By Bulldog Drummond
In the old days the journalists would always write, “the games are coming thick and fast for Arsenal”, and they would write that every time we had a mid-week game as well as a weekend match. Strangely back in the 1920s when clubs used to play on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, a couple of days later, and the New Year’s Day, no one said it at all.
Anyway, they seem to have been coming thick and fast for so long it is going to be strange when after this game we don’t have another one until next weekend – the match at home to Leeds. How weird is that going to feel.
But then another is scheduled – except that it is in Portugal which seems rather unlikely.
However we approach this one knowing that Pepe has scored in each of his last three away games which is something to behold.
As for the journalists, well Football London excel even themselves with “Full Arsenal squad revealed for Premier League showdown vs Aston Villa at Villa Park” which is of course the full squad minus the injured parties.
Still I suppose it does mean you can always pick your own team from the availables list
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Runar Alex Runarsson & Karl Hein.
Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Cedric Soares, Calum Chambers, Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding & Pablo Mari.
Midfielders: Bukayo Saka, Willian, Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos, Emile Smith Rowe & Martin Odegaard.
Strikers: Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah & Gabriel Martinelli.
So who to pick?
The Guardian gives us
Runar Alex Runarsson
Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric Soares
Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang
which of course leaves ace away goalscorer Pepe on the beach.
Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric;
Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe;
So no Aubameyang there for them, but Pepe gets a look in.
Now from here on we are pretty much on unified territory – for most pundits it is one of those two set ups. So for a change here’s Who Scored’s statistical comparison for the line up with Aubameyang and not Pepe
|182.7||Average height in cm||182.5|
|1.2||Shots per goal||1.1|
|53%||Aerial duel success||45%|
|0.8||Dribbles per goal||0.7|
|0.9||Tackles per goal||0.9|
But in essence it seems to indicate we are worse than them in every measure – whereas the league ratings and our comparison ratings have us neck and neck, except that our form (despite recent blips) since the new year is better than their’s. Here’s the reminder for Villa…
|01 Jan 2021||Manchester United v Aston Villa||L||2-1||Premier League|
|08 Jan 2021||Aston Villa v Liverpool||L||1-4||FA Cup|
|20 Jan 2021||Manchester City v Aston Villa||L||2-0||Premier League|
|23 Jan 2021||Aston Villa v Newcastle United||W||2-0||Premier League|
|27 Jan 2021||Burnley v Aston Villa||L||3-2||Premier League|
|30 Jan 2021||Southampton v Aston Villa||W||0-1||Premier League|
|03 Feb 2021||Aston Villa v West Ham United||L||1-3||Premier League|
Google are however having a laugh today because on typing in Aston Villa v Arsenal teams I was offered this from Bleacher Report near the top of the list
Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal;
Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey;
Joel Campbell, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott;
Looking further I found an entry from Wikipedia which I rather enjoyed
But I think the earlier predictions look a little more likely.
One thing for the future. We are about to start a little series on why exactly refereeing is a problem area in Premier League football, and why the media won’t write about it. But while you are contemplating the answer, here is a line from the BBC’s preview of this game
- Nine Arsenal players have been sent off since Arteta’s first game in charge on Boxing Day 2019, five more than any other side.
Makes you think.
- How the daily media assault on Arsenal is seriously damaging the club
- A change of tune from the inventors of transfers.
- Why do Arsenal get so many red cards and why can’t Liverpool sign new players?
- 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