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July 2021

Arsenal v Villa. The team, the analysis, the result, and kick off isn’t until tomorrow

Dominic Sanchez Cabello

Right! It’s here again and it has come just in time for me not to be diagnosed clinically insane: Arsenal – Aston Villa at Home.

First things first: the Villains are an odd outfit and are not to be taken lightly. They are the sort capable of winning 3-1 at Anfield (albeit not so impressive these days), smashing Stoke away, thrashing Sunderland 6-1 and after all of that still finish 15th – as such God knows what to expect… perhaps even He doesn’t.

They remind me of Arsenal’s mid-table brother and their season paralleled ours. It started sluggishly; they grew in confidence, a few impressive results and a strong finish.

As Arsenal fans we are aware of what a new season can offer a young team. A good preseason can work wonders for young players seeking a breakthrough. It provides time to address physical weaknesses without fear of exhaustion. Aside from these physical benefits, there are the less measurable effects it can have in rejuvenating team confidence. If confidence is too obscure-a-concept, then you can at least appreciate the advantages to navigating a transfer window unscathed – as both teams have.

I believe they will have a much better season than last. Their preseason results seem to verify this inkling, with the 3-2 win over Malaga catching the eye. The Villains normally rely on Benteke for their inspiration and this game was no different. Two goals, including a fine solo effort, where he bumped the Malaga centre-back about 2 meters off the pitch and rounded the keeper (worth a watch if you can find it).

Villa have been busy in the transfer market:

  • Jores Okore – centre-back expected to replace the disappointing Ron Vlaar
  • Nicklas Helenius – tall number 10 like Berbatov
  • Leandro Bacuna  – versatile young dutch midfielder
  • Antonio Luna – lively Spanish left back
  • Aleksander Tonev – Bulgarian winger recommended by previous captain Stiliyan Petrov.

I have watched none of these men, but have it from a Villain friend (yes, I have them) that “we’ll be talking about them at the end of this season, as we did Benteke at the end of last”. That’s probably just blind optimism.

A few lines on Benteke, as he is a player who doesn’t come around too often… (Saying that, Belgium somehow produced two in the same generation. Bloody Belgium…) (Sorry Walter).

Benteke is often hailed as the new Drogba and it is a largely fair comparison; though, when Drogba was 22 he was playing for Le Mans in Ligue 2. Benteke at 22 is carrying a Premier League team, starting for this Belgium Golden Generation and is worth around £30million. Also, considering ‘target men’ tend to peak around 30 he has many years left to develop.

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Conclusion: use Suarez money to buy Benteke – appeasing the more reputable fans and alleviating Villa’s attacking threat in time for Saturday – Two birds with one large wad of cash.

Seriously though, I’m not worried and neither should you be.

You will notice when watching Villa, that Benteke is always offside. You will also notice, that when Villa are starved of the ball he will resemble a frustrated wanderer. This tendency to lose hope, presumably at the sight of Fabian Delph, is something periods of prolonged Arsenal possession can exploit.  Additionally the renaissance of our beloved offside trap can only help things.

I believe we’ll play 4-3-3, with a team that can freely retain possession.


                   Gibbs                         Koz                   Per                  Sagna/Jenko                    


 Wilshere                      Rosicky

 Cazorla/ox                  Podolski/Giroud                           Walcott

Cazorla travelled to Ecuador in the week so will probably be weary. Arteta is rumoured to be out for 6 weeks and though hasn’t verified it – it is widely accepted. Sagna’s ankle injury is less reported, but again, it could be true. The first half in Helsinki, Wenger opted for Podolski up top. Giroud is on form, but perhaps this game demands a more agile striker?

Koscielny, who is scandalously underrated, will be key today as his speed can frustrate Benteke. Engaging him in a straight-up physical duel is pointless, as Chris Smalling so beautifully demonstrated.

Koscielny is one of those defenders who over the course of a match can turn his opponent into a dejected mess. His speed allows him to play an extremely aggressive game. Whereas Per needs to be measured and impeccably positioned, Koz can take risks and still hope to recover.

Things don’t always work and one can generally gauge whether he is “on it” from his first encounter. If he wins the ball outright, in that swift manner we’ve grown accustomed, the striker will more than likely be on edge for the rest of the game – such are the effects of being shadowed by someone who is faster than you.

Look out for Koscielny dashing in front of the striker today, or his interceptions in general – there will be many.

I’m expecting Ramsey to be influential today. After dodging a pointless international friendly he should be fresh and ready. His preseason form has been remarkable and he finally seems to have recovered the tenacity and conviction he had pre-snapped-leg.

A comfortable Arsenal Win, nothing too outlandish: 5-1, perhaps?

PS: If you are going to the match, don’t forget to buy a programme.  The Arsenal History Society ( has a page each match, once again.

Coming shortly: How to stand the psychological strain of the new season.  Dr Billy McGraw reports from the North Circular Road Hospital, Enfield.

Arsenal Anniversaries: 16 August

The books…

The sites from the same team…

43 comments to Arsenal v Villa. The team, the analysis, the result, and kick off isn’t until tomorrow

  • Dominic thanks for that man by you have not included if the sewer rats will be watching this one. Up the Gunners

  • Zigzag

    I like your score prediction. I like your blog a lot. It is so refreshing to have an intelligent Arsenal blog for a change. So the season is about to commence, yippeee!!
    I’m feeling excited despite the heralded transfers that failed to materialise. Our boys played very well against Citeh and I have a feeling we will see some signings come end of the transfer window. COYG!

  • eliphas

    Comment deleted as it had nothing to do with the article

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice , would like us to keep a clean sheet to start off .

  • Paul the Gooner

    We must all get behind the team.I do believe we have enough to win,however, my big fear is if we go behind or struggle.AW will not know what has hit him.The media has stoked this up and will continue to do so.The next 3 weeks will be the biggest test AW has had as an Arsenal Manager.Massive.
    Keep positive.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Would like to see a fast tempo performance, no injuries and an early Arsenal goal to get all of the stadium – except the Vaiil fans – in full support of the team. Two or three nil to Arsenal, but one nil has a nice kind of ring to it as well.


  • Dom

    A nice positive read for a change, you’d think we were in complete meltdown and disarray if you read the papers each day as i do, well i can’t wait for the new season to start and i’ll go for a more conservative 3-0 win.COYG

  • Dominic,

    First of all, Happy New Season 🙂

    I hope to FSM that your prediction comes to pass. A virtual pint of Guiness from me to each and every positive Untolders if it does!

    A 2 or 3 nil victory will be fine for me. Like Brickfields, I hope for a clean sheet.

    I am hoping for a vitory, any victory tomorrow.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The ref is Anthony Taylor, assisted by H Lennard, and M McDonough with A D’Urso as fourth official.
    We won all three of the games he officiated for us last season despite the usual levels of refereeing bias. On the plus side he seems to dislike Villa as much – an offside hat-trick by the Skunk giving United a three nil win in April.
    He also did the Napoli v Porto game in the Emirates Cup which to me had some odd decisions.
    He can have a good day though as in the Norwich v Untied game in November where Walter’s review team gave him a perfect score so I’ll just hope for a repeat of that rather than the 5*% he got in the February Sunderland v Arsenal game when Sunderland should have been down to nine men.

  • Mick

    Sorry Bootoomee but what does FSM stand for.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    From the Medical Division of UA – 6 of the best from

    1)Without knowing the cause of illness, any treatment must be considered a guess.

    2)Isnt it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do ‘practice?’ George Carlin .

    3)After you find out all the things that can go wrong, your life becomes less about living and more about waiting.
    Chuck Palahniuk

    4)An apple a day keeps the doctor away, But if the doctor is cute forget the fruit… Unknown
    ( Is that Miss ,Miz or Mrs. Unknown ? Oh…doh !)

    5)I went to see my doctor with a nasty pain in the ass. Turns out he’s already met my wife.

    6)A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctors book. Unknown .
    ( You again !)

    And with that I bid all of you Arsenalholics a goodnight and a great season ahead .
    Up the Gunners !

  • WalterBroeckx

    I hope that the real Arsenal supporters get behind the team from the first till the last minute.
    Victoria concordia crescit. That is the only way forward.

    For those wanting us to lose to prove their point: go away as you are not worth to support the Arsenal. No real supporter will want their team to lose a game to prove their point. You are then only a supporter of your own ideas. But don’t call yourself a Gooner then as you are not worthy being one.

  • Shard

    My worries for tomorrow are injuries, the referee, and a midfield of Ramsey and Wilshere. But it is only Villa (not to underestimate them) and not a top quality side, so maybe the last bit will be fine.

    Like other’s I’d like a clean sheet to go along with the victory tomorrow. I hope we will play some good passing, attacking football, that we’ll win, and that our players will get through unscathed in terms of injury or suspensions. I can’t believe the season starts tomorrow.

  • Matt Clarke

    Dominic – thanks for the preview and the insight into Villa’s line-up.

    @Walter…”For those wanting us to lose to prove their point…you are … only a supporter of your own ideas” – Spot on matey!

  • Armin

    If we lose it will be “I told you so”, if we win 2-1, 3-2 or so it will “This team cant keep clean sheet”, if we beat them 10-0 it will be “Hey its only Villa”. So how ever someone will find reason to complain. From my point of view even 0,5-0 will do a job.

  • Lamia

    post deleted as it had nothing much to do with the topic in the article

  • OMGArsenal

    Will definitely be worth a watch and despite all the AAA’s and Red Top Phd’s predicting a poor start, we have what it takes after seeing AFC versus City. I know Wenger has a few surprises lined up in the transfer market and no doubt we,ll be seeing reinforcements coming in before Sept.2nd. I do hope we see more of Gnabry,Zalelem and others as well.

  • Rufusstan

    @ Bootoomee Have not heard of the FSM in a few years (assuming you mean the FLying Spaghetti Monster).

    As far as the team goes, pretty much agree. Wouldn’t risk Santi, but put him on the bench, Move Poldi to the left and OX on the bench as well. Again not risk Sagna unless he is 100%. Jenks is more than good enough for Villa 🙂

  • Arun

    Finally some meaningful football to put a temporary end to the transfer nonsense. I am confident that we have what it takes to beat Villa at home and will do so.
    I think Santi has to start just because he is suspended for the Fenerbahce away and will get a week’s time before Fulham away.

  • para

    Team looks strong. The only worry i have is that the team is not big enough now if we get injuries. But i can’t see that AW is going to leave it like that. Looks like Frimpong is back and i hope he goes a season without injuries, AW must think he will. Arteta injury gives him a chance to prove himself again, good luck Frimpong, time to step up and be the beast we know you can be. Seems like the core of the team is there, and now the new players from youth team are getting a chance to step up before January. Hope we get no serious injuries, especially as CL qualifiers are just around the corner, get through that and we will for sure get new players in jan.
    Anyway looking forward to Sat.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I don’t know how fit Frimpong is after his severe injury last season. He has done both his knees now I think and wasn’t on the tour because not completely fit.
    I don’t think he has played one minute at all since the start of training so don’t know if he can actually play. If he is fit I sure would give him his chance. He will play his heart out that is for sure. But then he has to keep his head cool…

  • Mick & Rufusstan,

    Yes, FSM means Flying Spaghetti Monster. It is the comical deity of atheists. I am a proud atheist.

  • SA Gunner

    This transfer window has been a massive disappointment. The promise throughout the club at the end of the Newcastle game, the picture of unity, the celebration, absolutely heart warming.

    No Walter, I dont want my team to lose tomorrow, I want them to win and I want them to do their best. The reality is, and Untold REFUSE to mention this, is that this team is not good enough to bring much needed silverware to the club.

    I will always love Arsenal but I know my Arsenal is severely under performing. I will never accept that and will be at odds with Wenger until he changes the situation or leaves. It seems the latter is far more likely.

    Prove me wrong Arsene, you have 17 days. If not I think its time for you to go.

  • Injuries are always a major source of worry for ALL teams. It is a reality that we just have to deal with. I hope that mother luck smiles at us this season. I think we’ve paid enough for that mugging of Man United in ’05. It’s about time she opens a new account for us 🙂

    If we are fortunate injury-wise, I think our main team will do wonders season. At this very moment, however, I am not so worried.

    I am pretty certain, going by what AW has been saying and which the AAA have sadly refused to hear, we are definitely getting some additions by month end. Arsene always sounds so certain when he says it in press conferences. I totally believe him but not because I am an AKB; I believe him because he has explicitly said that the depth of the team is not enough for the season. Because players are not signed over 2 weeks period, I feel very strongly that our additions are already in place with just a few background work being done to confirm them.

    I feel so confident about our additions and I hope people will please stop qualifying our chances this season with that condition. It is definitely going to happen.

  • Rufusstan

    By the way Dominic, something was driving me nuts about the team layout, to the point my brain was screaming at me.

    I just realized it was nothing to do with the players, but I am so used to top down formations, that somewhere I was going — ‘but it is all backwards!’

    Makes no difference, but its strange what sets you off.

  • Stroller

    Not wanting to put the mockers on tomorrow’s game, but if you remember it was Villa who spoiled the party in 2006 at the first game at the Emirates. It finished 1-1 with Gilberto getting a late equalizer.

    There are always a few strange results in early season games with unfancied clubs often making the better starts. The problem for us right now is that with confidence and morale apparently so low with many fans, anything but a win and convincing performance will be seen as an indicator of what’s ahead for the rest of the season.

    Villa finished last season a much improved side, so 5-1 seems highly optimistic, but you never know. So as long as it’s a win the pessimists can’t create much of a stink and that’s what I’m hoping for.

  • Shard


    You might think I’ve been living under a rock all this time, but I had never heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster before. Hilariously brilliant.

  • After going through today’s training pictures ( I get the impression that:

    – Zelalem
    – Gnabry
    – Frimpong

    Are at the moment part of the first team. I think Zee and Gnabry have earned their place in the first team by their pre-season performances. I hope Frimpong stays fit and justify the faith that many Gooners have always had in him.

    It’s now less than 20 hours to go now. Come on You Gunners!!!

  • Mick

    It’s a new one on me as well. I thought at first Bootoomee meant ‘Female Seeks Male’ as you often see in the lonely hearts column!
    I will say this quietly in case I rouse the trolls but it is very peaceful on Untold today unlike the last few days of civil war.

  • WalterBroeckx

    enough was enough 😉

  • Thanks for reading everyone and apologies I didn’t reply earlier… just seen it.

    Cheers Bootoome and Happy new season to you all!

    Agreed Walter, though I’d like an explanation as to why Belgium are producing so many cracking players at the moment?!

    Shard – sterling peformance earlier (on Tony’s article), but you might as well have been debating with a walnut! Don’t waste your time. 🙂

    Rufusstan, yeah I must admit, something didn’t seem quite right about it.

  • Mick,

    I think the peace is due to Tony coming down really hard on the provocateurs. Let’s hope that we have a good win tomorrow. That will keep them further away.

  • Florian

    I was going to comment on the right-to-left layout, but Rufus beat me to it. Still, wouldn’t that confuse the hell out of Villa? Just saying:)

  • sukebe

    Hell yeah…

    I hope We get a Clean sheet, so i can sleep well afterwards..

    #dancinglikeaboss# #cantsleepwaitingthekickoff# #okayiknowthisisnottwitter# #heyima5yowhatdoyouexpect# #biggrin#

  • Shard


    Honestly, FSM = Female Seeks Male is also a new one on me 😀

  • Stuart

    What about Fetishist Seeks Mancunian?

  • Rufusstan

    OK. — Apologies Tony as its off topic, but its been mentioned a few times.

    I remember when the Flying Spaghetti monster first appeared (being a scientist and working in education).

    In a few states of the US, there were people who wanted schools to stop teaching Evolution and teach a thing called intelligent design (religious based ideas) instead. The only way to push it through was to say that Evolution was just a theory rather than any kind of proven science.

    The idea was that it meant they then could force science teachers to teach alternative theories; like Intelligent design (basically creationism) as well (or instead).

    A guy called Bobby Henderson came up with the idea of the FSM as a parody of intelligent design, but basically told the authorities that this was just as good a theory as the others. If the changes happened he’d take them to court if they did not teach about the FSM as well.

    The situations in Ohio and Kansas went away and I thought that was it, but people have taken up the idea and built on it, and there are a bunch of Pastafarians out there. (Its still not really serious, but a fun idea)

  • Rufusstan,

    Love your breakdown. Factual and straight to the point. Wish I could do the same using as few words.

    It’s interesting that you are a scientist working in education. I am an Engineer (applied scientist) working as an educator. I’m not surprised though because your logic is always impeccable; a common trait of us scientists 🙂

  • Rufusstan

    @Bootoomee Heh, Now I’m going to blush.

    The thing I loved about the whole situation was that it was a typically scientific solution — the Reductio ad absurdum.

    ‘OK you want us to do something that will make us all look stupid. Right, lets push it to the logical extreme and show you just how stupid this will get.’

  • Canadian Gooner

    Great to see that rather than trying to defend your ridiculous belief that our manager can do no wrong, you instead are selectively deleting comments that are too strongly opposed to your view. A lot of these comments have nothing to do with the article, yet only a couple are deleted. You have now resorted to censorship in dogmatic and cult like defence of Wenger. Well done.

    As for tomorrow, I don’t hope that we lose. I would like nothing better than for this club to win every single match this season. But I highly doubt that we will even be able to make the top 4 without serious reinforcements. There is no excuse for the lack of progress on this front, while teams we consider to be smaller clubs have been adding quality players. I place the blame for this squarely on Wenger. There is still some time left, but it never should have gotten to this point.

    The team should be able to get a result tomorrow. If they don’t, I fear the fans (or at least the fans of the club, not the cult of Wenger) will react very strongly. I don’t predict a lopsided score, probably closer to 3-1. Here’s hoping for an injury free win. Cheers.

  • Stuart

    I think (hope) it is 100% plausible what Adam said re the TMS and the possibility that our deals are already done deals but not yet on the TMS (to avoid hijacking) so that’s the only delay. If not, although I’ll be disappointed, it wont stop my support of Arsenal – the shame of being associated with the boo boys is likely to alienate me though.

  • Stuart

    Apparently Wenger said (according to le grove “There are 18 days to go, so that is a long time in the transfer market and we will be active. I cannot certify what the number [of players coming in will be], but we will be active until the end, that is for sure.”

    Maybe the clue is in we will be active until the end

  • canadian gooner

    “Secret signings”, meaning we’ve already successfully bid for a player and are simply just “tying up loose ends” or “keeping it under wraps”, are extremely unlikely. What would happen if the player in question were to get injured in a friendly? Suddenly the deal collapses? Furthermore, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to get the player into the squad as soon as possible, so they can adjust to the new teammates, tactics, etc.? The bottom line is that we have not signed anyone. If we had, they would have been presented to us in an Arsenal kit by now.