I said to [Dean Smith] congratulations to them and big credit for the way they’ve played. I’ve seen them a lot in the last few days obviously and some of the performances they put in were top drawer. When you’re not at the races and this team is at their best, they have the quality players to hurt you and I think they were really good tonight.
Credit to Mikel Arteta for being honest. Aston Villa were better than Arsenal in every position and collectively as a team. All the good done at Old Trafford was undone yesterday. Mikel Arteta’s team was shocking from start to finish. The worst since his arrival? Definitely.
When Villa cut through us in the fashion they did just after Martin Atkinson blew his whistle to start the game, I feared the worst for the rest of the game. VAR spared our blushes on that occasion, rightly so I hasten to add, but even so their move was all too easy.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had one of his better moments soon after. From the left he sent in a super ball into the box for Willian. If it were rugby, his shot would have been impressive. It wasn’t and, it wasn’t. When Arsenal signed the Brazilian, it made sense to me. Now though, I’m struggling to see what he brings to our team. To make matters worse for him and Arsenal, it was he who gifted Villa possession for their opening goal. Saka is bound to be criticised for his contribution at the end of the move but Willian could have fought harder to win the ball back and so could others before Saka bundled the ball past Leno.
Lacazette, another player underperforming this season, was the next to miss a golden opportunity to score. Tierney whipped a super ball across the box but our French number 9 couldn’t even hit the target with his header. Shocking.
Arsenal fan and Villa striker Ollie Watkins killed the game off in the second half with two good goals. He possesses everything Arsenal don’t have in a striker. Jack Grealish possesses everything Arsenal don’t have as far as creativity goes. Not that Arsenal did much to prevent either of them from having an enjoyable afternoon at The Emirates. In fact the Arsenal players didn’t do much throughout the ninety three minutes at all. The fact that Dani Ceballos was probably our best player says it all.
After the game, Mikel Arteta was brutal with his honesty:
We expect to win every game and this is the standard that we have to set. So if someone believes that winning one or two games is good enough, they’re completely wrong and I’m not going to accept that.
“I’m not going to accept that mindset at all and it’s obviously not what this club deserves. It’s my full responsibility and now I have to find a way to do it.
“I think that since I arrived here, it’s the first time that I’ve felt that we performed really under our standards and what we are trying to set at this football club. It’s unacceptable.
Where does Mikel go from here though?
Of course we need new signings for our attacking unit. We all know that and so will Mikel but he has alternatives in the squad to turn to. Nelson and Willock especially. Both will certainly bring more energy to the side and both will no doubt work a darn sight harder to win the ball back if they lose it than Willian.
What about Aubameyang, who right now looks as miserable as sin when he’s playing? When does Mikel take him out of the team and out of the firing line so to speak? Or would playing centrally just help him score that much needed goal which might see his form return? He’s quality, we all know that but he’s struggling right now.
Ups and downs this season were expected, or at least I expected them but not for one minute did I anticipate such a pathetic showing from this Arsenal squad. Hard work and commitment is what the manager and Arsenal fans want to see but there was none of that on show against Villa. Losing Partey during the game didn’t help I know but him going off didn’t change the game in my opinion. Villa wanted it, Arsenal played like they couldn’t care less. Perhaps one or two of them don’t.
Maybe in the long run it might help us because I strongly suspect a few harsh words will have been said to the players by Mikel after the game. A wake up call perhaps although no player should ever need that.
We could really do without the international break but it is what it is. At least it gives Partey time to recover.
See you in the comments guys.