The question on everyone’s lips during the second half of the game, was surely how would be mess up a 2-0 lead and that’s where we are at the moment. When the first goal from Villa went in, how nervous were you? But I’ve clearly jumped ahead of the game… let me start from the beginning and the team line-ups…
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Arshavin – Rosicky
With a bench of Szczesny, Van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Djourou, Gibbs, Bendtner…
After defeats at home to Sp*rs and away to Braga, it was very very important that we put in a top performance and also got a result. It was clear to me as a spectator that the team had come out with a verve about them – a tenacity about them and a real want. It was good to see, but of course, we have seen it before – and then not seen it in the second half… Right from the off we were going for the jugular and creating chance after chance after chance.
After missing a few chances early on, you started to wonder when the goal would come and it finally came through Arshavin.The three midfielders just behind Chamakh took it in turns to move around and Rosicky was sometimes behind Chamakh too and it was good to mix it up. The first goal came when Arshavin caught a long-ish ball from Fabianski which two Aston Villa defenders missed and the Russian latched onto, and facing two defenders, drilled the ball into the bottom of the net.
Arshavin then moved in more centrally and created two chances for us in quick succession, the first sending Nasri through on goal, the Frenchman rounding the keeper, only to hit the side netting – the second a delightful pass out wide to Sagna to crossed in for Chamakh to head at goal, only for Brad Friedel to save at close range. From the resulting corner, an outswinging corner to Nasri on the edge of the box who dispatched the ball into the back of the net.
Half time, 2-0 up? Not a great scoreline for us and the main question was whether or not we could keep this lead. But Aston Villa reverted to a 4-4-2 in the second half and went for us – and they soon got one back through Clark who shot at goal from around the edge of the box – the keepers view was blocked by Carew – standing in an offside position, and suddenly it was game on. But the next goal would define to us – and it came to us through Arshavin to Rosicky to Chamakh and the ball was in the back of the net.
Aston Villa tried to come back again and it was Clark with their second too – but we wrapped it up with an excellent team goal involving Wilshere from the off and passing in Chamakh, who passed it back to Rosicky whose shot was then blocked, falling to Chamakh who unselfishly passed the ball over to Jack Wilshere to score at the far post – Wilshere in my opinion should play a little bit higher up in the pitch as he does have the ability to create.
All in all, a good win… I’m not sure when the nerves will go, at 2-0 most teams would be confident, but not us! But a win is a win…
Arsene spoke after the game:
I believe we had three good performances and for me against Tottenham we played well. We had a lot of possession in a difficult game in Braga and we responded well today. Overall you focus on the performance – you do not always lose when you dominate games and that’s what happened today. We played well, Villa had a good response in the second half but we managed to find the resources to win the game.
One player who was very impressive was Andrei Arshavin – and he does play very well on the road. The Russian was at his creative best, something that has been missing more recently. With Cesc missing, it was so important for Andrei to play well and he duly delivered…
Andrei has been very sharp today I feel. I felt he was always dangerous. A good test is when you like a player to have the ball and you always like him to have the ball because you feet he could make the difference.
It’s Wigan at home in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see who plays – until tomorrow my friends, let’s enjoy the win!