Fabregas Torments Villa As Arsenal March On
Arsenal 3 – 0 Aston Villa
1 – 0 Fabregas (65)
2 – 0 Fabregas (81)
3 – 0 Diaby (90)
Aston Villa arrived on their chariot, conquering all-comers in the notional and current top four, leaving The Emirates firmly on the back foot, acquiring knowledge that their progress, whilst substantial, needs to take a giant step forwards if silverware is to be added. Functional in their approach, they were undone by a solid Arsenal performance, one of the best in terms of containment, compressing the opposition and then stretching them, turning the handles of the rack until the defence was snapped.
Centre stage was taken by Cesc Fabregas, lead actor for an imposing half an hour, yet missing for anywhere between days and weeks. No-one yet knows but the spectre of losing Alex Song and his captain, is materialising in front of Wenger. The manager is, at the moment, rightly unrepentant about introducing the Spaniard into the fray, the result producing evidence of the correctness of his decision. Points gained in his continued absence will assess whether it was faith or folly.
The match itself began as it continued; Eduardo found space in the area following a silky dragback and turn by Diaby, shooting weakly at Freidel. The Croat is this seasons’ Bendtner; devoid of finishes that we know he is capable of, unafraid to take the lead to put himself time and again in the position to miss. Notionally on the left side of the attack, Eduardo is adept at turning up anywhere along the forward line, left, right and centre within moments of the game, adding his value through workrate.
Villa’s defence though was effective in marginalising Arshavin. The wit and guile of recent weeks was absent from the Russian’s game in the first half, a forty-five minute spell where he buffetted and bulwarked by Dunne and Cuellar. Denilson, Nasri and Diaby all fluttered around the midfield, the deft touch of butterflies masking their determination and strength in the challenge. Behind them, Song provided an effective barrier to an almost full-strength Arsenal defence. When the midfield wall was breached, Villa created little threat, the most dangerous of which was created through indecision on Arsenal’s part, the ball eventually cleared to safety after a Gentleman’s Excuse Me from Almunia, Song and Sagna.
The second half threatened more of the same until the introduction of Fabregas. Immediately, the captain proved to be a colossus, belying the notion that the only big players Arsene need look at are those physically so. Big of heart and mind, he provided a cutting edge, a probing run drawing a foul from Dunne. The shortest of run-ups ended with the sweetest of strikes, lifting the ball over the wall and into the corner from whence Freidel had organised his wall. Poor goalkeeping position to face the kick? Yes. Would he have stopped the shot if he were correctly placed? No such was the accuracy of the Fabregas’ effort.
Such moments turn games. Arsenal became more dominant with Villa rocking. Arshavin and Eduardo combined on the left, the Croat racing to the byeline, Fabregas created panic between Dunne and Freidel, Cuellar blocking once more a goalbound effort. The second came in the last time. Traore picked the ball up just outside the Arsenal area, releasing a fifty metre pass that his captain would have been proud of. Walcott picked the pace up with Fabregas inside, providing the ball at perfect pace for the Spaniard to run onto and slide past the advancing Villa ‘keeper. In the process, tweaking his hamstring, willing through the obvious discomfort to produce the match winning advantage.
Villa responded with an effort almost carbon in copy of Agbonlahor’s goal last season. This time though, he was thwarted by the athleticism of Almunia, having been robustly challenged by Gallas. Credit to the young forward for holding off the tackle to get to his feet so quickly. Ashley Young can only hold his head in shame for the manner with which he calculatedly hit the turf in a blatant dive, rightly earning himself a booking which means he misses the upcoming fixture with Liverpool. A fitting punishment for such cowardice.
The win was sealed as Fabregas’ replacement, Ramsey, and Nasri combined to free Diaby. Gliding across the turf as freely as a Bustard through the air, the Frenchman strode unopposed through the Villa half, accepting the invitation as the defence backed off, to curl the ball past Freidel.
Three points were crucial to turn the screw on Chelsea as they will be against Portsmouth on Wednesday. A margin of four points with a game in hand to the leaders was an unlikely outcome for the end of the year following the home defeat to Chelsea, according to the sage and wise pundits on our screens. Humble pie is not yet being eaten but is being cooked into a delicious treat for them.
Last evening, the lifeforce was extracted from my body in listening to the diatribes from those whose lobotomy’s were reversed with nothing inserted, encouraged by Gabrielle Marcotti’s constant denuding of the forward line’s talent, deriding them as ‘Smurfs‘. As easy as it would be to respond in kind, I’ll leave those of a more vindictive bent to take the suitable course of revenge for such cheap chatter.
Quite often I am accused of having glasses, the hue of which is rose in colour. Those who persistently desire the return of Patrick Vieira need to re-assess their own eyewear. We remember Patrick very fondly in ACLF Towers yet never lose sight of the fact that he is no longer the player that he once was; unquestionably powerful in his prime, injury-prone in his fading years.
Midfield is a precarious position for the club for four weeks whilst injuries heal and Alex Song vacates his slot in the first team. Wenger admitted any more absences may produce a short-term requirement but a forward remains his priority, as does, I suspect, cover at centre back.
Posted on December 28, 2009, in Arsenal, Aston Villa, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Aston Villa, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 164 Comments.