Away to The Villans| Match Preview|”Playing with Idiots Syndrome”


(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          

                                     Wilshere           Arteta

                 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.

See also

The Books

Books on Arsenal at a discount

48 Replies to “Away to The Villans| Match Preview|”Playing with Idiots Syndrome””

  1. So we have Gnabry possibly playing, and Germany even suggesting that they might pick him for the World Cup, we have the Ox back on the bench, and probably by the Fulham game next weekend we have Gibbs and Ramsey back.

    And in the team above there’s no place for Flamini. Or Podolski. Or Rosicky.

    So where are we going to put this new striker everyone is on about?

    And I tell you what. If I was playing in the Villa defence and I had Ozil, Cazorla and Gnabry coming at me from midfield, I’d be, well, running in the opposite direction.

    OK that’s because I am no good as a footballer, but you know what I mean.

    Or maybe not.

    (Sorry we still haven’t got the site headings back properly. Still working on it).

  2. Enjoyable read.I feel that The Arsenal’s very decent form this season,has been down to the fact that we have very good competition for most positions in the team,so it naturally follows Tony,that “this striker” will play in Giroud’s place,if he was ever to unfortunately get injured.The options we have to replace him are not good enough and we need someone to share his workload.Arsene admitted today that Giroud was tired,2 weeks ago and we do not want him to suffer from a fatigue and injury,due to us not having a decent replacement.In my opinion Bendtner,Sanogo and Podolski are not decent centre forward options.Let’s hope for a very decent win tonight with no injuries.

  3. Lets get the 3points folks.,igot the ox &prince’podi in the bench.i cant complain…Gooner 4life

  4. Lets get the 3points folks..About the new addition!Igot the ox n prince podi so cant’complain…Go gunners

  5. Gianni Dioro,

    That story was presented in a sensationalist manner. It is not as serious that. The payment is not based on just Arsenal’s win but part of an accumulation of other result.

    25 of 29 results like Arsenal win today have already taken place thereby resulting the bookies having to ALREADY payout a lot. An Arsenal win will increase the amount but it is not responsible for the £25 million payout being quoted in the story.

    I am just trying to calm some nerves as I was worried before I read the story too. I know that refs are usually against us but if we take the game to Villa and cover our back well, we’ll win today. I’ll happily take any kind of victory with all players finishing the game in good health.

  6. Dom,
    Good write up as always, we should be ok to beat villa as they are a team that is set up to counter. But they can’t always play that way at home or their fans will start grumbling. Let’s just hope Swarbrick does a good job.

    Not sure I understand what you’re saying but yes, the bookies will face a nightmare if we do win. Accumulators are only paid in the even that all the 29 results turn out as predicted by the punter. So if 28 are correct, and one is incorrect, then the bookies don’t pay out. What the write is trying to say, or what i think I understand from this, is that punters always tend to go with the favorites, and in this case(this weekend)all the favoured teams won their matches. usually an upset or a very much unexpected result will stop bookies from making any huge payouts…..
    Anyway, enough of this gambling nonsense(I don’t gamble myself, and from the little I ‘know’ about you I don’t think you gamble too, so we both could have misunderstood this), and here’s to wishing the team all the best tonight:)

  7. Oh dear, too many spelling mistakes in my last post. I’m starting to spell like that other AAA who was claimig they were educated to masters level to UK standards, time to up my game now 🙂

  8. One thing that’s causing me some slight concern(apart from the ref obviously) is that while it’s been dry the last couple of days here in the Midlands (at least where I live) rain started falling this evening. Our quick passing game is more suited to dry conditions….

  9. AL,

    I think you called it right. Especially the bit about me not being a gambling man. I most definitely isn’t. You are also right about the meaning of the article. Although if they have 25 out of 29 then Arsenal’s victory is not the all in all that the story portray it to be.

    Looking forward to a great game and an injury free victory for us tonight.

  10. Absolutely right about that Bootoomee, I noticed the 25 out of 29 also and thought what exactly are they trying to say here. Glad I got the bit about your not being a gambling man correct 🙂 Funny how interacting on here helps give you an impression of what someone is bound to be like even though you never met them. Well, mostly true when it’s interacting with honest individuals anyway, rather than those who have multiple personalities, who say one thing but mean something else….

    Anyway, let’s hope we thump villa tonight.

  11. The search box is currently near the bottom of the left column. Have no idea why.

    Gnabry starts. Arteta injured, so Flamini in. ox on the bench, but then so is Park!

  12. @Tony

    Probably one of your CSS is missing. You can have multiple CSS involved in styling any element, so one CSS does one thing, another CSS over-rides (or adds to) what a previous one had done, and so on.


    I think I seen that Sanogo was also almost fit, but not enough for today.


  13. Great to see Swarbrick correctly booking a Villa player for a poor 1st minute challenge on Wilshere.

  14. Yes, good call from the ref, or it’d have set the tone for worse things to come.

    Completely Offtopic, but I’d rather Ribery won it if it wasn’t going to be Messi than that cheating, diving scumbag. Sorry, don’t wish to start a debate but I just to let it off my chest.

  15. Wish I was watching the game. That must have been quite the shot that Gnabry put on Baker! Knocked him unconscious according to the Beeb.

  16. Great first half. Poor pundictry from SS3 (Nigeria). They kept talking about what AVilla did not do rather than talking about what Arsenal is doing. In fact, they are more interested in Avilla comeback than anything. Shame on the media and their pundicts. 3 points for the Arsenal! COYGS

  17. Sickening elbow into Rosicky’s nose, not even called a free kick. I’ve seen reds given for that, and hope the spineless FA will do something about it this time.

  18. Refereeing sort of ok. No glaring mistakes, apart from the Rosicky elbow. But loads of calls for Villa handballs ignored – including Benteke controlling an effort on goal with his arm.

    AFC a good team. Wilshere loses possession a lot in midfield. Giroud is ok, but can be quite lame. Monreal looked very good. Cazorla good but has some numbnut moments.

    Half way through january.

  19. Well done Arsenal. But I want to see what the FA does about the agbonlahor elbow, that’s gbh and should result in a jail sentence.

  20. We did make that difficult for ourselves didn’t we?

    In the end though, the team did what they had to. Great to be back where we belong:


    Bring on Fulham on Saturday.

  21. Don’t know what it is with Sky since our game v city but I counted 5 offside decisions against Arsenal today, yet they only replayed one; an obvious one where Jack was at least a couple of yards offside.

  22. A vital three points and well done to the team, but we made that more nervy than maybe we had to . In the second half we gave the ball away a bit too much, maybe we missed MAs calm head a bit in the second half.but still, up against a physical team hitting long balls in to a big striker, not long ago, we may not have had three points from that game.
    Think we will be sharper in the next game over the full ninety mins after our mini break.
    Hope the injured players are ok, agree with Al on The elbow to TR bet they get away without retrospective action there. Hope Monreal ok too.
    But still, we are top of the league, we have so far exceeded the expectations of most, that’s what matters. And of course yet another game without the annoying visitors who appear when we lose….of in desperation this season, when we draw

  23. @Al
    Damn right, but i was waiting for that, they only replay the correct ones. Now let the AAAs come and tell us its not fixed. But the question: is it only in our games?

  24. I guess we took the foot off the pedal a little thinking it was won, Bootoomee, then villa started lumping long ball after long ball into our box bypassing our midfield. But yes, the team did what they had to do. Good result, and goodnight all.

  25. @AL

    yes correct. No replays on the offside calls, except one.

    All very fishy.

    The underwater league.

  26. Good win for the team against a Villa side who wanted to get very physical but were constrained for a while by the early yellow card. Not sure how Agbonlahor avoided a card for his assault on Rosicky.

    A hard fought away win, a good three points and back to the top of the table, not a bad result!

    Lets hope Rosicky and Monreal are ok.

  27. Its Ozil, the difference, when in the second half he stopped playing, not defending and a bit loose on attack, we couldnt break away, its when they scored he turned on fire, and they didnt know what hit them, he really was the best player after the goal.

    By the way,it was a finished game up until that goal, lucky goal it all worked for them.

    The ref was ok, wrong calls but not biased, elbow on rosicky should have been foul, but i dont think it was delibirate, but that t**t atkinson, where did he get the damn 6 min from. Now how on earth was that not trying to make us lose points.

    And on manchester city refereeing standards, Aston villa goal should be offside ;P

  28. The team finished with a back line of Gibbs bac kos and per, as the official site says 28 games without defeat when we finish the game with that lot, let’s see how far they can go!

  29. Swarbrick in my opinion was very good tonight. Giving that 1st minute yellow is probably the best any referee has been to us this season. He was fair throughout. Even if that game had ended in a draw or worse I would say the same. He did not get everything right but he set a good tone for the game and was fair to both teams.

    It is sad that one have to be praising the ref for just basically doing his job but that is where we are.

    On a different note, I hate us having to play on Monday nights. I love early Saturday or the regular 3pm kick off.

  30. After the 2 goals, Arsenal players thought the game was over. Complacency. Villa fought in the 2nd half and you know one goal would put Arsenal under immense pressure.
    Cazorla was sloppy. In fact, apart from the game against spurs, the Spaniard hasn’t been the same player he was last season.
    Despite the win, it’s plain to see Arsenal desperately need pace upfront. Giroud played well but if Arsenal had a striker with pace to unleash in the second half, I’m sure this game wouldn’t have been so tense.
    Without Walcott, Wenger should bring a player with pace to offer other alternative to the team. Ozil’s through balls would be more effective.

  31. Those stuff happens in football, its how to respond , and i believe the team responded in the best way possible, when jack went on the ground then got up and ran to the ball, flamini tackle, ozil counter attack run, Giroud pressing, Per clearance header ( beautiful), and Kos last clearance when the ball was going for a throw, great determination.

    Dont know why did they put it on monday, i prefere early saturday, that is if we win, cause we will enjoy a great day, but if we fail to, its a dark weekend, full of AAAs, like after our game with City.

  32. Yassin,

    Never mind the AAA. They always have something to whinge about. One is already here telling us about things that we’ve all just seen with our own eyes, giving advice and instructions to Wenger as if the manager search the Internet forum for tips on how to run the team from anonymous ‘experts’.

  33. The fresh new article about the game is out. Completely in red….still wet from the blood, bones and cards….

  34. Good win, 3points and still top of the table.

    The kind of match Arsenal could have drawn or lost couple of years ago. Good sign of maturity and win ‘pretty or ugly’ mentality which are hallmarks of champions.

    Good yellow card call by the ref in the first minute. The FA must have warned him against silly fouls on JW to avoid a repeat of what happened to Walcott.

    Agbonlahor’s elbow was malicious. You can see it in his face. Hope FA will do something in retrospect. I hope TR and NM are ok.

    Forward march to Saturday to fool Fulham. COYG!

  35. @Sperez
    Is it possible that once, just once, you can come on here after an Arsenal win and just say great result, well done to the team. No buts, no criticism’s, no complaining, just…. well done. You know, the kind of thing true supporters do.

  36. @D-Sanchez-Cabello
    Your analysis of how Aston Villa play turned out to be pretty accurate in this case too.

  37. Pat,
    thanks for pointing that out.

    Well done Dominic!! As usual in fact! Believe me I know how difficult it is to write a match preview. One of my weaknesses ;)Glad you have taken that on you.

    I really appreciate your pre match articles. In fact I feel not comfortable when I couldn’t read the article before kick off.

  38. OT:

    Nothing about Aston Villa, but “idiots” feels good.

    One of Tottenham’s “stars” (Tottenham Hotspur being the best club in the world according to many websites) has decided to move to the centre of the universe. Yes, Jermain Defoe will be playing for Toronto in the MLS. He has said he wants to win trophies.

    Toronto as a city is very much like ManU under SAF. They want to be awarded the trophy in whatever sport at the beginning of the season, and let everyone else fight for positions under them. Well, except that the sports teams often refuse to win as much as they “should”.

    I wish Jermaine well. But the attitude that TO has sucks. I really hope Jermaine goes elsewhere, because I don’t fancy any Toronto football team going anywhere.

  39. Sometimes the AAAAs or the boobs that come on here should be ignored .
    Pardon them , or not !

    A flat-chested woman was delighted when her Fairy Godmother said her breasts would increase in size every time a man said ‘Pardon’ to her.
    She walked down the sidewalk, accidentally bumped into a man and he said, “Pardon me.” Her breasts instantly grew an inch and she was ecstatic. The next day, she bumped into a man in the grocery store, he begged her pardon and another inch was added to her breasts. She was in seventh heaven!
    She walked into a Chinese restaurant, collided with a waiter who bowed and said, “A thousand pardons for my clumsy behavior.”
    The next day, the headline in the local newspaper read, “Chinese Waiter Crushed to Death!”

  40. Just because bookies and payouts were mentioned….
    The Lottery
    The AAAA was up to his eyes in money troubles and could see no way out except winning the lottery. He went to the his temple and prayed to win. At the next draw he waited confidently, but was disappointed.
    He returned to the place of worship and prayed again, pointing out that he had lived an exemplary life, devoutly observing dietary laws, and contributing to the local charities. Still at the next draw he didn’t win.
    He returned to the temple close to despair, but before he could find the words a voice spoke to him out of the clouds: “OK, you want to win the lottery. But please, meet me halfway. Buy a ticket.”

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