Arsenal 3 – 0 Aston Villa

And that’s what we call a good December.

Beating Villa was essential to our cause and we came out of the exam with flying colours. The first half being even stevens, but the second half being an excellent display of attacking football from Arsenal. On the whole we brought the game to Villa and were dangerous going forward and always looking to score.

The line up saw Cesc start on the bench and Walcott didn’t make the starting line up either with Nasri, Eduardo and Arshavin the front three:

Almunia

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Traore

Song – Denilson

Nasri – Diaby – Eduardo

Arshavin

It was interesting to see Eduardo deployed on the left and Arshavin up front – there was a little bit of rotation, but generally Eduardo and Arshavin are starting to link up well. But it wasn’t until the second half and the introduction of Cesc Fabregas… The captain came on for Denilson whom injured his back and the player made an immediate impact.

His first major involvement was the winning of a free kick and subsequently he took the free kick and boy what a great free kick it was.
Now that was some free kick from Cesc and direct free kicks are like buses at the moment, we don’t get any but then we get two in a row. Unbelievable. Maybe Ramsey, Diaby and Eduardo will all get angry and score a couple themselves. If you watched the rest of the highlights in the clip above, then you would have seen the second goal – another from Cesc and it was a brilliant break – a great cross field pass by Armand Traore and good run and pass by Walcott and a great finish from Cesc.

Unfortunately, as you can see by the limp, Cesc pulled his hamstring again after scoring the second goal. It was an unfortunate injury but to be honest, I’m sure he was okay to come on and if it’s a little too early then these types of injuries are always possible. We’ll see later today how long Cesc is out for, let’s hope it not too long.

And the third was a great run by Diaby, who has been repaying Arsene’s faith in recent games with some better and better displays. With Diaby in the team yesterday, he brought a physical presence to the team and a certain general presence on the pitch which was good to see – the commentors on Sky couldn’t stop calling him the new Vieira and lauding praise on him.

All in all, it was a very good game and a very good second half display which has put us right back in the title mix.

Let’s take a quick read of Arsene’s comments post game…

on why he brought Fabregas off the bench…

I felt we had taken over the game and I think we were dominant. We missed a few chances before he came on, we could have been up already, but of course he adds some creativity in your game and at that moment I felt it was needed.

on whether it was a gamble worth taking…

You never know. If you can prove to me that we would have won the game without him coming on the pitch, I was wrong. But we can never check that. I feel that I did the right thing. I was cautious. We know that Alex Song will go soon [to the Africa Cup of Nations] and in midfield we could become short if we lose players. But I would do it again because sometimes you follow your instinct in a game and if I put him on the bench I know before the game that I will put him on if it is really needed. Had we been 1-0 up I would not have done it. But you do what you think you need to win the game.

on why he gambled in the first place…

Aston Villa has a game that makes you very nervy, because you can be dominant and lose the game. We were dominant, didn’t take advantage of it and so you can be cautious or push the gamble a little bit further. That’s what I did.

on a significant win for Arsenal…

I think it is a massive result for the team. When you look where we were a few weeks ago, credit to the team, they didn’t give up when everybody has written us off. We kept going and that shows the team has mental strength. Maybe the turning point was the second half at Liverpool when we won the game.

on Denilson’s withdrawal…

He has a back problem, the same as before. I haven’t seen him yet but we will see.

on bouncing back in December…

We had to keep the belief high, to keep the desire. I believe this team is talented, it has great spirit and for me they deserve to be successful. But we have not won anything yet and sometimes when you have not done that you don’t know if you can do it. So it was important for them to keep believing they could come back in a decent position.

on the title race…

It makes it interesting now. We are in a strong position. We can have belief but it’s a long way to go and we have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to improve together.

on whether he is surprised at the speed of their recovery…

Yes, because I could say we would win the games but you couldn’t predict that our opponents would drop the points. After the Chelsea game I said openly that Chelsea would drop points on the basis of what I had seen. And they did. But how many they would drop I didn’t know.

on the nature of this Premier League season…

I just think the Premier League is very open. We go to Portsmouth on Wednesday and you know it will be another tough game. What has changed in the league this season is that all the teams can make results. You have seen Birmingham against Chelsea. It is like that anywhere. You go anywhere it’s not that you go there, turn up and take three points. That has gone. It has gone – until March. After that some teams will be safe, or will not go for Europe and you take some easier points. But from now until March in this championship the consistent team will get it.

on the impact of the Africa Cup of Nations on Chelsea…

Yes but they go to the African Nations Cup and we have the injuries. If you lose a player for three weeks through injury it’s like he goes to the African Nations.

on keeping Andrey Arshavin up front…

It’s a bit too early to decide that. I have no obvious reason at the moment to change that. I think he came alive in the last 30 minutes. I like him there.

on whether he still needs to buy a striker…

“I’ve said we will keep our eyes open and if a good opportunity turns up we will do it. But at the moment I haven’t got any. .I will have to look maybe as well at midfielders and how big the damage is. If we lose Denilson and Fabregas we will be short there. I don’t know yet.

on the defensive test against Villa…

It was an interesting game for us because we were tested defensively as well. That was very important for the belief of the team as well. You play against Aston Villa and you don’t concede a goal – that was important for us.

We play Pompey away on Wednesday and it’s such a vital game… I can’t wait.

  • devday

    1 Chelsea 19 13 3 3 28 42
    2 Manchester United 19 13 1 5 22 40
    3 Arsenal 18 12 2 4 27 38

  • Yemi

    watched only the highlights, but the result is a great one

  • VJ

    look on to the next game guys with cesc out and possibly denilson not to mention the continuing failure of eduardo were in a dilemma against a pompey outfit who will be trying their hardest at home especially to end the year on a high, our away form speaks for itself W4 L3 D2, we need to rectify that with a win, im going for a small arsenal win, pompey may be bad but with our missing players we only have arshavin nasri and diaby as in form attackers hopefully our class will make the difference

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    Hopefully Cesc will be back for the game against united at the end of January.

  • wills

    Pompey won’t be an easy game, especially as they’ve now been allowed to keep half of their African players for the game.

    I’m expecting Cesc and Denilson to both be out, however there is still no news on Arsenal.com about either injury.

    We beat them comfortably last year if I remember rightly, with Vela and Bendtner up front!

    Shame about Chelsea winning yesterday, but as long as we keep winning our games, that’s what matters.