Arsenal came back from behind twice to scrape past Aston Villa at the Emirates on Sunday night. The Gunners managed to grasp a 3-2 win against Aston Villa while playing with 10 men in the second half and last few minutes of the first half.
For those that follow my blogs, they will know what I think about the statistic of possession. It’s a worthless figure that is always superseded by goals and it has been that way since forever.
So if anyone uses possession in reference to this get of out jail performance, please feel free to object on the grounds that the use of possession in reference to a game of football is entirely shit !
Let’s briefly appease those who swear by it’s usefulness by simply saying that Arsenal enjoyed lots of the ball at the Emirates for large parts of their encounter with Aston Villa.
Arsenal were obviously on a high after a satisfying midweek win in the Europa League but perhaps, that was the problem.
Meanwhile, their midlands opponents were more like an exuberant puppy, fuelled with enthusiasm at the thought of jumping up at their opponent and inadvertently pushing them on the train tracks. You could almost sense a fair amount of joyous tail wagging.
The big story was Unai Emery’s inclusion of Bukayo Saka, who was spectacular during the week and it was even better news for me for predicting it.
There was some nice stuff from the gunners early on, but you expected that this could be a long afternoon for the assembled Arsenal defenders because it always is. They are like a tiny fishing boat with no engine or compass which is about to head into the storm and for Maitland Niles, the gloom would soon engulf him.
Aston Villa started to exploit Kolasinac’s limitations on the left and anyone thinking this man can stand in for Kieran Tierney must have been watching the game from a helicopter.
The action started early in what was to become a compelling roller coaster ride with Heaton thwarting Aubameyang twice within minutes, the first from a header and the second from a shot.
Then in reply, Villa’s McGinn extracted a save from Bernd Leno at around the 10 minute mark and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
With the warning lights on, Maitland Niles was booked (11) for a typical midfielders tackle on El Ghazi, but it wouldn’t be his last card.
Then it was the turn of the pesky McGinn, who popped up again (20) to give Aston Villa the lead as Arsenal switched off defensively. They obviously ignored his first attempt and perhaps thought they could keep pushing their luck.
They couldn’t, 0-1.
Saka nearly got Arsenal level, but his long range shot fizzed wide of the top corner. It would have been the stuff of headlines for the 18-year-old.
Captain Vanilla (Xhaka) got another pointless yellow for a stupid challenge on Jack Grealish (34), just another example of restricted blood flow to the brain, which is something the Swiss midfielder specialises in.
His eventual withdrawal was greeted as if he had scored a hat trick, the midfielder made no comment or gesture that I could see but he must see the exit door coming into focus.