A technical punch up, a glorious cock-up, and a very silly little boy. Villa v AFC


By Tony Attwood

It wasn’t that we scored four goals for the first time this year.  It wasn’t that we won.  It wasn’t just that the run of poor results was broken, or that the joy and relief for the players was there to be seen by all.   No, the icing on the cake came because the data analysts of Aston Villa had a punch-up with the data analysts of Arsenal who were going wild with joy, and the fact that the villain of the piece was the horrible Emaliano Martinez – one of those people who believes that the rules don’t apply to him.

This is not to say that fighting is good, but rather that I do like the fact that the cause of the aggro was that Arsenal’s behind-the-scenes team are so incredibly passionate about the club and the game – and are willing to show it.

As we reported in one of the build-up pieces, Martinez is remembered for breaking covid rules and flying to South America for a game which was then broken up by the local police.  Not a good thing to have on one’s record.  (See Martinez and co in trouble for illegal entry and by-passing Covid rules).

This time, apparently (according to a report in the Telegraph) without the agreement of his manager or tactical staff, having wonderfully backheaded in an own goal for Arsenal’s third he then charged up the pitch leaving his goal empty and allowing Martinelli to get all his confidence and form back by scoring.

It was a joyous moment and one of the season’s great highlights and was followed we now learn by the technical staff of Aston Villa (the Villians of the piece of course) and Arsenal having a punch-up.  

Mind you we can’t quite be sure what happened because the Telegraph report merely speaks of “Witnesses in the press box” who “reported a war of words, which Telegraph Sport understands to have briefly turned physical, between analysts of Villa and Arsenal.”

Now that is a sentence containing all the words that warn us that this is a fantasy tale – words like “reported” and “understands” – it not necessarily to be taken seriously..   What the media “report” and “understand” is normally at the opposite end of the park from reality.

But true or not, it is rather droll to find that “Villa staff seemed to react angrily to the celebrations of Arsenal’s analysts, and had made their feelings known.”

Arteta said he would look into it, rather like a man discovering an oil well in his backgarden.   At least Unai Emery, who I have always thought to be a decent bloke, had the guts to admit he was “embarrassed about the last goal. I have never told my keeper to go forward. We have to keep our mind clear and be smart. Today he decided it was his decision. I told him I don’t like it.”

So just to add to that, I want to tell Martinez that I loved it for that, although for his actions in breaking covid rules by flying around the world, I still don’t like him.

I’ll finish this morning with the last six match table – not because it shows Arsenal have fully recovered from the blip – it will take more than a single win to do that, encouraging though it is, but because it is interesting finally to consider the form of the “big seven”.  Remember all the media said that the top four at the end of this season would be Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Tottenham.  In the current form table those clubs are placed first, 13th, 15th and ninth.

One really can’t trust anything these “supercomputers” (ie the guy down the pub) actually say.  


The Last Six Matches Table
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester C 6 4 1 1 14 6 8 13
2 Brentford 6 3 3 0 10 3 7 12
3 Brighton & Hove 6 3 2 1 11 5 6 11
4 Manchester U 6 3 2 1 11 8 3 11
5 Nottingham F 6 3 2 1 6 4 2 11
6 Arsenal 6 3 1 2 11 9 2 10
7 Fulham 6 3 1 2 5 3 2 10
8 Wolverhampton 6 3 1 2 7 6 1 10
9 Tottenham Hot 6 3 0 3 9 10 -1 9
10 Leicester C 6 2 1 3 11 10 1 7
11 Newcastle Utd 6 1 4 1 3 4 -1 7
12 Aston Villa 6 2 1 3 9 13 -4 7
13 Liverpool 6 2 1 3 5 9 -4 7
14 West Ham Utd 6 1 3 2 6 7 -1 6
15 Chelsea 6 1 3 2 3 4 -1 6
16 Southampton 6 2 0 4 4 8 -4 6
17 Everton 6 2 0 4 4 10 -6 6
18 Bournemouth 6 1 2 3 3 8 -5 5
19 Crystal Palace 6 0 4 2 4 6 -2 4
20 Leeds United 6 0 2 4 3 8 -5 2


So looking at the current form, only three of the big seven clubs – the clubs with the most money – are in the top six European places over the last six games.  The much heralded (by the media) Liverpool and Chelsea recovery has not happened.  Indeed Chelsea, having spent more than the rest of Europe put together, are still performing as a club only one point above the relegation-threatened clubs.

This is not to try and say that on the basis of one game everything for Arsenal is fine and wonderful, but rather to say, when looking at the recent run of form, (two defeats and a draw in the last six games) we have still knocked in 11 goals.   And for the moment, let’s just focus on the positive.

7 Replies to “A technical punch up, a glorious cock-up, and a very silly little boy. Villa v AFC”

  1. To be fair, anyone with half an eye, or to put it another way, the ability to make honest analytical assessments of our previous 3 matches, namely the defeat at Everton, draw against Brentford, and defeat to Man City, know that things, though not as we would of preferred, were never as bad as some would have us believe.

    We actually dominated all matches with 64%, 69% and 70% possession respectively.

    We turned that possession in to shots as well having the most shots in each match, 10 to 9, 23 to 9 and 15 to 12 respectively.

    Our problem as was patently obvious, was hitting the target. From 48 shots we only hit the target 11 times. 1 in 4.36.

    In comparison with just 30 efforts our opponents hit the target an astonishing 19 times. 1 in 1.5

    From our meagre 11 shots on target we only scored 2 goals, 1 in 5.5.

    Our opponents on the other hand scored 5 goals from 19 attempts on target, 1 in 3.8.

    Basically our finishing went to pot. It’s as simple as that. We turned our possession in to shots okay, but not enough on target. If we’d of upped our efficiency in front of goal to that of our opponents it’s hard to argue against the possibility that we would of escaped from Goodison Park with a draw, a victory over Brentford (which we should of had anyway) and possibly even a draw against City.

    We just need to get our mojo back in front of goal. Get back to the efficiency in front of goal we had been showing up until the Everton game.

    Hopefully yesterday was a sign that it may be coming back, although 5 on target from 20 efforts is still a slight concern.

    Eddie needs to get back on track, as does Odegaard, when it comes to hitting the target. If they do we should start to fly again.

  2. @Nitram,

    I agree that the efficiency in front of the goal is an issue. Eddie is in a desert but then, Jesus was not scoring that much either. We have a young team that uses speed and intensity which more and more are countered by parking the bus, the more so that lower placed teams are playing much more defensively as their first half of the championship’s ‘positivity’ is fading replaced by fear of relegation or missiong out on european places.

    And, frankly….wanna criticize Arsenal and not say a word about galactical City ?!?!

    I do find it fascinating how much more open this season is shaping up then was expected by the supercomputers and their AI (artificial idiocy). According to the Guargian last week, are hopeless anyway because they are being outspent by City… who can afford the best manager and best team… yet looking at saturday’s results one wonders how a supposed journalist can make such definitive statements and ignore that the game ain’t over until the referee whistles the end and the champinship until all games are played. Then again…deadwood journalists are capable of telling you so much crap that makes no sense….

  3. In the bad old days of the 70s, aggro between rival supporters involved rival “firms” of hooligans.

    Now it’s analysts. “Our analysts are harder than yours!”

  4. Nitram,
    Spot on with the analysis and stats as usual. The only thing I’ll add is the points lost due to officials decisions and errors (per Howard Webb). The table wouldn’t be as tight if the officials had gotten it right.

  5. goonersince72


    The thing is, when I hear the guys talking in the mess room they ALL think they are the ones done over by the ref, or VAR, and I sort of get it. When it’s YOUR team you feel it so much more. It sticks with you. When it’s someone else, yeah you see it, but you shrug your shoulders and think/say, yeah but we’ve had worse!!!

    That being said, I’m with you. As even others have pointed out (Team Talk?) every one of our defeats has had defining moments of very bad VAR calls going against us. Even though we were culpable against Man City Harlaand should not of been on the pitch to score that third goal. City should of played out that match with 10 men and who knows what might of happened? Plus he would be out for 3 matches.

    But just the one diabolical call in the Brentford match being called correctly would now have us still 5 points clear with a gamein hand, without all the others.

  6. There is not a player currently playing I dislike more than martinez!!!
    For all the reasons you mention and many more Tony.
    I think the circumstances made this the most enjoyable win of the season so far?

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