Disappointing. That would be how I looked at the result. Another lowly placed team, woefully out of form and lack of quality players, yet we contrived to allow 2 points to be dropped. Villa Park was the scene of last night’s game but it was all too familiar. Comparatively, this was a better performance than the one witness at Carrow Road but it wasn’t much better. With Everton drawing and WBA winning in the earlier game, we could ill afford to not collect all 3 points. As it turns out, we only got what we deserved.
Changes were made to the side with Thomas Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere dropping to the bench from the side that played Montpellier. In came Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey respectively. We knew and expected changes to be made due to the upcoming run of fixtures and the need to rest some weary legs. It couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, with us facing a team down in 17th spot.
Tiredness was the reason used by Arsene Wenger in the post match press conference. Then why doesn’t the manager made more changes to freshen up the team? Or was it because this Arsenal cannot cope with more than 1 or 2 changes the team? A little bit of change in personnel could impact on the way the team plays or the understanding between players. If one player could only work with one specific player but struggles with another player, then I think we’re in trouble. Such rigidity would be the death of us.
We started off well but as soon as we decided to slow down the pace of the game, Aston Villa wrested control. They pressed high up they pitch and didn’t let up. None of our players had more than 2 or 3 seconds on the ball before a Villa player will be right in their face. Yes, it was not helped by the rain beating down profusely throughout the game. The pitch was heavy and each pass became slower and harder to control.
Despite both the condition and opposition tactic, we still persevered to play the same way. It needed the pass go immediately to the second player rather than go through a middle man. For illustration, imagine Arteta passing the ball to Ramsey, before Ramsey switching it to Jenkinson. With the pressing game that Villa were playing, we might be able to catch them off-guard with a direct pass from Arteta to Jenkinson, hence making our game much faster.
Brad Guzan had one of his easiest nights in Premier League football. Except for one Ramsey shot in the first half, I can remember any other significant saves which he needed to make. The other two chances that we got, we conspired to hit the fan sitting in row Z, when it was easier to aim for goal. Guzan’s job was made easier when strangely, Olivier Giroud was replaced by Francis Coqeulin as the final substitution. A defensive midfielder on for a striker when we should be chasing the winning goal? Gunnerblog summed it up with this tweet.
You can sugar-coat in any way that you like but that change looked like we were accepting that a draw was enough in this game. Just like Gunnerblog said, that’s what hurts the most. The fact that us, going to a place like Villa with the state that they are in, accepting a draw only shows in return, the state we’re in. We no longer go into a match thinking that 3 points is the only acceptable result. We are Arsenal and we now are at peace with mediocrity. For all the sweet talk that spouts from Ivan Gazidis and Wenger himself, this is the state that we’re in.
For some time now, the team has been a long way from winning something or achieving something. Perhaps there an acceptance within the squad, management or board. Sorry, that is just unacceptable to me.