able to muster the ability to play against the bigger teams, but today his passing was all off, he was slow, slow to pass and slow to react. His defensive game wasn’t there at all. He hasn’t had a summer break and he needs one. Arsene’s recently commented that Cesc is playing as normal and not in bad form, but his usual 80% passing accuracy rate was surely somewhere in the 30% bracket. Cesc won’t play now until the 25th of Nov as his yellow card means he’s suspended against City. Please rest, please drink some red bull, please do something.
Our defence actually looked relatively sold and I’ll go with the all French back four as a somewhat more solid backline. Today’s goal came from unusual events, an own goal by Clichy and a counter attack when literally all our players were down the other end.
Which brings me to Mike Riley. Probably the worst referee in all the world after today’s performance. He was unaware of what was actually happening on the pitch and his influence on the game was to such an extent that a referee should never have on a game. He constantly awarded Villa free kicks and not us. At one point Clichy was dragged down by Milner and then kicked when on the floor and Milner got a free kick. Absurd. They really kicked us, broke up play, but to our astonishment, at half time, somehow we had two yellows and they had none.
The refereeing decision that lead to the penalty was abysmal. On the right of midfield, Theo was dragged down, slid at and pushed to the ground. A free kick to Arsenal, without a doubt. Riley didn’t give it, for what reason, only he knows. Yes, Barry was fouled, but Theo was first and that’s just not fair. The next sequence of events saw an outraged Theo lunged into a Villa player. Penalty. Almunia saved it, and it was a warning sign that we didn’t take. For the first goal, Sagna was fouled to the point where he had to be stretchered off and Arsene says he’s out for the next three weeks. Riley failed to give the free kick and they went down the other end to score. And for the second Villa goal – Vela, through on goal, was hacked down by two Villa players. Free kick on the edge of the area at minimum, would it be a yellow or a red or was it in the area? Without a doubt, it was ruthless. But again, Riley failed to give the freekick and within 10 seconds it was 2-0.
So Mike Riley, something must give. Were you paid? Did you have a bet on Villa to win? Did you put your money on United winning the league or something? I need you to explain what the hell you were up to today. Because if you referee again in the premier league, then there is no justice in this world. And you know the worst thing? You will referee again and you’ll probably give United a couple of penalties and 10 minutes of stoppage time when we’re 2-0 up at Old Trafford later this season.
So where do we go from here? I really don’t know. Our next two games are City and then Chelsea, both away. Unless we sort this nonsense out, we’ll probably lose those games too. It’s the first time in a very very long time where defeat doesn’t sound absurd. Remember, Arsene, losing is just as much a habit as winning. We’ve lost 4 games and it’s only November.
Arsene’s comments echoed mine and most of the fans:
“It was a very bad afternoon because we were not sharp physically and beaten everywhere in the first half. I felt overall Villa were the better side. It is frustrating because we played at a kind of pace today that is not our pace. Villa played very well, but we were not sharp or incisive enough. We can play very well, but at the top level performances have to be consistent. I always say the first sign of quality is consistency, so this was frustrating after beating Manchester United.”
I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so down as far as I can remember.
Someone say something to cheer me up, the comments section is all yours.
Arsenal:Almunia, Sagna (Toure 71), Gallas, Silvestre, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, Diaby (Adebayor 61), Bendtner (Vela 68).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Song Billong, Djourou.
Aston Villa:Friedel, Cuellar, Laursen, Davies, Luke Young, Ashley Young, Sidwell, Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Carew, Knight, Salifou, Reo-Coker, Gardner.
Booked:Friedel, Barry, Agbonlahor, Sidwell.
Goals:Clichy 70 og, Agbonlahor 80.
Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).]]>