The difficult task of fitting in all the players: Arsenal v Villa

By Bulldog Drummond

Quite a big day for the Untold Collective: Andrew, Walter, Blacksheep and Tony all at the game together.  Untold doesn’t manage that very often.

And glory be, what a difference a few weeks makes.  From the December doom gloom and doom and gloom and we are finished, to this, in the Guardian:

Arsenal… are full of goals and full of confidence having won four in a row, including a 2-0 triumph at Manchester City.

So there we are, not a club in crisis, not a club who won’t buy the players we need.  And the cause of our previous crisis was – injuries, just as Untold told you.

So the player news for the match is that Alexis Sanchez needs a rest because of a tight hamstring, while on the table getting the treatment are Welbeck (now thought to be back next week, he starts training on monday), Oxlade-Chamberlain (about two weeks), Wilshere (sometimes in March), Arteta (April), Debuchy (also April).  Gnabry seems to be training away, and will be in contention soonish.

For the visitors my information is naturally more patchy, but we might not see Agbonlahor,  Cole, Delph or our old chum, Senderos.   We for sure won’t see  Vlaar or Kozak.

Personally I can’t see Gabriel Paulista doing much other than sitting on the beach and running up and down a bit to big cheers, while we see if the guys who do such things have found a song with the word Gabriel in it.

Of course we don’t need reminding what Villa can do to us at the Stadium Wenger, just as they don’t need reminding what we can do to them in Birmingham.

We’ve lost only once at home since Aston Referee beat us at the start of last season – that being to Manchester Untidy.  But the current run is rather jolly.  Four wins in a row, with three sheets that have been washed in Persil.

And it is eight hours and 42 minutes since an Aston Referee league goal.   20 December was the date.  Oh how they will jump about if they score against us, but if we are four up maybe we can let them have won.

For despite all the torment at the Stadium Wenger, the fact is that Arsenal have lost just three of the last 32 league meetings with Aston Villa.

The actual detail (if that is what you are after) is won 20, drawn 9 and lost 3.  So it doesn’t take much to work out that those three defeats have come later rather than earlier.

Leaving aside the various cup games we have played we have a league record of won five, drawn one, lost one in the last seven, which is not bad by and large.

Olivier Giroud who is certain to be playing unless he trips over something that shouldn’t have been left on the floor, has scored four goals in his last five league appearances, which is why Untold has repeatedly dared to compare the goal scoring ability of Giroud with Mr Henry.

In those past days of glory we had Henry and Pires scoring the goals, now we have Giroud and Alexis, and we have only just started seeing glimpses of Theo.

Perhaps the big difference however is that we now have Santi Cazorla who has scored five goals in eight games.  Not bad.

And speaking of goalscoring Alexis Sanchez has scored more game in the league this season than Aston Villa.   Villa have 11.  Which is interesting when we remember that back in September Villa were challenging for top position in the league – after beating Liverpool away.  Indeed since mid September they have only won twice in 18 league matches (W2, D6, L10).

And now they have gone seven league matches without a win, scoring just once.  If they don’t score today, they will have gone six league games in a row without a goal for the first time ever.

As for away games they have only got four away goals this season, and not scored twice away since the 2-2 draw at Liverpool on 18 January 2014

Gabriel Paulista makes a headed clearance

Wenger, though, is confident about Gabriel: “What I saw was great quality for a defender – his level of concentration, he is a good size and is quick as well, he has great commitment in the challenges and he is young.”

So here is the team…


Bellerin   Mert   Kos   Gibbs

Ramsey   Coquelin   Cazorla

Walcott   Giroud   Ozil

Incidentally, four of those players were not regulars in the squad at this time one year back: Oooospina, Bellerin, Coquelin, Walcott.  Nearly 40% change from a year ago.

On the famous Arsenal beach

Szczesny, Chambers, Monreal, Gabriel, Flamini, Rosicky, Akpom, Sánchez

And here again we have four names that were not playing or sitting here, one year ago: Chambers, Gabriel, Akpom, Sánchez

Looking at that beach, it is remarkably powerful.  I would say Gabriel could come on if Arsenal are three up, by taking Kos off.  The problem with the language is a main one – but I suspect he will be introduced to help ease Kos’ Achilles problems, very gently.

The good news however is that Gabriel is not cup tied for the Champions League.

I also think Rosicky needs to be used gently, in order to make sure we get more displays like the ones we have seen of late.

Editorial note: Because the Untold team are all at the game today we won’t be publishing a match follow up – at least not until quite a bit later on.

But you can still see which piece of mindless violence against top talent is thought to be a clever and funny idea by watching Match of the Day on the BBC tonight.

The books

Anniversary of the Day

1 February 1975: Trevor Ross came on as a sub for Alan Ball to make his first league appearance against Liverpool.  He later reported that after he tackled Tommy Smith, Smith said to him,  ”Son, tackle me like that again and I will break your leg.”   Nothing much changes.


32 Replies to “The difficult task of fitting in all the players: Arsenal v Villa”

  1. Ozil to start and Rosicky to be dropped after the game of his life? Interesting. What message does that send out to the other squad members trying to get into the team and keep their place? What does it say about the managers selection process?

  2. I would have loved Flamini to play today, Coquelin will be more important next week. He is one yellow card away from missing Spurs, who have a strong midfield, therefore we would like The Coq to bolster ours.

  3. @ThomB

    As good as Rosicky has been, he will still be a bit part player simply because of age. Moreover, Wenger would want to give Ramsey game time for him to get his sharpness back.

    @ JohnW

    Its probably a good idea to keep Coq for Spurs game except I don’t see Wenger doing this unless he is not fit.

    Hoping we get a comfortable win as teams around us did yesterday.

  4. Taylor is a Tony Pulis’ Stoke of the referees.

    Still, aside from him being a massive c..t, last season we suffered from the lack of balance in the middle as Ramsey-Wilshere axis left the defence unprotected. Today that won’t be a problem with Le Coq as the shield.

  5. Inform Spurds are on song at the moment and they have even reached a Wembly final. And they will play against us next weekend coming from the background of being inform and being instigated against us by describing their defence line as a lackadaisical defence and attributed the slander to an Arsenal fan posting. Therefore, I preferred the boss to rest 5 certain Gunners for the Spurs big game as those: OspinaSanchezCazorlaCoquelinRosicky. They may all be started from the bench with Paulista and Akpom. My Own Overriding Gunners starts for the Villans visit: Szczesny. BellerinRhinosackerKoscielnyMonreal. FlaminiChambers. WalcottOzilRamsey. Giroud. To play a 4-2-3-1 playing style.

  6. @ThomB
    Do not forget Rosicky is not a youth anymore, and will usually only play 45-60 mins in any game without completely ruining him for the next 3 or 4 games.

    Why do people watch Match of the Day? My pal does so and then calls me to complain at their incompetence.
    Media = medea = goddess of illusion.

    I think we cannot afford to keep players back for Spuds, A-Villa game is just as important now, and now it is about HOW we play rather than WHO we play. It’s time all teams become important.

    Just read this quote from Arteta:
    “We saw that at the Etihad, where he was chasing back, winning the ball and retaining possession under pressure in tight areas. That is very important in big games.”

    People’s brains are funny like that, if you are thinking of the game as “not a big game”, then your game will be “make not a big effort”.

    This idea of BIG GAMES should be left for finals only, up to then all games are big games.

  7. AKB. It is not the team that should concern us it’s the midfield extra that Villa has. I’m praying that Arsenal play beyond his eyeline and dazzles the opposition. I really hate the cheats PGMO & the crows that they appoint. The FA are void of reason.

    Come on Arsenal play the beautiful game & teach us how good players overcome cheats.

  8. Think we are good enough to beat Villa and the ref Will, annoying we seem to get him so often though.

  9. Having said that, think he has sent off three Arsenal players in his last four games for us, usually for two yellows. Expect some early yellows coming our way, which will be added to if our players retaliate to the kicking they will almost certainly get. Think early goals could be key, would be good for the likes of theo to get the team out of the starting blocks. Villa wil be vulnerable to pace, something which we will have, especially down our right

  10. Why is Wenger talking to that Wanker Smith. Hardly ever has a good word to say about us.

    As far as I know our wage bill doesn’t match Chelseas (it was published on Untold recently but I cant remember) yet Wenger lets him sit there and say it is.

    I may be wrong of course. If someone could find those figures I’d be grateful.

  11. Jambug, our wages matching those of Chelsea is just another media myth used against wenger, in 2014, their wage bill was 193 million, our was around thirty million less. ….scroll down to wages section and graphs in Swiss ramble article below
    The fact is, Chelsea have vastly outstripped us on wages and transfer spending for ten years, we are only just beginning to catch up.
    Not sure that takes into account the thirty odd players Chelsea have on loan either.
    Not only is smith a complete and utter tosser, he is often wrong as well….but invariable plays to the media agenda, which is the only reason we see him.

  12. Mandy Dodd

    Thanks for that.

    So why does Wenger even talk to him, and more over let him sit there and make blatantly false statements.

    Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy

  13. I remember it being said that facing the invincibles in full flight was like facing the Red Arrows.

    I would like to think that bit by bit we are returning to those Halcion days.

  14. An excellent team performance, goals all round the team and no- one gave Taylor anything to work with. Walter and the Belgian supporters again bringing their good luck to counter the ref.


  15. Not sure why he does talk to Smith to be honest Jambug. But he gave the perfect answer today!
    Great result today, will do wonders for confidence, and good to see players coming back getting goals and assists…..and as for Bellerin!
    As for the ref, not much he could have done today without looking ridiculous, villa are a side in trouble, and we did. to really need to get out of second gear for much of the game, though our lightening counters proved extremely effective. Wengers fabled play through drills are clearly hitting home with this wonderful bunch.
    If, as I and many others on here suspect, …..there is an agenda against us, we will see it in ref performances like our upcoming visit to Spurs.
    I predict either Mason or Swarbrick for that game unfortunately, think Atkinson will be saved for Chelsea’s visit.

  16. Great win against a sad Villa outfit. Both goals columns are improving now.
    @Mandy I fear your spuds referee predictions could be correct again. Although lee Poverty could be in the frame, after his red card in the first minute at Bournemouth. Top way of getting back in Riley’s good books.

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