Let’s be realistic about Sunday’s embarrassment faced by Arsenal against Aston Villa. It was a mauling! A comprehensive whopping where the Gunners displayed zero quality or resilience. The Gunners were awful and not one player avoided the considerable negative attention of fans and critics.
I couldn’t remember a more insipid performance from a Gunners side, perhaps, because my memory is selective or there hasn’t been one as bad for a very long time. Pity those poor souls that paid to watch this torturous excuse of a game on PPV, as a rampant Aston Villa gave Arsenal the football equivalent of a wedgie at the Emirates.
The only glimmer of hope for the Gunners is that no one side looks capable of romping away with the Premier League. Leicester, Everton, Villa, and Southampton have topped the league. Liverpool and Manchester City aren’t looking dominant or remotely like the sides that won the Premier League with ease in previous years.
In terms of the Arsenal vs Aston Villa match, I’m thankful I couldn’t attend because the boos would probably still be ringing in my ears, and in the cold light of day, the result feels even worse than it did that evening. It felt a bit like the end of the Emery era, such was the lack of desire and integrity that the poor showing made an ordinary Villa look like Real Madrid.
In general, the Emirates is proving to be a bogey ground for the home side. Visitors will be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a trip to North London and this defeat will now increase the pressure, the Gunners meet Leeds (A) and Wolves (H) next.
Mikel Arteta took the blame for this fiasco but the players should be looking into the mirror to judge their highly overpaid selves. So what happens now? Nothing really. The feud between Mesut Ozil and the club has pretty much sabotaged any creative threads we had and the failure to buy Aouar from Lyon looks like a monumental mistake.
The international break is now the pause button that Arteta needs to sort this side out, with far too many underperforming. With Partey out for a spell, Mikel Arteta needs to look at tearing this side apart to put some ambition and pride back.
Personally, I’d suggest that Willian and Pepe take an extended holiday and that Reiss Nelson be given a sustained run. Neither has made a lasting impression and now’s not the time to continue with this failed rotational experience.
I’d also be looking to offload Lacazette, he does a lot of good work but he’s in the side to score goals and he doesn’t do that enough. If Martinelli’s fit, then I’d get him in a central role as soon as possible or flip him with Aubameyang. No more – Pas plus.
Saliba needs to come into the side to relieve Rob Holding of his place. I like Holding, but he only has one gear and is too often caught flat-footed in defence. He’s susceptible to the high ball, can’t deal with the pace and his positional awareness is flawed.
Dani Ceballos hasn’t shown enough to stay at Arsenal. At best, he’s average and you can see why Real Madrid were extremely happy to loan him out. Yes, he’s young, but he hasn’t shown enough invention or quality for Arsenal to spend £35m in the summer.
Xhaka, who transformed from ‘Misunderstood to Most Important‘, also needs to move on, he’s too static, too one-dimensional, and lacks any quality, especially in defence. His ability to attack is in short, unconvincing bursts and in truth, he was never the solution regardless of who was alongside him.
There’s much to consider but before you jump on the “Arteta out” bandwagon, there’s not a manager who could do more with this current crop of players. Arsenal need reinforcements but more than that, they need spirit and goals. It appears both are hard to come by on the evidence of the Arsenal vs Aston Villa game.