(Comments about dustbins added by the Untold editorial team who seemingly have a fixation about them)
The last time we met Villa – scandalous officiating aside – we lacked the sharpness our game needed. The rustiness that comes from a period of non-competitive football, affects a precise team more than it does a rough one. And Villa profited for it.
The result sparked unrest. Angry YouTube videos appeared; disgruntled comments besieged blog posts– which if believed, spoke of the coming revolution. People were restless. As restless as people sitting at computers, discussing football could ever be. King Arsene XVI wasn’t executed, but he was given a stern talking to. Dustbins were filled with only just paid for season ticket swipe cards. And all this, if believed, singlehandedly forced him to sign Ozil.
All power to the people who forced the change upon the unwilling oligarch (even if they were no longer able to gain entrance to the stadium because they had thrown away their digital season tickets).
Since then we have continued to challenge for a league we had no right to challenge for, with countless “real tests” along the way. Tonight, on our 85th “real test” (of the season) we play the Villans!
The last time I watched Villa, I wished I hadn’t. Content to concede ‘The Lion’s share’ of possession (whatever that might be?) and then run like lunatics, they somehow made Fulham look good. Which isn’t easy these days. Berbatov, as you might expect, didn’t press the Villa defence, which strangely worked against Villa.
Villa are one of the most one-paced teams I can remember. Everything has to be done at the fastest speed possible. A speed where it is impossible to think…
When they are required to play a slower, more considered game, they struggle. The ball ebbs back and forth unconvincingly, until invariably one of them gets pissed off and boots it long – into the channels for Agbonglahor, or into the air for Benteke to miraculously bring down.
Benteke has had some rough press lately – with some diagnosing the notorious “Second Season Syndrome”. I wouldn’t go that far, I would call it “Playing with Idiots Syndrome”. And it is a ghastly affliction. Last season his form was such that he could be playing with 10 walnuts and he’d still have given a good account of himself. Teams are now more aware of his capabilities and therefore keep a closer eye on him. The way he played last season was impossible to replicate and when he needed his team mates to raise their level – they didn’t. Form is fleeting. A big team has enough good players to fill the vacuum that comes from a loss of form.
Anyway, I’m not worried about tonight’s game. The Villa fans I know are a pessimistic bunch and are convinced this game is over already. Losing Vlaar apparently cripples their defence and without Kozak, they will be less able to finish the game with a long-ball flourish.
I make the team as follows
Sagna Per Koscielny Monreal
Cazorla Ozil Gnabry
I’d prefer Arteta to Flamini, as he is more adventurous in possession. The Ox is back, though I expect he is lacking match fitness. Gnabry is one of our more direct players, so might be suited to a game like this. Giroud will be fresh…
Cheers, enjoy the game.
Footnote: In the last 14 games at Villa Park between Aston Villa and Arsenal, Aston Villa have won 0, seven have been drawn, and Arsenal have won seven.
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