If there is any man no Arsenal fan would want to see smile, then it’s Alex McLeish. The man who spoilt the party for Arsenal last season at the Wembley in the Carling cup final was here again, this time round with a different outfit in the name of Aston Villa. The tears and sorrow that compounded the gunners faithful hearts that day’s evening was something not even me, a neutral football fan would want to see ever again, but Arsenal sure proved their worth and walked out outright winners this time round.
Leading two up at half time, Villa were on course to a memorable win at the Emirates and Wenger was therefore on course to another bad day in the office, taking into account he has not won the last three matches in the league. Dunne the former Everton man opened the goal scoring for Villa and when Darren Bent the English international put in the back of the net a poorly saved shot from Fabianski, you felt it was all over for Arsenal. Boos and exits at halftime from the Gunners faithful did little to give the team some morale heading into the dressing room.
Whatever happened at half time in the dressing room is something I don’t want to speculate. Arsenal is rarely known to bounce back when they trail by such a margin and this was a true test of their character and strength. Arsenal attacked from the onset once or twice testing Shay given the ex City number one. When Per’s header beat Given and was saved by a defender off the line, you had a feeling Arsenal were just getting back to this but three goals in 45 minutes was unimaginable for most fans.
Ramsey for sure has come under fire in recent time for his performances but credit to him for the first penalty, a clear goal scoring opportunity and Dunne sent him to the floor. A well struck penalty by RvP and still trailing, the belief was creeping back. In football, you create your own luck and true to this, Walcott did exactly that. A typical Walcott run on the corner line was deflected back to him and into the goal leveling the scores, a stunned Villa side now seemed to be crumbling, and crumbling more.
The third goal albeit controversial, proved to be the final nail on Villa’s coffin. Kolscielny made a strange run into the box and taking into account that Bent who was marking him didn’t get the ball, the referee gave the penalty, one that was gladly dispatched this time round the opposite way from the first one to give Arsenal a deserved lead for the first time on the match. From then on, Arsenal kept possession but once in a while were threatened by poor goalkeeping from Fabianski.
All in all, even though Arsenal managed to win, a lot more is still expected from the likes of Ramsey and Walcott. The duo seem to be having confidence issues when in or around the box. Bent once again proved to be an asset for his team, his goal, a typical poachers strike. Alex McLeish a former defender himself, should change his style of football if he’s to win anything at Aston Villa, it’s this style of play that condemned Birmingham to the second tier of the English game. Another day for Wenger to breathe easy but the problems at Arsenal are still far from over especially at the defense, taking into account Vermelen’s re-occurring injury despite Sagna’s return. The strike force still depends too much on the Dutchman and a support striker should be brought in before the window closes or else the old ‘next season’ story shall continue. Sunderland or Middlesbrough should not be easy to face, taking into account it shall be away and the best of form should be shown, in case Arsenal plan to win the F.A title.
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