So, it was not the best possible start to the crunch fixtures as Arsenal only managed a draw against Aston Villa. The big question of whether this is a point gained or two points lost, remains to be seen. On the balance of play, it was a fair result for both sides. Chances were few and far between in yesterday’s game with Arsenal probably inching just a little with better oppourtunities to claim the win.
Ramsey returned to the starting line-up for us in midfield and this was where most of the punches were traded. Not really end-to-end stuff. When Villa attacked through the likes of Downing and Young on the flanks, our defence coped well, though Clichy would like not look back on his performance against the latter. Similarly when we attacked, the likes of Dunne and Collins proved to be a tough wall to crack.
The real worry is the injury suffered by Thomas Vermaelen. The Belgian is a show-in for signing of the season, even this early in the season and has proved to be a cornerstone in defence. More news will come out later today when x-ray is done on him but the early signs is that it could be a broken bone. If that is the case, it would probably sidelined him for at least a month or two. Campbell came in to replace Vermaelen and frankly, looked like he never left. The burly defender coped with everything that Villa threw at him and with him in the team, Emile Heskey couldn’t win a single header for the rest of the game. I’m much pleased for Campbell for his performance but with the next few tough games coming one after another, whether his fitness is able to cope with the punishing schedule after being out of the game for half a year is still a big question mark.
Having seen his constant Premier League defensive partner hobbled off, Gallas must be fearing the worst. The fact that he was Arsenal best performer of the night, tells you a lot of the commitment and desire this season. I was not expecting to remain in the squad for the beginning of this season but up till now, I’m really glad that he stayed. Gallas showed why he is so sought after in the footballing world and why he was held in high regards by one Jose Mourinho. He never lost sight of Agbonlahor for the entire match. After being skinned twice by the Villa forward in the last 2 meetings at the Grove, Gallas did not allow that to happen for a third time. His reading of the game was just brilliant and the way he quietly went about his work was impressive, to say the least.
The two chances to score that came our way, both hit the post and the bar. First Fabregas’ weaving run and shot rebounded off the post but we did not profit from the rebound as Ramsey got into Rosicky’s way of planting it in the first time. Rosicky again was involved for the second effort which hit the post after Fabregas’ unselfishly laid the ball to the Czech’s path after Arshavin’s initial shot have been parried by Brad Friedel. Tough luck and perhaps we didn’t have that with us yesterday.
Nicklas Bendtner was another who profited from a team mate’s injury when he was substituted in for Eduardo midway through the second half. The big Dane’s return was a welcomed one as Arsenal started to win headers in the opposition half, something that neither Arshavin or Eduardo achieved when either was played in the middle. Bendtner is bound to play a bigger role in the upcoming fixtures and the 30 minutes he had yesterday would’ve done his fitness a world of wonder.
A draw is not too bad a result considering that Chelsea have already lost there this season. We’re still only 2 points behind Chelsea having played a game more than our London rivals. Time to put this result aside and prepare for United’s visit on Sunday. Wenger will have to do it without the service of one of the real stalwart in Arsenal’s season thus far in Vermaelen. Sol’s signing is now turning to be a blessing in disguise or could there be further activities on the transfer market after the latest injury setbacks.
More thoughts tomorrow. Thanks for reading.