Arsenal 2-1 Villa | Sorry, but that wasn’t good enough

A late strike from Santi Cazorla rescued a win for Wenger’s men after more defensive ineptitude had given Aston Villa the chance of an unlikely point.

The Spaniard turned in Monreal’s low cross to spark celebrations of sheer relief around the Emirates after an unconvincing performance. That we’d even need a winner at all seemed unlikely when Cazorla scored the opening goal after just six minutes, firing home after his initial shot rebounded to him. The early strike should have settled any nerves and the scene was set for another Emirates pasting, but instead Arsenal reverted to type and turned in a patchy first half display. So much so that the visitors gave as good as they got with Szczesny being called upon just as much as Guzan down the other end.

While Arsenal dominated possession they never really threatened a second goal and Villa grew into the game. The pace and lively running of Benteke, Wiemann and Agbonlahor caused the home defence plenty of problems whenever an Arsenal move broke down as they exploited the vast space behind the gung-ho Gunners. As the half time whistle blew Arsenal were on top, but the visitors were very much in the game.

The second half was a big improvement though as a more determined Arsenal penned Villa back (I’m fed up with asking this every week, but why aren’t we as committed in the first half?) The second goal seemed only a matter of time as the Gunners swarmed around Guzan’s goal, the best chance falling to Giroud who lashed wastefully wide at the near post with his left foot. Van Persie he ain’t.

On 67 minutes the game changed suddenly with an incident that would be laughable were it not indicative of the serious malaise with which this side is afflicted.

Villa scored from an Arsenal corner.

Arsenal had left two men back against Agbonlahor on the halfway line — pretty standard procedure. But when Wiemann hoofed the ball clear, he chased his own punt, collected the second ball and ran towards goal. By this time he’d been joined by N’Zogbia and Benteke while only one one red shirt had made it back to help. So Villa had a 4 v 3 situation because three of their players had the desire and awareness to sprint forward while half our team were dozing and left trailing in their wake (as the picture below shows).


Now I’ve circled Walcott to show how far behind goalscorer Weimann he is. This is important when you notice his position as Wiemann cleared the ball a few seconds earlier…


Yup, three feet goal-side of the Austrian and yet he didn’t bother to track his run as he whizzed past him. Just as he allowed Olsson to run past him in the build up to Blackburn’s goal last week, he couldn’t be bothered to do the dirty work for his team this week either. Lazy, or does he just not care? It’s this kind of sloppy attitude that goes unchallenged by Wenger, who allows it to happen year in, year out from lots of players, not just Theo.

My point is we do not work hard enough at the defensive side of our game. It was ok when we had natural warriors like Vieira, Keown and Parlour who would roll their sleeves up and didn’t need to be reminded of their responsibilities. But when the manager nurtures a young side, focusing exclusively on technical ability and failing to instill a work ethic in them, this is the result.

What makes this goal even more annoying is that 10 minutes earlier Villa had an identical break from a corner. Their players countered with speed and determination and we were again outnumbered, but thankfully the move broke down. The warning would’ve been heeded by most other teams, but not Arsenal.

So why am I making such a big fuss about their goal? We won didn’t we? I’m being unnecessarily picky and harsh because I want Wenger to go, right? Wrong. Yes I want Wenger to go, but for the same reason I’m highlighting this shocking piece of play — because it demonstrates how defensively naive we are throughout the team, how we have no work ethic and how we constantly repeat our mistakes. This will eventually cost us fourth place this season just as it’s cost us any chance of a trophy in recent years.

It’s no good having a forward line capable of putting seven past Newcastle if you neglect the defensive aspect of the game, but that’s exactly what Wenger does. He sold our only defensive midfielder and hasn’t bothered to replace him because he thinks football is all about going forward. He also has little idea of tactics, which is how Lambert was able to outsmart him today by coming so close to taking an away point with his journeymen players.

I haven’t even mentioned Szczesny’s poor attempt to keep out Wiemann’s shot. That’s his third mistake in the last three games and the young keeper desperately needs a breather — not physically, but mentally. I rate him highly and think he will develop into a top class player, but only if he’s nurtured properly. Asking a 22 year old to keep goal in such trying times behind such a porous defence is not fair and we desperately need an experienced keeper to back him up. But experienced keepers have no resale value of course, so we make do with youngsters like Mannone and Fabianski instead while Szczesny has to face constant pressure game after game.

You’ll have probably noticed by my rant that I’m hardly over the moon with today’s display, but that’s because I’m looking at the bigger picture. And coming into focus on the horizon is Gareth Bale bearing down on our defence in a north London derby which will cost us £30m if we lose. Yes we won today, but ask yourself if that performance and lack of defensive nous will suffice next week at White Hart Lane?

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Comments
  1. Jimmy J

    Don’t apologise, you are right. Far more things concerned me about today than pleased me. Only the 3 points and Cazorla were good, nothing else

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  2. begeegs

    I’d agree 100% with your analysis. However, Villa were not really threatening today. They had a two chances in the first half and you’d expect Chesney to save that goal. If he had, we would have won 1-0.

    However, if anything the defeat against Bayern, it demonstrates that even with good players, you need organization and a game plan. With Wenger and good players, I don’t think that you’d see a lot different from what we are seeing today. Perhaps we may generate more chances going forward, but defensively, the players would abdicate responsibilities and generally not know what to do. It’s why I want him gone too, but I don’t expect that will happen anytime soon.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  3. gooner

    When AV scored, it could have ended 2-1 to the visitors. With the gunners pressing and passing all over the placethat they won was indeed fortunate. Against abetter side the gunners could have leaked another goal.
    I still believe the gunners over passing give time for defenders and md field player to get back in numbers.The gunners speed of attack from defence to attack is too slow.
    Too many passes. Watch how Wigan scored.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  4. JacksBack

    Yeah, it wasn’t great, but in the last 3 prem games Stoke, Sunderland & Villa, there has been real fight and guts to secure the points, 9 out of 9 – something badly lacking in recent seasons.

    Stop worrying about Bale! Seriously, grow a pair!
    Who has conceded more goals this season – Arsenal or spurs? Who has scored more?
    We’re a point behind them and 2 behind Chelsea. Spurs won’t beat WHam on monday and Chelsea definitely won’t beat City tomorrow – so by next sunday we could be 3rd. This Arsenal team lacks the golden players of the past, but i think they’re gonna fight for every ball in these remaining 12 games.

    Look at your last 6 headlines. More whine than threshers!

    Pathetic really, bitch when we lose bitch when we win.
    Say nothing, your voice means nothing to us who go every week and support the team, not stay at home watching it on a laptop stream with a cup of hot chocolate, tutting like Mary Whitehouse watching an episode of Hollyoaks.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 15 Thumb down 22

    • MrGooner

      Lol, agree 110% and awesome rant but i agree the team needs to apply more work ethic

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

      • Gooner Steve

        So MrGooner, you agree with him 110% for disagreeing with me, but you agree with what I said in my post? Erm…

        Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

        • MrGooner

          No mate, all im saying is that jacksback is right about you moaning to much but your analysis (although a rant) is CORRECT, you have the right idea bro, just a lil angry lol we are all gooners son there’s no point argueing GOONER TILL I DIE

          Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

    • Gooner Steve

      Who has conceded more goals this season – Arsenal or spurs? Who has scored more?

      And there I was thinking it was about points on the board.

      We’re a point behind them and 2 behind Chelsea. Spurs won’t beat WHam on monday and Chelsea definitely won’t beat City tomorrow – so by next sunday we could be 3rd.

      I make an analysis of where I think we’re going wrong, backed up with examples. Your response is to guess at a couple of fixtures and hope we’re third next week. Brilliant.

      Say nothing, your voice means nothing to us who go every week and support the team, not stay at home watching it on a laptop stream with a cup of hot chocolate, tutting like Mary Whitehouse watching an episode of Hollyoaks.

      Translation: Say Arsenal are brilliant or you’re not a proper fan like me.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 17 Thumb down 7

      • JacksBack

        GOONERSTEVE: “I make an analysis of where I think we’re going wrong, backed up with examples.”

        No, you weren’t thinking about points on the board – you were wetting your pants about a match that hasn’t happened. Where exactly are you ‘backing with examples’ – by hiding under your duvet ‘cos big bad Bale is coming?

        GOONERSTEVE: “Say Arsenal are brilliant or you’re not a proper fan like me”

        No. You say negative tripe ‘cos you’re a sheep and I say we fought damn hard to bag the last 9 points. Where exactly did i say we’re brilliant. If you were at the game today (which you weren’t 100%) you would’ve seen the likes of Jack and Santi and Vermaelen and Per and Arteta fighting for every ball, chasing lost causes, scraping for every header. Monreal’s gut-bursting run to set up the winner was worth the price of the ticket today.

        You made no denial that you sit at home watching the game on stream. Enough said.
        Hey, if you’re lucky, Bale will score the winner next week and you can jump up and down and write ‘I TOLD YOU SO’ in big letters here and give yourself an award as the Nostradamus of bloggers.

        Or you can watch us win next week at Spurs and still say its papering over the cracks blah-blah-blah.
        Either way, i repeat, you’re irrelevant.

        Don’t forget to read the Sunday tabloids tomorrow to formulate your future opinions.

        Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 8 Thumb down 14

        • Shanzuman

          JacksBack, what a fucking plonker of an indoctrinated gooner you are! What difference does it make where you watch the fucking game? We did not play that well and against a weak team could only just win the 3 points. The fact of the matter is we are not good enough, we are merely a mediocre side this season, so just accept it and shut the fuck up! We are not going to beat Spurs based on the way we played today so just dream on. I have said it before and will carry on saying it AW should resign gracefuly and we should go on to new pastures. Read the splendid writer’s analysis carefuly and try to understand the severity of our defending problems rather than attack the writer with negative biased rant that AW spins after each game. We are the true passionate fans that care about our club not irrelevant tossers like you!

          Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

        • Gooner Steve

          JacksBack

          If you don’t understand the two big pictures with the big circles to help you, you are a lost cause. I notice you haven’t actually debated any of the points I’ve made about no work ethic etc. This is because you ignore them, like you ignore anything bad said about Arsenal by ‘Spurs fans’ like me.

          I gave up my season ticket in the summer when I realised I was being treated like a mug by the board, paying the highest ticket price in the world to watch a team built to make profit, not win trophies. I would rather spend £1,000 a year on my daughter than give it to Kroenke.

          Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

      • will

        Defensive…..unlike our team :) COYG

        Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • Cabbie

      Spurs won’t beat West Ham? Nice prediction numb nuts. You’re not scared of Bale because you know nothin about football. That much is clear from your comments.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Ross

      Numpty. You’re one of those ‘if you don’t go to the games we don’t want you’ chumps, well guess what. The vast majority of supporters don’t go to the games, if they didn’t support the club then the club would be absolutely nowhere

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Melon Man

      Hey JacksBack, don’t you look like a dickhead now! Having a go at the writer for speaking what turned out to be the truth shows you up to be a blinkered idiot who knows nothing about football. Not only were you wrong but you had to be rude too – what a prick you are!

      Your prediction of being 3rd after the Spurs game was based on blind faith, not an analysis of Arsenal. Its muppets like you who keep Wenger in a job.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Swerve

    Top notch analysis. I started following arsenal because they were magnificent going forward. With guile, with pace and occasionaly with genius. I took BASIC defending for granted. But this team has no appetite for basic defending and the other aspects you cite so accurately. That undermines the teams ability to confidently go forward. And the predictable choreography of trying to break down a defence by attrition stems from having no concept of defence ourselves. I can see what AW sees and aooraevite that the talent is there – even in Ramsey – but poor defensive organisation and lack of trust/confidence means slow movement of the ball and in the end not enough movement. You just can’t build a team without the BASICS you refer to. No matter how good the manager or players. So get the defenders talking. Get Song back or similar. Then get two defenders who regard the conceding of a goal as criminal offence
    That really was a very good post. Thank you

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

    • Gooner Steve

      You’re welcome. I’m glad not everyone thinks that just because you raise valid concerns about the team it means you’re a Spurs fan!

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  6. Drop the whole team

    Yes absolutely. Walcott is a hopeless player. He has recently come of age and matured slightly. But he prances around as if he is TH14. He never tracks back. He never tackles. He never chases down opponents. This is a great waste of a player and a great waste of speed. Walcott epitomises the lack of pressing and any hard work in this squad.
    Then you have the great liability that is Diaby. His injuries have done more to disrupt this squad than anything else. Time to say goodbye.
    And Szxzxxny is too young.
    I would probably keep 5 players from this squad for next season. So much for Wenger’s prudent selection of players in the market. Where is the great signing Chamakh, Park, Santos and on and on. Certainly you need to jettison Diaby, Walcott and nearly everyone else. They are simply below standard.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 14 Thumb down 6

    • MrGooner

      Sorry mate but you’re no Arsenal fan, go support a different team

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

  7. JacksBack

    Classic case of a Spurs fan pretending to be an Arsenal Fan to write S*** on here.
    Get a life and girlfirend, you saddo!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 17

    • MrGooner

      Pretty petty to write that mate, we are all gooners, no point fighting cos we all want success for the club, we just have different understandings

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  8. MrGooner

    Gooner steve, do you read Arseblog, you should try something like him

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  9. terenggunner

    Reading between the lines it is pretty clear that you’re wishing throughout the match that either we lose or drop 2 points so that you can go shouting to others alike that AW should go. I’m sorry for you that our the boys disappointed you by beating Villa and I hope they’ll disappoint you further against Spurs this week.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  10. N7

    Hi I am so gutted Arsenal won I want us to lose so I am proven right.

    …or not.

    I tell you now, there is one reason and one reason alone why the board haven’t sacked AW…it’s because they know how much he has/has not had to spend. AW has earned the right to a season with the new kit deal cash and a steady platform to build a proper squad with.

    Judgements ahoy….yawn. If you had lives you’d stop treating Arsenal like a political party where you have a vote. People play a game wearing a shirt and if you want to cheer them on then buy a ticket and cheer.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  11. Melon Man

    So many idiots in here think if you win then everything is ok. the writer is spot on with his observations about the goal and how we don’t work hard enough defensively. Not ONE of you people slagging him off has pointed out where he is wrong about what he says (because he isn’t).

    Shame on you for being such blinkeredfans with nothing constructive to say. Good report by the way, don’t listen to the idiots.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  12. jamaica gooner

    Amazing how many naive footall “fans” we have writing here! Cant you really see the points steve gooner is making? we will not fare too good against better teams defending like that ! And yes i am a huge huge gunner fan!!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. Dom

    The Internet, where the supply of idiot’s soapboxes will never end! As part of the most useless and negative group of fans in world football we should worship goonersteve as a god. For he is the most negative and idiotic of us all! Goonersteve I salute you, and all you’re moronic words with ridiculous examples which ironically only illustrate how much of a moron you are. God bless my fellow arsenal “fans”

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  14. Dom

    The Internet, where the supply of idiot’s soapboxes will never end! As part of the most useless and negative group of fans in world football we should worship goonersteve as a god. For he is the most negative and idiotic of us all! Goonersteve I salute you, and all you’re moronic words with ridiculous examples which ironically only illustrate how much of a moron you are. God bless my fellow arsenal “fans”.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  15. Dom

    Your not you’re

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  16. Stuart Little

    Dom

    You’ve shown yourself to be the moron as you can’t even post a comment properly. Does the Internet confuse you? Ask mummy to help you next time.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    • Shanzuman

      HA,ha,ha,…………. good reply Stuart. And yes ‘Mr know it all Dom’ the writer is a ‘God’ for standing up for what every gooner should be doing and that is to be strong and united in voicing our concerns and getting our club back into the elite league of clubs!!

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. The BearMan

    Someone actually watched the game and presented an accurate feedback.

    Steve Bould cannot cover himself with much glory for the defense is simply awful. Arsene’s Army was lucky today, if we do not address this fast we will be shut down by the Spuds.

    Heard the under 18’s were slaughter – a problem it appears with defense again? Time for Arsenal to address the coaching or we will be going nowhere.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  18. Kartik

    Few points – Yes the example shown above is correct and theo should ve tracked back, but thats only 1 instance in the game which you ve pointed, there were many instances when Theo DID track back and help jenkinson out with agbonlahor which you have ignored.

    You talk a lot about our defensive side of the game which is not as strong as should be yet not as weak as you make it out to be, you talk about alex song yet he was one of the most frustrating DM ever for me, who suddenly day dreamt he was fabregas and would venture forward or hold on to the ball forever to make the last pass, he was a pathetic player and i am glad he left. Though Arteta is a great combative player, he does not have the legs to play against faster players and thats why our defence was being exposed to counter attacks also it was more to do with their style of play where they kept three players outside to counter during our corners which very few teams do, which could ve turned on them if we had scored from the corners we got. So your analysis as right as it is, it is also incomplete and hence flawed, and I am not gonna talk about bale, thats just dumb to be scared of that guy, for me hes a completely overrated player, i would rather be worried about dembele, anyway when it comes to spurs match skill,stamina,maturity all goes outta the window, its a game based on adrenaline and for me the most entertaining match of the year even more than classico may the best team win, which is us. COYG

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    • begeegs

      I have to agree with this one as well. I do remember Walcott (and Arteta) covering for Jenkinson when he went walkies to the LB position and stayed there for a good couple of minutes. However, in the instance in the blog is probably showing it as an example of team defending. Perhaps Walcott is being used slightly unfairly, but against Blackburn, he didn’t track back either and Blackburn then scored.

      Also agree about Song. He was a good player, but I do remember that last year, he would often abdicate defensive responsibility. As much as we moaned about it, it never changed. That should tell you something though – it should tell you that Wenger’s idea of Song was different to what position that we thought that he should play.

      I will add that I would be very surprised that the posters here can actually back up their own arguments about supporting Wenger from a tactical and footballing perspective. The blogger just gets abuse rather than any counter argument.

      Come on guys, let’s hear it!

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. astonvilla 64

    Villa in peace lads, there yesterday and can see the point teamspeak of your level would possibly done better than us on the break yesterday, Benteke was really poor yesterday, didnt like playing a player as big yesterday, and to be fair to the german played him really well. However my point is that iff it was a better team thanks us and remember ones of the worst away goals scoring records in the league, would aresenal been as gun ho? im dont think so. Im dont think there is anything in the league for you to worry about, posatives, your new left back, wiltshire class apart, corzola. Im still think you will be top 4, but must admit seeing your teams for over 40 years your only a couple of top plyers from challenging again. good luck for the rest of the season and hope this great fixtures cant continue, fingers crossed

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. naked goon

    nice bit of circling dude.
    the thing is, if we had racing boy tracking back and pressing Weismann, then Jenks doesn’t get caught, so no balls up for Chesney. Clean sheet, therefore, confidence grows.
    so many of our conceded goals come directly from mistakes, but the lack of work ethic does not count as a mistake that leads to a goal.it would be good to go over every goal conceded and see why it came about and who was responsible. We have two from Walcott in a week. A guy who could catch anyone.
    rectifying the two issues is all that is necessary to produce a team capable of challenging for the title.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0