In reality, we all saw this coming. We failed to score against one of the worst sides in the Premiership after we scored 10 goals in previous three matches. It was another sterile display from our players with only one positive thing – we didn’t concede a goal though we could easily leave Villa Park defeated.
Wenger decided to rotate some players and dropped Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere out of starting eleven for likes of Jenkinson, Gibbs and Ramsey. It sounded reasonable given that we have to play against Everton on Wednesday, Sagna and Wilshere had long-term injuries while Gibbs needs playing minutes in order to restore excellent form he had before he got injured against West Ham. Oxlade-Chamberlain started instead of injured Walcott while Gervinho had to wait for his chance on the bench.
It didn’t look well from the very start. We gave away too many passes and there were a few small intervals in which we struggled to take the ball from our opponents. Our possession and passes were mostly done at our third of the pitch, where even Giroud had to come deep to pick up the ball. The Villains weren’t exactly top of the game as well but they did close all paths to their goal while Weimann almost scored from something that was mix of a cross and a shot. Sczszesny showed safe hands there.
We had to wait 20 minutes before we made something in front of Guzan’s goal. It was nice combination but at the end of it Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot went wide. Ten minutes later Oxlade-Chamberlain caused trouble for opponents but Ramsey’s low shot was saved by the American goalkeeper. It started to be more interesting as half time got closer – Weimann’s goal was ruled offside (right decision) while we had our best chance in dying minutes of the first half. Giroud hit a low cross for Koscielny but despite being only 7 meters away from goal. In the end the French defender wasted the biggest opportunity for Arsenal by sending the ball over the bar.
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The second half started with Cazorla’s attempt – prepared by Giroud – from outside the box but it ended over the bar as well. We had two more chances in the next 15 minutes – one created by Oxlade-Chamberlain while the other one was set up by Giroud – but Ramsey wasted both of them. The Villains weren’t very quiet as well. Benteke and substitute Holman created a real mess in our defense doing one-twos, but Holman’s indecisiveness and Sczszesny’s positioning saved us from trouble. Wenger continued the tradition of replacing Podolski and brought Gervinho in. The Ivorian set up the ball for Ramsey few minutes later but the Welshman’s shot from outside the box went wide. On the other side of the pitch, we were lucky when Holman took a shot from 20 meters. His shot would most certainly have ended in the roof of the net if it wasn’t for Sczszesny. The Pole made an excellent save by deflecting Holman’s shot onto the woodwork. Wenger introduced Arshavin for Oxlade-Chamberlain and, surprisingly, Coquelin for Giroud. The latter substitution caused Arsenal supporters to chant: “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
Arshavin nearly created a goal when his brilliant clip to on-coming Gervinho in the six-yard-box, but was cleared at the last second by Clark. In the very last minute of the match Coquelin found a space on the right wing and tried to make a cross but his attempt was horrible.
It seems we decided to prove everyone that we can’t fight for the Premiership title this season. We don’t have enough quality in the squad to deal with the teams like Aston Villa easily and when Walcott and Wilshere are unavailable, we don’t have sharpness, finishing and pace required to win. To be honest, it would be foolish to expect from the team that managed to achieve only five victories in thirteen matches (46 percent!?) to fight for the Premiership title. If you can’t score a goal against one of the worst sides in the league, you simply don’t deserve the title. When it comes to Wenger’s arrogance, it is something that I’m used to. He didn’t admit he was wrong when we lost to FAnchester United at Emirates last season when he substituted Oxlade-Chamberlain with Arshavin and nobody can expect that from him. He is just too stubborn and too arrogant to admit that he made a wrong choice. If he wasn’t, we would win at least one visible trophy in the past 7 years. If he still knows, he will spend a lot of money in January on at least one world-class player given that this team needs physical presence in the midfield and another striker.
This draw is a horrible result but it can be fixed if we win at Goodison Park at Wednesday.
What is the thinking behind the substitution? I will not explain every decision I make.
I have managed for 30 years at the top level and I have to convince you [journalists] I can manage the team?
When asked about the chants following the game, Wenger said: “I don’t want to comment on that. I do my job and do my best for the club. Why should I create a rift? I have given you the answer.
I leave it to you to judge. I try to be as good as I can be. You are all great managers! I read the newspapers every day and I can tell you that you are always great managers!
You judge the game for the papers and I sit here and explain to you our game. How many games have you managed? I promise you if you manage one I will sit in the stands and chant ‘you know what you are doing!’
You can discuss every substitution. You think what you want. I do my job and I let people judge it. I do that every day and I do my best every day. I know why I do it.
Always, when you play away from home after the Champions League it can be difficult.
We lacked a bit of sharpness today in the final third. Physically we were jaded.
And Wenger defended his decision not to play Jack Wilshere after the midfielder’s long injury lay-off.
It’s more dangerous to bring him on in weather like that [wet and windy] when he’s tired. It made sense for him not to play.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Wojciech Sczszesny | 7.5: He did make one mistake that resulted with indirect free-kick but it happened because of the weather in Birmingham. Made spectacular save of Holman’s shot and did well to stop attempts from Weimann, Benteke and Bannan as well.
Carl Jenkinson | 7.0: The fresh English international was good in defending and made a few good attacking runs. However, his crossings are still far from the level requested and needed in Arsenal. It seems he co-operate better with Oxlade-Chamberlain than with Cazorla.
Per Mertesacker | 7.0: Did his job very well, Benteke, Agbonlahor and Weimann were mostly left out of the box.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: Unfortunately, he wasted our best opportunity to win this match. He was solid in defense though he could be asked (as well as Mertesacker and Arteta) why Holman had so much space to take a shot.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.5: The long-awaited return of the youngster gave us decent defending on the left side. However, his link with Podolski wasn’t that good as it was before he sustained his injury. Let’s hope all time needed for that link to establish again passed today and that Gibbs and Podolski will bring hell to Everton on the right side of defense.
Mikel Arteta | 5.5: I can almost repeat what I wrote after his performance against Montpellier: “Not exactly his best performance. He can do much better but it seems he is a bit jaded and that influences on his concentration and passing.” Arteta is an intelligent player but his recent performances proved that we need natural top-class defensive midfielder.
Santi Cazorla| 5.5: He had better games as well. He didn’t create too much for attackers and in one occasion he seemed like he didn’t see Jenkinson standing only two meters away waiting for proper ball to cross. Had he scored very first opportunity in the second half, maybe he would gave another Man-of-the-match-performance.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: Someone would argue but Ramsey, with all his limits, was our best midfielder today. Granted, he wasted too many chances – but he was doing something on the field and he showed passion and desire for victory.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 6.5: He was dangerous in couple of occasions in the first half but later he got lost in the second. He had to do more given that he was replacing our best attacker so far Theo Walcott.
Lukas Podolski | 5.5: The German had just one situation in which he could break a tradition that says Podolski never scored on four consecutive matches. His left foot was unused today and that is always a shame. His link with Gibbs has to be much better in forthcoming matches.
Olivier Giroud| 7.0: Giroud didn’t score but he did create three chances for his team-mates. Unfortunately, Koscielny, Cazorla and Ramsey made his work wasted. Still, he had to play better when it comes to finishing, he hit the air in one occasion again.
Gervinho | 5.0: Cieran Clark took away a chance for Ivorian to become a hero (or a zero) with excellente clearance. Gervinho’s first touch was horrible today, it looked like his foot was under anesthetics. If there are questions regarding his footballing intelligence, I’m afraid this match was another answer to it.
Arshavin | 5.5: He made aforementioned pass to Gervinho that was cleared by Clark. Other than that, Russian didn’t show much in his cameo.
Coquelin | – : He didn’t play much. His coming in instead of Giroud wasn’t accepted from Arsenal supporters on the stadium and his poor cross from clear situation in the very last minute explained why. It is very unlikely that Coquelin will ever become anything more than just a fringe player.
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