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.
|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.
- Arsenal v Aston Villa: how Villa’s “missing” games changes the outlook
- Extraordinary injury news from Arsenal and what Pépé and Eddie must do
- The desperate need to sort out Arsenal’s away form
- Despite media denials, away advantage now outweighs home advantage
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP