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Villa 2-4 Arsenal - Match Report

Aston Villa
2 - 4

Villa Park

27/11/10 12:45

Attendance: 38, 544


I've never really been quick to praise Arsene Wenger, but you really can't deny how much Arsenal have developed under his tutelage.

They play brilliant football, although it's not particularly nice when your team is on the end of it, and sometimes you just have to admit that you were beaten by the better team, which I believe Gerard Houllier himself has come out and said in his post-match interview.

The fact of the matter is that it really was men against boys at times, especially in the first half, and while our young prospects were on the end of a different type of lesson this time 6 days ago, you would hope that today will provide another cornerstone in their footballing education.

We certainly weren't short of effort, but you don't get good results against the big 4 by just working hard. We need to take our chances and we, overall, need more of an end product.

So yes, while we do have a good future, as after all they do have Gordon Cowans, Kevin MacDonald and Tony McAndrew to learn from and devolp under, that's all it is for now, a future.

This is also the first time I can remember that we have played one of the big 4 and not got over 40,00. Is this the first, very early sign of unrest of the Houllier era? I hope not, as he needs time to build his team and, without wanting to wish mine of any other Villa fans' lives away, every game we play is a step closer to January and that process beginning.

Speaking of the attendance, I have to leave a special message of contempt to the smug sod of an Arsenal fan sat in the row in front of me a few seats away who kept giving everyone who dared criticise his beloved Arsenal, who never even hid the fact that he wasn't going to celebrate any of the Villa goals and who left the ground with the biggest grin on his face you've ever seen. That's another thing I hate about playing the big 4 at home, away fans in the home end.

Considering our current injury crisis, I wouldn't have been that upset if you'd have said to me that the only reason Villa lost in the end was because of Arsenal's skilful counter-attacking due to a spirited fightback, but the defence that we put out today was our first choice, normal defence, and that is tremendously disappointing.

Now, there wasn't much to talk about from a Villa perspective in the first half (which is why I've left talking about the actual match until now!), as Villa made a terrible start and Warnock gave the Villa faithful a sign of what was to come as his misplaced pass gave Arshavin the chance to put Chamakh through but our Brad rushed out to his feet to prevent Villa going one down in the opening minute.

Rosicky and Nasri also went close with the latter absolutely tearing Stephen Warnock apart at times, and although Villa did have a chance through Ashley Young after Clark flicked on Disco Stu's cross, nobody inside Villa Park was really surprised when Arsenal took the lead.

The diminutive little Russian ran down Villa's left-hand side without having anyone near him and ghosted past stand-in captain Richard Dunne with terrifying ease before finishing at Friedel's far post.

I think most of the Villa faithful, going on past form, thought that this might prove the catalyst for Villa waking up and actually taking the game to Arsenal, but it wasn't to be as the Frenchman who terrorised England at Wembley, Samir Nasri, rounded Brad Friedel almost straight after Arsenal scored and missed, badly. He soon made up for it though.

Virtually on the half-time whistle, Arsenal took and corner and with Nasri given the freedom of Villa Park, he picked the edge of the penalty area to stand and volley home via an unlucky deflection off Luke Young.

The first-half ended with Brad Friedel making a fantastic save from a close-range Chamakh header, that, in all honesty, should have made it 3-0 and game over.

Villa were booed off at half-time and although I didn't join in with it myself, it was a deserved verdict from the paying faithful of an absolutely shocking first-half 'performance'.

Villa seemed to have a bit more fire in their belly at the start of the second-half, as Nathan Delfouneso replaced the ineffectual Robert Pires as Houllier changed to two strikers, and found themselves back in the game unexpectedly quickly, on the evidence of the first-half showing at least, after Ciaran Clark volleyed a fantastic effort from the edge of the penalty area past 'Flappyhandski' and into the back of the net.

The joy was short-lived however as minutes later Chamakh slotted past Friedel to restore Arsenal's two gaol advantage, in what was shaping up to be a very entertaining second-half of football.

Villa again fought back with twenty minutes left in the game, as Clark got himself on the score-sheet for the second time after narrowly managing to bundle the ball home after Richard Dunne managed to knock-on a corner.

Stephen Ireland also got the final twenty minutes and sprayed some nice passes about and, in my opinion at least, looked genuinely comfortable. It's probably safe to say that Ireland contributed more to the team in the time he was on than Pires did in the entire first-half, although how difficult that was is open to debate.

As Villa pushed forward to try and find a equaliser, there was always a niggly possibility that Arsenal would get another goal on the counter-attack and so it proved when Jack Wilshere nodded in a cross unmarked from close-range.

So, we've got a break from trying to earn league points in midweek as we make a short trip to B9 in what promises to be a feisty battle for a place in the Carling Cup semi-finals. I hope that we can at least use the fact that it's not a league game to get rid of some of the shackles and play a bit. If we do, I'm confident we can win as we have better players than Blues, even with our injury crisis, but by god, don't we know that it'll be nerve-wracking?

So, that just about wraps things up for this week, with just the ratings left to fill in. I've tried to change the style of how I write for this slightly, as I want to try and spark more comment and debate as I know that many people watch the game somehow anyway so I'm not sure many people want to read just a summary of the match. If anyone has any comments about what the think of this report or if they think I should go back to the style of previous reports, feedback would be much appreciated.

Star Player

Ciaran Clark

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 6


Luke Young 6


Stephen Warnock 5


Richard Dunne 6


James Collins 7


Stuart Downing 6


Ashley Young 6


Ciaran Clark 8


Barry Bannan 6


Robert Pires 5


John Carew 5


Nathan Delfouneso 6


Stephen Ireland 6


Chris Herd N/A


Date:Saturday November 27 2010
Time: 6:07PM


outstanding match report mate. Ratings look fair as well, thought Downing (I'm a fan) was anon today though
The Fear
27/11/2010 18:23:00
MON has totally screwed our season. But with that said, he cannot be blamed for players not being able to pass to their own team mates, though perhaps he can as he signed most of them! We will never beat a team like Arsenal - who, as said above, were different class, - if we continue to pass the ball to them more often than our players. First half there was no urgency and no pattern to our play. I agree the second half was better and after Ireland came on I wondered if maybe Houllier has found his 'team' at least until most of the injured return. Carew was a waste of space again, Delfounessa deserves a run and Ireland actually looked more interested than before. Thought the comments above on Pires were a bit harsh, and just hope he is still building fitness.
27/11/2010 18:30:00
Good match rating and report, Clark definately MOTM, Ireland and delfouneso brought the team back to life for 20mins but wasnt enough in the end. Holte139 i no plently of people who would of decked the fake villa/arsenal supporter, Im not condoling violence btw :P
27/11/2010 18:31:00
Last word - who was the ref? I thought he was one of the better ones I have seen this season.
27/11/2010 18:32:00
Entertaining match and very good report. All the best to Villa in their remaining fixtures.
27/11/2010 19:01:00
I thought it was policy to remove away fans fif they were sitting in the home end?
27/11/2010 19:47:00
The new reports are really good :) Just have to say Bannan at a 6? He was really awful today (gonna be a star someday but today he couldn't land a pass and got dominated physically in every challenge). Its also a bit tough to rate Pires and Carew at 5 - Clark and Bannan were dominated in midfield so the quality of possession for them was shocking. We got 0 crosses into Carew and expecting Pires to beat 4/5 defenders from the half way line with his back to goal is a bit unfair. Brad was good today, he got a hand to the first goal and possibly should have saved it but besides that he bailed out our defense big time. Not much to say about our defense, our midfield left them exposed but they lacked the pace to cope with the Gunners. Guttered but there are so many good signs with the team. Just need to start converting our good play into points otherwise we might be in trouble this year...
27/11/2010 20:57:00
Carew was woefull today, didnt run on to anything, won no headers he was dreadfull
27/11/2010 22:34:00
Tough result to take, but im pretty certain things will turn around for us over the christmas period. Houllier has set things up nicely i think, and when a few of our more experienced players come back, i think we will have the right blend to get results, bit of patience. Win against blues put our season back on track?
27/11/2010 23:11:00
Why even bother with Carew? Hate the bloke for not trying. We had Dunne up there at the end, but if we need a big man up, Collins can head the ball and would try to get to everything. Shame on Carew, he is a disgrace. He could hav ewel easy lost us a goal by faking injury and then standing in from the their keeper in an offside position. Dumb as well then.
27/11/2010 23:13:00
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