Aston Villa v Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: January 13, 2014 8.00 PM BST
Before this weekend Arsenal were sitting pretty at the top of the table, going into this game however, the Gunners were third, behind Manchester City and Chelsea. A win at Villa Park is vital to keep up pressure on the two in blue, and to keep our hopes of a Premiership trophy this season alive.
The game started off with Villa setting up like the away team. Sitting back with Agbonlahor and Benteke as a counter attacking outlet. There were scenes that you often see with Arsenal, possession into the 70th percentages, but not really threatening the Villa goal.
Giroud had the first good chance for Arsenal. He met a Sagna cross with his head, but steered it well wide; he should have done better.
There was then a lengthy pause for Nathan Baker, who suffered a head injury due to a Gnabry shot. He was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Bacuna. Apparently with nothing more than a mild concussion.
Agbonlahor was looking dangerous for the Villa side, and it seemed like a single mistake could easily see us punished. This mistake eventually came, Wilshere miscontrolling in a dangerous area, and Koscielny and Flamini unclear which of them should claim the loose ball. Benteke pounced and squared to Delph, but thankfully his shot was poor, and Szczesny watched it dribble wide.
Arsenal as usual were having flashes of brilliance but lacking that final penetrating ball, up until just past the half hour mark that is. Santi played Monreal in with a delightful ball behind the defence, who cut the ball back across the edge of the box. Wilshere picked it up and skilfully directed it into the bottom corner. 1-0 Arsenal.
Villa restarted the game but immediately lost possession. Wilshere turned provider this time with a chipped pass over the top to Giroud. The Frenchman controlled it well before lashing it across goal and past a helpless Guzan. Two goals in a minutes, 2-0 Arsenal.
Arsenal seemed to get a little sloppy after that, show boating and trick passes attempted; the urgency gone from the game. Understandable in a way, but it’s something Wenger needs to address at half time.
Villa got more of the possession in the last ten minutes, putting crosses into the box and threatening our goal more than they had all half. There was nothing that particularly threatened Szczesny though, Mertesacker doing a superb defensive job.
A good first half, but it’s not over yet. As it stands Arsenal are back on top of the league, but if Villa get a goal it could be a long forty five minutes.
Sagna Mertesacker(c) Koscielny Monreal
Be sure to check out our Arsenal Video Highlights page to view highlights of recent matches! A link is also at the top of the article.