Arsenal v Villa: the projected team from around the media

by Bulldog Drummond

The Shortfuse obliges us with a team prediction…


Holding Gabriel Tierney

Bellerin Partey Elneny Saka

Willian Lacazette Aubameyang

and goes beyond that by also giving us a beach consisting of

Nicolas Pepe, Granit Xhaka, Eddie Nketiah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Dani Ceballos and Alex Runarsson

Now this is exactly the same team that the Guardian has come up with, although the Guardian do tend to cheat a little by giving us 13 players that Arsenal will choose from on the beach.  That 13 is…

Rúnarsson, Macey, Saliba, Soares, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Smith Rowe, Pépé, Nketiah, Xhaka, Ceballos, Mustafi

The Standard goes for… exactly the same team, but with Elneny and Partey playing in reversed positions.  They also give us a 3-1 win.

Sports Mole do at least give us one variation…


Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;

Bellerin, Thomas, Elneny, Saka;

Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang


But really this is what we get throughout the predictions.  The Independent for example gives us exactly the same.  The Sun doesn’t even bother to give a team but says, “Arsenal’s defensive issues continue with David Luiz and Pablo Mari still injured, but Calum Chambers is back in training.”

So since most people are agreeing about the line up let’s look for some funny facts.   Here’s one from the BBC:

“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could fail to score in four successive league home appearances for the first time since December 2014 for Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga.”

But here is an even better one from the same source:

“Villa can become only the third club in top-flight history to win their opening four matches and lose the next three. Villa did so themselves in 1891-92, followed by Stoke City in 1895-96.”

So not quite the third club – since they were also the first.  But that would be rather amusing wouldn’t it?  Still lets have a look at their 1891/92 performances – just for the hell of it.

Date Match Result Score Competition
05 Sep 1891 Aston Villa v Blackburn Rovers W 5-1 League Division One
12 Sep 1891 Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion W 5-1 League Division One
19 Sep 1891 Preston North End v Aston Villa W 0-1 League Division One
28 Sep 1891 Aston Villa v Sunderland W 5-3 League Division One
03 Oct 1891 Derby County v Aston Villa L 4-2 League Division One
10 Oct 1891 Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers L 1-2 League Division One
17 Oct 1891 Burnley v Aston Villa L 4-1 League Division One

What the little quip from the BBC doesn’t tell us is what happened next.  In fact Villa won the next five in a row!  Strange things happened in the 19th century.

Villa’s best run against Arsenal came between 1908 and 1922.  All the games were played in League Division One, and four years were missed because of the first world war.  Villa won 13, Arsenal won just one and two were drawn.

Fortunately for Arsenal in 1925 Leslie Knighton was kicked out and Herbert Chapman arrived and things changed.  But our best run has been from 1994 to the present time during which time a total of 52 first team meetings have occurred.

Of these Villa have won just six. 16 were draws.  Villa did beat us at their place in July, but the last time before that was August 2013, in a match so notorious that most of us who were there can still remember it.  It was the first match of the season and they “won” 1-3.  I think the team were outraged too – Arsenal won each of their next ten matches.  Arsenal finished the season fourth and Villa 15th.

Walter Broeckx did the post match review of  the game (hi Walter, hope you are doing well in the lockdown!) and it began

“Sitting in front of my TV I couldn’t really remember seeing such a ref travesty for a long while. But then I remembered the PL has stopped some 3 month ago so it had been a while.

“Whatever 11 players we would have put on the pitch today wouldn’t have mattered.

“From the first minutes it was clear that the ref was going to give us nothing. Every time an Arsenal player came close to an Anthony Villa player the whistle went.  On the other hand Villa could do what they want and only when things really were bad the ref would give the foul.”

That was exactly how we saw it in the ground.  No more of that please Mr Ref.

Finally, the transfers.  In the summer Arsenal spent £67.8m net.  Aston Villa spent £78m net.   Last summer Arsenal spent £90m net on transfers.  Aston Villa spent £164.3m net.

So they have been outspending us.  It will be interesting to see which of the teams is further up the table come the end of the season.

Here’s a final thought.  No one has scored a league goal against Aston Villa this season when they have been playing away from home.  If we can knock in a couple early on it will be interesting to see if they crumble.

28 Replies to “Arsenal v Villa: the projected team from around the media”

  1. Started off with a goal before the stream settled but VAR the system that is infallible is examining it. The Ref is going to the pitch side screen and comes back to call a goal kick! The goal is chalked off because this time a player that was off side was impedeing the vision of the goal keeper. There is a God!!!

  2. The delay was over 4 minutes. Plus a couple of stoppages and that equates to 3 minutes added on – robbing bar stewards.

    Second Arsenal game this afternoon draining my will to live. What is the point of Lava and Willian at the moment. We seem to be effectively playing with a team of 9 productive players plus two passengers?

  3. Just a word about the neutrality of the tv commentators.

    Apparently Villa with just 36% possession, fewer shots and not a single one on target are “well worth their lead”. The continuous shite they come out with really is putting me off watching football.

    Roll on being able to get back to the stadium and not having to listen to this garbage.

  4. Spending lots of money doesn’t guarantee success. Villa last season survived by a point , this season Barkley / Watkins a totally different proposition. We finally got into the game after 1/2 hr , lots to do .

  5. Why are we so slow to get going, it’s the same game after game. More pace and energy toward the end of the half but for the first half hour it was like OAP’s walking football at my local sports centre. Villa deserved their lead.
    Both our strikers appear to have lost their shooting boots, Laca missed a golden chance and Auba nowhere near getting anywhere near getting a shot off stuck out on the left wing. I really can’t wait for Martinelli to come back so we can see a bit of hustle and bustle and enthusiasm.
    I am trying to be positive but it is hard work so far.

  6. I remember suggesting swapping Ozil for Grealish and giving them £30 mil as well . Untolders laughed ridiculous they said . Really

  7. 60th min and Holding misses a glorious chance.

    Ref letting so many fouls go by playing advantage. There is no real advantage but some of these should be bookings. Auba fouled but cards kept for Christmas!!

  8. 0 – 3 with Watkins getting his second. Third through Lenos legs. This is a poor effort from Leno he has got no courage to catch the ball.

  9. Gutted we have had a bad night , we are so much better than this . Certainly we have been unlucky with a few chances, but credit to Villa they have played well , they survived last season and this season thrashed Liverpool and have recruited well .

  10. Grealish the most fouled player is the biggest faker of a foul!! he dives more than a gannet!

  11. Rudolf

    Nobody laughed or said you were ridiculous. There is no need to exaggerate as it just undermines what you are saying. What I did say, and what I still say is your critisism of Ozil was way over the top, which I maintain. I still believe he should at least be in the squad because until todays defensive shambles creativity is what we have lacked and are still lacking. I also produced stats that showed Ozils were as good as Grealish’s, = which they were at the time.

    Obviously Grealish has stepped up to another level and is producing at a World class level. But Ozil produced at that level for years and was voted Germany’s player of the year on numerous occasions. Obviously he had past his peak but as I say, in my opinion we still miss him

    But the point remains you were correct about Grealish’s potential as he has stepped up to a level way beyond anything we currently have at our disposal in midfield.

    I have no problem acknowledging that but exaggerating what was said to you is unnecessary as you have ultimately been proved correct without the need for exaggeration.

    Anyway, back to today……..BOLLOCKS

  12. Villa do not need substitutes because they foul the opponents and get away with simulation.

  13. We deserve to lose but it so annoys me when refs give teams the go ahead to foul with impunity. I’m not sure two or three cards would have made us play better but it would certainly made them approach the game differently.

    Anybody want to check when the last time was that we committed as many fouls as Villa without a card? (Btw I see the Spuds got away with 12 fouls for no card again].

  14. I keep repeating it: we play at a too slow tempo. It takes ages for us before we even get out of our own penalty area giving the opposition all the time in the world to organise themselves. The only good moments we had was when we tried to use a bit of speed in our game. But we only did that 2 or 3 times in 90 minutes. The best example was the third Villa goal. If Leno would have caught the ball we would have played 37 touches in our own penalty area before we would dare to go in the direction of the half way line. Villa just used the speed they had in order to punish us. If we keep playing the ball at a veterans tempo in our own half we will never break up an opponent. Villa was stronger and faster than us. It was painful to watch.

  15. Nitram no insult intended , you are as always a very fair minded person , poetic license etc obviously it was a proposition that could never realistically ever happen sadly , but Villa what a transformation sure does make this an interesting season especially for the neutrals

  16. Thank f we boycott the box office shite!! Saka was targetted and fouled so many times but Atkinson saw nothing.

    VAR only looks at incidents in the box unless it is a red card. How do they know when a red card offence occurs if they don’t look at the game outside the box?????

  17. Rudolf

    No problem.

    I could see the lad was good but I never realised he would be quite this good. Before kick off highlighted his seasons stats so far and they are pretty remarkable.

    As for this season it certainly looks like it could be pretty interesting. Will we be part of the fun? Well as you may of read earlier, up until today I was pretty satisfied at our progress, but today seems like, not just a step backwards, an enormous step backwards.

    Maybe an over reaction straight after the match but it sure feels like shit.

  18. With that 0-3 score-line to Aston Villa in the game, I think the deed has been done as Arsenal are looking to have lost 2 consecutive notches at home in the Premier League so far this season.

    But despite that I don’t belong to the camp of the Gooners who are in their unwavering support for Mesut Ozil want to see him playing for the club this season will now have the chance to taunt Mikel Arteta the Gunners gaffer for his banishment of Ozil from the team this season if Arsenal lose to Aston Villa at the Ems this night.

    I’ve foresee the problem coming for Arsenal in their today’s match at home to Aston Villa in the PL. And that’s the reason for my suggesting to Mikel Arteta to try and make the Gunners to undergo a big game training session for their Aston Villa match. But did Arteta listen me?

  19. After reading tonight’s comments, I feel so disheartened about our prospects this season. I recall the excitement on reading the new signings before the season began. The early away wins against our top rivals. The success in the FA Cup.
    Maybe we can turn things around…….I hope so.
    Otherwise we will end in the EPL with barely a top ten finish, yet again.

  20. I feel we have concentrated our efforts on getting things right starting from the back. OK that might be questionable tonight but losing Partey was a big deal. It is also the case that Villa hadn’t had a shot on target in the first half. What we haven’t done is get the whole team functioning properly and consistently. I am absolutely convinced that we are a darn sight better than half the clubs above us……..assuming a level playing field of course!

  21. I am speechless.Did we ever lost to Villa at home during Wengers 20 years? I think never…

    Where are the idiot fans at Legroan Arseblog etc who said we will win the league after getting rid of Wenger.
    Do they realise now how important was finishing top4.

    Arsene Wenger kept us in top4 for 2 decades but those idiots ridiculed him. Are they happy now losing to Villa at home in an embarrassing fashion.Will they accept they were wrong in humiliating Wenger.Will they accept their mistake?

  22. I love Wenger and agree with the above post, however I remember losing at home to Villa several times,they were a bit of a bogey team.

  23. Mikey

    “I feel we have concentrated our efforts on getting things right starting from the back”

    That’s what I’ve been saying, and what I think is the correct approach, and until last night I thought we were on the right path, we still probably are in fact. The loss of Partey obviously had a major impact. Whether the loss of one player should have had quite such an impact and see us capitulate quite so dramatically is a big question, but capitulate we did.

    But all that being said the real concern is our offensive play which is, not to put too fine a point on it, dire. The strange thing is we CAN do it.

    We can play out from the back quickly and have scored at least 2 wonderful team goals doing so, but far too often we take 10 passes where 3 would do.

    We can maintain a very high press and have scored a few goals on the back of it, but seem incapable of doing so for long periods.

    Our transitions can be quick, but far too often they are way too laboured and allow the opposition to get set.

    That is why last nights match was so disappointing as it came so close on the heels of the United match in which showed we can do it, in what was probably the best we had played since Artetas arrival. We were over them like a rash from the first minute to the last. It was impressive. It was that stark difference that magnified it’s impact.

    Despite the stark contrast between the 2 games there was one aspect that reared it’s head in both and that was our finishing. One player losing his ‘shooting boots’ is one thing, but when every player can’t hit a proverbial ‘barn door’ you are never going to win football matches on a consistent basis. Why such prolific goal scorers should lose it at the same time is perplexing. Maybe it’s just bad luck, maybe it’s something deeper, lets just hope it’s the former and the goals return sooner rather than later.

    The morning after the night before always feels bad, but this is not the time to make rash judgements.

    I never chased Wenger out, I never even chased Emery out, and actually, rightly or wrongly, advocated he should of been given more time, so I’m hardly likely to start advocating yet another change, especially as despite last nights set back, I think Arteta is the man for the job.

    The manager and players have to look at themselves and evaluate exactly what went wrong, address the issues, and move on.

    We as fans have to maintain our support, after all as I said a few weeks ago, it took Klopp 3 years to get it right, Arteta has been our manager for less than a year. He should be given time, we just have to be patient, because going back to the endless negativity, snipping and calls for change will only make it worse.

  24. That match was discouraging. Let’s hope it’s a one off. There was absolutely nothing going on until Ceballos came on during the 2nd half. He actually was taking players on the dribble. I don’t recall anyone else doing that. Nor did any player really respond and find space. Even Auba was sluggish. Elneny (usually a positive)was easily dispossessed of the ball several times. Even Leno was off. Again, hoping it was an aberration and not a trend.

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