Arteta takes the L as Arsenal prove second best in the second city. (AVL 1-0 ARS)


Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal

Premier League Review


I must say – I like Villa.

Like Arsenal, the biggest club in their city and region.
And have won the European Cup no less – let’s be frank, we haven’t.

And we had one of our greatest FA Cup wins against them in 2015. Arguably the greatest, because we haven’t won an FA Cup final 4-0 before then.

But Villa really won this game for three main reasons – our crap defending, Villa’s gameplan, and Arteta’s faults.

  • Crap defending

The goal they scored was another case of bad defending.

The corner saw Ceballos and Luiz mix up by not clearing it properly.

But the resultant corner was weak.

The centre-backs didn’t really clear the ball, and Soares didn’t close down Trezeguet properly. To be fair, it was a good finish, as the Villa player lived up to his illustrious past-French namesake to score.

We also weren’t as combative in midfield as in previous games – and Grealish amongst others was free to run at our back-line with freedom. The City performance was a holistically good team structure, but in this game, we lacked the structure to stop (with respect to Villa) a far lesser team in quality.

It was a display reminiscent of various bad displays over the past few years, and whilst Luiz and Holding had reasonable individual games, we succumbed to the same old faults. Seemingly, our old failings won’t end at this point.



Photo Credit: Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA Wire

  • Villa’s game plan

We were poor, no doubt. But Villa must be given kudos for their win.

They defended well, albeit our attacks didn’t threaten them much. But they also used ball-carriers such as Grealish to expose our weak areas and expose our failings.

They also closed down the midfield and worked our defensive channels well, and our wing-backs didn’t really track as well as they could have.

Grealish is a player I’d like at Arsenal, given his technique on the ball and drive. He would be a far more effective creative force than Ozil, and the likes of Willock haven’t developed enough to be a mainstay for us.

Villa also closed down the connecting spaces well and exposed our wide areas. Soares and Saka didn’t track their wide runner well enough, and clearly Villa had a good structure to win the game.

  • Arteta takes the L

Mikel Arteta, for this first-ever managerial role, has done well to impose a new defensive structure, reach the FA Cup final, and stabilise our form after the dross of Emery.

But today, he has to take the blame I feel for this loss.

I didn’t mind the rotation – it was good to give players a rest. And the formation and system presumably were the same as in the City game.

But we were limp.

Don’t get me wrong – Villa as I mentioned above had a good game plan which was executed well.

But for me, Arteta didn’t instill a good attitude here.

Moreover, he also didn’t make good enough subs once the side was down 1-0.

I must say Nketiah, Laca, and Auba were not effective. Yes, there wasn’t good service. But their pressing, unlike in recent games, was poor too. Service from the midfield or wide players isn’t needed to press opposition defenders or their goalkeeper.

Nketiah could have been taken off at half-time, despite him hitting the post in the second half, and possibly need a formation change.

We improved slightly once Xhaka came on, but then Arteta showed poor game management. This performance, in some ways, was akin to the Spurs game. At Spurs we had more clearcut chances but lacked the cutting edge to finish them off. But at Villa, we lacked the energy despite the greater possession, and with some earlier changes, we could have got the win. Or least have not lost as we did.



All managers make errors – but this for me is Arteta’s biggest error thus far. He is learning on the job, but the attitude here was poor and there wasn’t any real spring or energy in our player. Possession alone doesn’t win football matches, and we’ve seen this at Tottenham and now at Aston Villa.


Player ratings

Martinez 7

Soares 4

Luiz 6

Holding 6

Kolasinac 4

Saka 4

Torreira 4

Lacazette 4

Aubameyang 4

Ceballos 4

Nketiah 2

Arteta – 3 – See the point above. Players should be responsible for their own attitude, but the manager is also key in instilling this. As mentioned prior, we were limp, lacked energy, drive, passion, and telling moments.

Pepe – 4

Willock – 3

Xhaka – 5

Tierney – 5


Man of the match


Was solid, and the goal wasn’t really his fault.

We’ll see if Deeney has the “balls” to try and beat us to stay in the division next week……….

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3 Responses to Arteta takes the L as Arsenal prove second best in the second city. (AVL 1-0 ARS)

  1. Norman Englender July 22, 2020 at 2:50 pm #

    Hi….while I agree with you in your summary of our performance – and the game was dreadful to watch – I wondered whether Arteta was playing a political game with our Board.

    There was little or no chance of our getting into Europe via the Premiership so why not use the match to demonstrate the paucity of our secondary y players. Maybe Arteta did not want to actually lose the game but he also does not want the Board and the powers that be to be carried away by our superb results against Liverpool and City into thinking that just the odd tinker with the team will br sufficient.

    From yesterday’s team Kolasinac and Torriera should be sold, Cedric is showing that to have signed him has been a mistake and we should cut our losses, and Lacazette is too hit and miss, only keep him if there is no one better.

    Ozil of course needs to be ditched, and sadly Guendouzi too will have to be sold or used as a swap; what a waste of potentially a really good player, but a bad attitude can only hurt everyone.

  2. Victor Thompson July 24, 2020 at 12:55 am #

    The most glaring fault of all was that Arsenal retreated into the sideways and backward passing typical of Wenger`s latter days. Right away, when Arteta saw that happening and the crablike speed it was carried out at, he should have been at the side of his box screaming at them to play towards Villa`s goal instead of back towards Martinez. A major reason for the change from the Liverpool and City games was his choice for his team. Cecil was hopeless and he panicked every time Grealish came near him. When Xhaka came on it was immediately evident that Torreira should not have been picked. He brings no creativity to the game. Xhaka is now a good midfielder who is the glue in our defence, particularly the midfield. In all, there were 6 changes from the City game and two of them Willock and Mketiah are nowhere near being ready to play Manchester City. Kolasinac is not the player he was when he came to Arsenal. Perhaps it is because he is not good enough to spark some action because he depends on skillful targets to play to, but they are often not there? Young Saha is being destroyed because he is being played some times on both wings or in a half back position close to Kolasinac. He was better as a left back who played with freedom to attack and bring threats to surprised defences. He doesn`t have the physique to compete with determined and more powerful full backs. Maitland Niles is a much better player than Cecil and I was dumbfounded to see that he played whilst MN was on the bench. I am reluctant to blame Arteta for the defeat with Aston Villa and the draw with Leicester but either he took a risk and played the team he did against Villa simply to try out the players he put faith in. He better resort to the personnel he used against City or we can forget being in the Euros this year. I urge him to be ruthless, and stamp out the walking speed sideways and backwards farces that we thought were gone. If they do that against Chelsea, it will be our usual gutless defeat again.

    • Normie July 24, 2020 at 6:02 pm #

      Think about our team against Villa as a political statement.

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