Arsenal v. Aston Villa: just win the game

We can talk about different styles of play, we can talk about which lineups we want to see, we can fantasize over which players we would like Arsenal to buy this summer, we can moan about referee selection, but the reality is that all that stuff is irrelevant because we just need Arsenal to win this game.

I don’t care if Wenger lines up with a 4-4-2. I don’t care if he sticks to the 4-3-3. I don’t mind if he plays a 4-5-1 or if he goes balls out and plays a 2-4-4. Just win the game.

I don’t care if Arsene starts Andrei Arshavin in the center forward role. I don’t care if he plays Ramsey out of position on the right. I don’t mind if Monreal starts or if Vermaelen is dropped. I don’t care if Mertesacker is played to deal with Benteke. Just win the game.

I don’t care that Arsenal have only won 2 of their last 6 encounters with Villa. I don’t care that Villa is a hoofballl team, third in aerial duels won per game. Or that Villa play 72% of their game down the wings yet are dead last in crosses per game. I don’t care how old Arsenal are, how old Villa is, or whether there is some kind of stat about anything that someone thinks matters. Just win the game.

I don’t care that Edinson Cavani is a dreamboat, that Etienne Capoue is a man of steel, or that Christian Benteke is everyone’s fourth favorite Belgian (Kompany, Hazard, Fellaini, Benteke?). I don’t care if Arsenal have £200m to spend this summer, that they will or they wont spend it or that Wenger will or won’t retire. Just win the game.

And I don’t care that Martin Atkinson hasn’t awarded Arsenal a penalty since 2010 or that he has awarded Aston Villa more penalties than any other team (11 in 26 matches refereed). I don’t care that Atkinson has only ever given Villa one red card while he has given the opposition four and that he’s awarded Arsenal more red cards than any other team he has refereed (5). I don’t care that Jack Wilshere is the fourth most fouled player in the League and that Benteke is the 9th most fouling player in the League. Just win the game.

Tomorrow morning at 7am none of that stuff is relevant. It doesn’t matter if Arsenal tackle more, intercept more, head the ball away more, get into better scoring positions, play more direct, play vertically, play like a footballing crab, play an insanely high line, play deep, get fucked on the calls by Atkinson, get all the breaks, get lucky, deflect a goal in off a player in an offside position, make an error that leads to a goal, flap at a corner, fluff their lines, shoot from distance, don’t shoot, dribble, get wide, put in crosses, hold the ball up well, or finally get a single corner kick into a dangerous area. Just win the game.


63 thoughts on “Arsenal v. Aston Villa: just win the game

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1charybdis1966

    I will be hoping that we just win the god dam game too !

    I’ll be tweeting stuff/pics on the day if I can get reception in the vicinity of the stadium and a report will follow on Sunday – hopefully a victory report; no scratch that it WILL be a victory report ! UTA !

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Simon Says

    Very Well Put. As a crusty old SOB who passed recently once put, Just Win Baby!
    On another note, there’s an interesting interview with Mancini today in the Guardian and one part of it in particular where he criticizes Nasri & Joe Hart play this season, the writer brings up Arsene Wenger in comparsion…
    “It is unusual to hear a manager who is willing to question his players so publicly and it is different, I point out, to someone such as Arsène Wenger, who will always try to protect his own in difficult times. “But I’m not Arsène Wenger. We’re different. I want to win. I think every player should be strong enough to take his responsibility and, like this, you can improve. You don’t improve if you have a manager saying ‘aah, don’t worry, you made a mistake but it doesn’t matter.”
    For once, I would like to see Arsene publicly rebuke his players. They are professionals and are paid a ton of fucking money to play for this club and they can take some constructive criticism once in a while. You don’t need to scapegoat anybody or throw players under the bus like Rodgers has done, but let them know.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +111 cannons (@11cannons)

      I take your point, but even Ferguson is reticent to name and shame individuals by and large. At times he will, but very rarely. I’m more concerned with Vermaelen’s remarks [and I'm paraphrasing] about the players themselves not looking at each other.

      I recall recent commentary by Gary Neville when United conceded a late equalizer to Spurs, citing how at least 3 players could be caught on camera giving De Gea the skunk eye after he flapped that ball back into the middle of the goal mouth, remarking that harsh words were common in the United dressing room.

      That’s where that kind of talk belongs. Perhaps what you’re looking for, and I wholeheartedly agree, is for Wenger to come out and say things like “that performance just wasn’t good enough” “that’s not Arsenal” etc.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      You beat me to the Al Davis quote, which I loved. I should have known a west coast blog would have Raiders fans!

      But I think Mancini calling out Arsene for not improving players is ridiculous. Look at all the players Arsene has improved! Come on, just because Mancini said it doesn’t mean it’s true. Mancini seems to kill players to me. No one gets better at Man City. Ok, no one I can think of right now. And no, I don’t count Clichy because he was way better than he got credit for at Arsenal. Maybe Zabaleta? I don’t know…. no one. Mancini was talking out his ass.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Arsenal Letters

    The Villa bastards are well rested and they might decide to go for a high pressing game. In that case, starting with Diaby will be suicidal.

    I would like Wenger to fucking using Rosicky more often and start with him tomorrow in Cazorla’s position. Move Wilshere a little deeper and pair him with Arteta so that he can do his little bursts from deeper areas if Villa press high. Switch Cazorla wide left. Here is my preferred 11, considering Sagna is injured.




    Walcott……………………………. Rosicky…………………………….Cazorla………………


    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Cazorla is wasted on the wing. Podolski is more effective there.

      Some are suggesting that Rosicky replace Arteta for a bit (play a midfield three of Rosicky, Cazorla, and Wilshere).

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Simon Says

        He played his whole career prior to joining us on the wing for Valcenia, and Malaga. He also fatures there for Spain.
        He only started playing as a no. 10 for us.
        There’s no readon why he shouldn’t be effetive on the wing.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        I think you folks completely misunderstand the term “wasted.” It seems you think I’m saying Cazorla is a terrible winger. He’s not (though he had a stinker there v Munich), but I think we’re a better team when he plays centrally and Podolski plays wide.

        His talent, therefore, is put to better use for the team when he plays in the middle. Hence, it’s wasted on the wing.

        I hope that clears things up.

  4. Vote -1 Vote +1bhota

    can explain why 1. The team cannot defend corners 2. Why mostly our corners fail to beat the first defender 3.Why we have been caught and conceded on the counter attack in big cup games for around six seasons 4.Why Wenger invariably makes bad team selections and formations in key games 5.Why subs only ever come on after 70 minutes irrespective of the state of the match 6. Why we are complacent against “lesser” teams like Birmingham, Bradford and Blackburn 7. Why we have players playing in the wrong positions 8. Why Wenger persisted with Almunia, Fabianski and Diaby 9. Why he bought Santos and Park and 10.Why if no money was available he suddenly found it to buy Monreal and Mertesacker, Santos etc immediately after the 8-2 thrashing at OT. Just a few to be going on with- there’s load of others, but no matter. Any “net spend/ regime- Stan’s the culprit/show me the proof” answers will confirm your collective insanity once and for all and you will all then be welcomed as life presidents of the “Untold Arsenal” site.

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Andrew Crawshaw

    You are,as usual, spot on. Lets just win the game. Don’t care how, just win it!
    Atkinson owes us big time this year, three goals by Chelsea from wrong calls, thats four of the five points they are shead of us, but I wouldn’t count on the mistakes to be corrected tomorrow.
    Just win it

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Skyranger

    I want a bucket load of chances and the winning goal coming from a penalty with a Villa player sent off after a last man foul. …………..c’mon gooners

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Geoff

    Thank you Tim for a well written and informative post, how on earth do you find the time to do all your research as well as live your life?

    Incredible and much appreciated!

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1IcelandicGooner

    Hi Tim – great post as always.

    I´m an avid reader but don´t comment that much. I asked a question earlier in the goonerholic drinks and was wondering if anyone here had the answer. Here goes:

    Does anyone know why they only use one ball in the premier league?.

    What I am trying to say is when the ball goes out of play in the league we have to wait for a ball boy or the keeper to go get it. In the Champions League there are balls all over the place so as soon as the ball goes out of play a new ball gets thrown to the keeper/corner taker and so on. This might be one of the reason the added time in the CL is usually less than in the EPL.

    One would think that having more balls available would help teams like Arsenal when the bus-parkers try time wasting.

    Does anyone know why this is? And if you haven´t noticed – check it out tomorrow.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Icelandic Gooner

        Thats what I thought. But why? I mean surely teams like Arsenal would benefit from being able to take throw-ins and goal kicks quickly.

        One thing I heard was that it was open to abuse (what isn´t) so that on throw-ins the away teams get wet balls and the home team dry balls and so on.

        Anyway – thanks. and thank you for your commitment to this blog. Happy Travels to Munich – you were at the Liverpool game last year, which we won – so I´m hoping that you bring our team some luck.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    When was the last time Arsenal scored an early goal….upped the lead by half time…and played easy the second half…brought in a defensive midfielder in the 60th minute, rested key players in the 75th minute…scored the killer in the 82nd minute, introduced a youngster in the 89th minute…and took the ball to corner flag in the 92nd minute…and said…we were in control of the game through out…???

    Can I have something as boring as that today?? Please?

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    Was just reading the morning’s transfer rumors and ended up on whoscored.com when I noticed an interesting trend. The following players have concentration or discipline listed as a weakness:

    Szcznesny Weak
    Mannone Weak
    Mertesacker Weak
    Vermaelen Weak
    (Santos) Very Weak
    Jenkinson Weak (Discipline)
    Koscielny Weak (Discipline)
    (Frimpong) Weak (Discipline)
    Diaby Weak (Concentration) Very Weak (Discipline)
    Ramsey Very Weak

    The players that had those qualities as a strength are Monreal, Arteta, Wilshere, & get ready… Squillaci. Anyways, a disturbing trend, especially at the back for us with our 3 ‘first choice’ CBs in there, and I think reinforces the idea we need electroshock collars in training.

    I bring it up because, I think we should ease past this Villa side, but what worries me is that we get lazy and lose focus. I actually fear the reverse of our normal habit, and can see us coming out strong only to concede a stupid goal or two late because we’ve switched off.

    I hope Tim’s message gets to the team and they carry a ‘Just Win’ mentality through the match and kill this one off. Come on Arsenal!!

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Thank you Cazorla overcoming the dour faces on Aesenal players in the tunnel, Wenger once again struggling with his zipper, empty stands, and Martin Atkinson looking to be very charitable.

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    We look terrible. Yes, we’re currently 1-0 up (at 35 minutes), but we’re losing possession everywhere, exposed at the back, and not creating anything. It’s been some time (like a couple of weeks) since I’ve seen us play this poorly.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Also, a midfield with Diaby is a weak midfield. I realize Arteta has also misplaced a couple of passes, but Diaby is such a liability.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

        Diaby needs the games and can pick a pass. In fairness we really don’t have a DM out there and every Weimann run is like a hot knife through butter. The back four are just too exposed on every Villa counter.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Glowworm

        We have no shape whatsoever: Chaos is Us! The neutrals must love watching us against just any opponents. Boring, boring Arsenal has been banished.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    HT: Why can’t Podolski start a match these days? I’d bring on Rosicky for Arteta, Podolski for Diaby, and move Cazorla to the middle, because this current formation / personnel mix is just not working…

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    As the announcers pointed out, every corner is a 4 on 3 counter for Villa and that man Weimann absolutely punishes an Arsenal team whose possession is poor quality.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Finally the urban myth that Arsenal have quality players comes to rest on the shoulders of Cazorla who is quality personified.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    We won. Big f**king whoop. We still looked like shite and this win should in no way cover over just how poor we looked against the 2nd worst offensive and defensive side in the league.

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1Gooneryank

    Oliver Giroud has perfected his “I can’t believe I didn’t score” face. Now if he could work on the other…that would be nice. Also, for me, the stubbornness of Arsene has finally been proven. Not because of player selection, tactics, formations or substitutions. It’s about the coat. You’ve been struggling with that zipper since Christmas. Get a new one. Lastly, being a Pole, I really wanted to like Szczesny, I really did. Sadly, he is shit. His job is to make the tough save. Command the area. Direct the defense. I see none of that. Twenty four years and I can’t remember being more down about the state of our club than I am today. We’ve been sprayed by a skunk and it’s going to take a bunch of tomato juice baths to remove this loser stink. I want to be happy with this victory today. Just can’t muster it.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Great to get 3 points, but, my word, we were dreadful. Just dreadful. And that was one of the shittiest Aston Villa sides of the last 4 years.

    Apart from Cazorla and Wilshere we were poor from front to back. Szczesny needs to take a few weeks off…oh, but wait, we have no reliable cover. Arteta also needs to rest for a while. Oh, but wait, we have no reliable cover… Giroud needs a challenger to his place…oh, but wait…

    Wenger has put together a distinctly average team without any depth whatsoever.

  19. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Can we just stop the madness with Diaby. The cliche about the dictionary definition of injury is to show a picture of Diaby remains true today as it was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, last decade.

  20. Vote -1 Vote +11NiltotheArsenal

    we were more exposed today getting 3 points against Villa than losing to Bayern. I’ll never complain about not dropping points and getting an expected result, but watching that was like chewing glass.

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    Whew! Narrow escape. Agree with Bunburyist except about Giroud. Yes, there were a handful of lamentable chances he should have converted – independent of today he needs to improve his conversion rate from 7 shots per goal or whatever. But a lot of our best play came from him controlling the ball in isolation high up the pitch for a flick on and he would follow up with quality movement for a quick 1-2. That and a few counter-attacks were our only quality movement where we showed pace & directness. I wanted to smack Arteta around 42′ when he had an easy through ball in the attacking third but decided to slow it down and play around the outside.

    There were a handful of things to like today but a lot more to be worried about. For the first 10 minutes our pressing was aggressive but as soon as we score, its cruise control on. Until wait… we have a lapse in concentration, concede, and wake up again. For the amount of money our players make, they have no concept of what “work” is.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

      I completely agree wrt Giroud. Some of those one-touch layoffs in and around the box are just mouthwatering.

      That’s exactly what we need in a centre forward, in my books, someone who can play with back to goal and chip a ball into the onrushing wingers. (If they ever bloody rushed anywhere.)

      Think the chip to Podolski for THAT volley, the one-two today, you know the one I’m talking about (with Santi?), and all those little dinks with Jack. He’s an extremely valuable player up-front. So much so that I never want to see Theo start there while we still have Giroud.

      Anyway, horrible win today. Love it.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Fair point about Giroud. I was referring to his finishing. Is it the case that we don’t have a real finisher at the club? Or that we do but this player is currently not being played as a central striker?

      However, I do appreciate Giroud’s intelligent passing, hold-up play, and movement. He’s a committed player and I like him. I just wish there was more competition for that area. One more striker would really help the squad.

  22. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    For all the alleged quality that Arsenal possess, only Cazorla (MOTD) and Wilshere put in consistent displays today. Walcott, non-factor (NF), Sczezsny (liability), Vermaelen (NF), Jenkinson (NF), Diaby (NF), Arteta (NF).

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. That performance left a lot to be desired… but honestly the reviews on here are pretty over the top. If anyone other than Cazorla remembered how to shoot today that one would have been a landslide. The only real failings were the midfield refusing to track back and SZCZ’s non-save.

      Jenkinson kept Agbonlahor pretty much quiet, no easy task considering how his pace has destroyed us in the past. He had 5 tackles and an 85% pass rate… not bad. Especially with how little he has played the last few months. Jenks had a good game.

      Diaby had a couple bad give aways, but overall he tracked back better than Arsenal’s other midfielders from what I saw, and his possession play was good. He needs more confidence to play the ball forward and shoot when he had the chance, but he did some key covering in the first half while Arteta and Wilshere were taking it easy tracking back. And while I would like to see Arteta covering deeper rather than pushing forward sometimes, he did have 7 interceptions and 2 tackles, so he was definitely a factor defensively… and as always, kept the ball well with his passing.

      I can’t argue that I wouldn’t have liked to see more from Szcz, Verm and even Walcott (jogging back lackadaisically from the corner on AV’s goal was almost Denilson-esque) but Walcott also had some great balls in the box that should have been converted.

      On the whole this was one of those games where Arsenal lacking fluidity and finishing in the opposition’s box made the whole team look worse than they were… and of course the midfield three/five need to work much harder to protect the defense. But we had 26 shots, and how many times did we get it in good positions and not shoot? Plenty. Also, AV only had 8 shots, 3 on target… so it’s not like they created chance after chance, even with our defensive weakness.

      I think this one was a classic Arsenal game where we played well enough to crush them except in front of goal, made a couple high profile mistakes, and had an unrelentingly negative commentator all combine to give a worse picture than it was. Yes, there were weaknesses (and they were many of the same ones we have seen so often), but there was plenty of good as well.

      And we won, which is better than Everton can say. Chelsea play Man Citi tomorrow, Tottenham are at West Ham… could be a good weekend for the Gooners.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        Really good point about Jenkinson. I remember at one point in the game Agbonlahor dashed full speed down the wing, and Jenkinson matched him stride for stride. Incredibly stuff, because Agbonlahor is one of the fastest sprinters in the game. Reminded me of a game four or five years ago when Rosicky tracked Cristiano Ronaldo at full speed and won the ball. Inspiring.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

        The reason I’m distressed is that we failed to cure what ails us – the infamous “mental strength”, the consistency, and the will to dominate & kill a game off that we’re going to need if we intend on finishing 4th. I commented before the game on the number of players we have that are rated ‘weak’ for concentration on Whoscored & it showed today.

        Clearly, the team worked on transitions and pressing in training, because it was good and aggressive for the first 10 minutes or so (bar Cazorla and, strangely, Diaby who was fast to close & strong in the tackle throughout, until he got Diaby’d).

        But then we got complacent, and that’s the real rub. Villa didn’t capitalize on our lazy attitude until late because they’re Villa. There’s enough talent in this side, (and Villa are that bad) that we should have thrashed them at least 4-0 if we were firing on all cylinders.

        So we knew what the problem was, tried to address it, but failed to perform and narrowly escaped. I’ll take the 3 points, but better is needed if we’re going to win a pivotal game next week against Twattenham.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1craig

        I can’t really argue with the overall point, but I do think that a lack of finishing gave a worse picture than the reality of the game was. Giroud needs to turn with the ball more, and needs to stop trying to out muscle multiple players when an easy pass is there. The entire front line doesn’t seem to know where each other are going to be. We cross the ball way too often. But Arsenal dominated that game and created many, many chances even with those problems. Aston Villa are professionals, though. Agbonlahor has given us plenty of problems and Benteke has scored plenty of goals. We kept both of them quiet and gave up a bad goal, but didn’t allow Villa many chances over all. Yeah, it wasn’t a great performance, but with better finishing we’d all be celebrating a big win and saying how well the whole team played…. so I don’t think it’s right to be too negative about the overall performance. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either… and throughout 4/5ths of the pitch, Arsenal were dominant.

        As we have pretty much all been saying there were three weaknesses -finishing, midfield covering the defense, and goalkeeping…. remind anyone of Tim’s transfer columns? But don’t let that obscure all the other areas of the game, where we owned Villa. There was a lot we did very right today, too. The fullbacks were good, Mert was good, the midfield played pretty well going forward, Cazorla was awesome, Jack was pretty good, Arteta did a lot well, Ramsey showed plenty of versatility in only 30 minutes, Walcott created a golden chance or two, Diaby played a better defensive shift even than his stats show (and they look alright), the team responded very well to giving up a goal, and we won.

  23. Vote -1 Vote +1highburyterracesteve

    Did Diaby leave the pitch injured? If so, I guess we’ve already made our first (like a new) signing of the summer…..

    Cannot disagree that those were some of the ugliest 3 points I’ve seen, but some of the most needed. Let’s go Fat Sam and his bubble boys on MNF so they’ve got their own doubts to focus on come the derby…. I salute the braveness of the Gooners who will put this week (and everything else) behind them to give full voiced support at the Lane. Big match, that….

  24. Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid

    Like Tim said, “Just win”, and we won.

    Did you guys expect us to suddenly be transformed into team with an organized defensive unit and clinical finishers after 6+ years of the same. It’s not going to happen, regardless of whom we purchase. It’s only going to happen when and if we change the coaching philosophy, so my friends, expect nothing else than our customary roller coast rides.

    Enjoy the highs and drink through the lows.

  25. Vote -1 Vote +1Jake

    How did we become so bad at defending? Every time our opponents get a corner, I feel they will get a chance to score. Yet how often do we score from a corner. How many corners did we get against Blackburn? It’s embarrassing.

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