From Vilified to Villa Pride

Arshavin ’38
Nasri ’44
Chamakh ’55
Wilshere ’90
Clark ’51, ’70

Arsenal went top of the table on Saturday afternoon with a scintillating away win at Villa Park.

Aston Villa, unbeaten at home in the league and with results against both Chelsea and Manchester United already this season, came into this biting cold lunchtime kick-off looking for another ‘Top Four’ feather for their cap. But, with a week’s worth of ‘crisis’ column inches laid and lit beneath them, Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal were in no snood to be plucked. Sorry…they were in no mood to be plucked. Right from the kick-off Arsenal set about Villa with the unmistakable energy of proud men slighted.

Cesc Fàbregas is impossible to replace ‘like for like’ and Arsenal adapted to his absence accordingly – farming his manifold responsibilities out across the midfield.   Skipper for the day Tomáš Rosický shouldered the lion’s share of these with a rousing Captain’s performance. An ever-present fulcrum, always in space, he traversed the Villa ranks, as calm an architect as ever – with added punch in the tackle and verve around the box.

Arsenal conjured eight attempts on Villa’s goal in the opening 30 minutes. They weren’t there to f*ck about, and they weren’t about to die wondering.

The attacking midfield triumvirate of Nasri, Rosický and Arshavin were poised like a diamond cutting edge on a circular saw, just inches above the MDF of Aston Villa’s defence, yet; it was the solid platform of the workbench beneath that afforded them so many openings. Jack Wilshere was understated but nigh on metronomic with his quick, short passing in the centre of the pitch – and; partnering him there, Alex Song showed sublime balance in the tackle as he dispossessed all-comers with the easy subtlety and intelligent strength that leaves the Karl Henrys of this world rocking gently back-and-forth in their padded cells murmuring, “if only…”

So much of the victory today, though, must be credited to Arsenal’s two flying wing-backs. Like ‘little friendlies’ on the flanks of our unstoppable B52, not only did they shackle their respective wingers out of the game, but, by forcing the issue so high up the pitch, they won continuous and invaluable possession for their midfield to make use of. It cannot be overstated how far these two set us apart.

The pressure on Aston Villa’s goal was incessant and direct. Corner after corner was won. Broken down attacking possession was recycled and recycled again by a markedly industrious Arsenal and in the 38th minute the breakthrough came. Andrei Arshavin, pouncing on a defensive lapse, latched onto a ball over the top and hit the rockets down the left. He cut inside and danced into the box in trademark fashion. Appearing through the tundra, our very own Yuri Zhivago then fired an unstoppable, low shot beneath three despairing challenges – stunning Friedel’s left glove as it fizzed like a well primed sling-shot into the bottom corner of the net. “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Straight from the restart it could have been two as Arshavin, undoubtedly playing the game of his season so far, sent a slide-rule through-ball bisecting two lines of Villa defence. The pass pulled up perfectly for Samir Nasri to rip through on goal and round the goalkeeper – only to hit the side netting from a tight angle.

Minutes later and Chamakh was climbing brilliantly to fire a header at goal from a pinpoint Bacary Sagna cross. Friedel parried round the post with a hair-trigger reaction save at just about point blank range but his Alamo heroics were just driftwood in the dam as an inspired Arshavin found Nasri with the resulting corner. It was teed-up straight from the training ground and the French international volleyed home viper-like from just inside the box. Hit on the bounce the ball flew in beneath the defender, whipping past the post and thumping against the back of the net.

Villa mustered a goal back after half-time, a cracking volley from Ciaran Clark, aided albeit by an offside sight-line blocker in the form of John Carew – but Arsenal weren’t in the mood for any of that and their two goal cushion was soon restored. Chamakh’s hard graft rewarded as he bravely finished a superb, flowing Arsenal passing move –Rosický with a wonderfully weighted assist to spring the trap.

Even before Ciaran Clark rallied Villa for one final Frankenstein lurch of animation with a nodded second off the underside of the crossbar, Arsenal were searching for the fourth. There is real genius on show as Nasri makes mincemeat out of Richard Dunne but the chances aren’t taken as the final ten minutes loom. Evasive manoeuvres now and Gibbs and Denilson are sent into the fray to sure-up the 3 points. Koscielny and Squillaci at times seem like a pair of twin Shaquille O’Neals in defence, and Villa just aren’t getting through – not in their house… not today.

In the final minute of the game Arsenal’s fondness for defending on the front foot proves not as green as it is cabbage looking, Jack Wilshere heading in at the back post from a calm, lofted pass from Chamakh – a final and thorough flaying of the Villa defence.

A stylish, well-deserved victory then, to make midweek’s moaning Minnies look rather foolish and reactionary. More than that though; a timely psychological re-sit of a recently failed exam, passed with flying colours.    

It was once said of Hugo Meisl’s Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ of the early 1930s that, “soccer became almost an exhibition, a sort of competitive ballet, in which scoring goals was no more than the excuse for the weaving of a hundred intricate patterns.” Well, this Arsenal team has long since woven ballet with the best of them – but it’s the thirst for victory, palpable for 90 minutes on Saturday, that will lift the hearts of the red and white army today… and the same unwavering, undaunted resolve that puts us all right back in the running of a wide open title race.

As LL Cool J once so famously said; “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”.

Enjoy your Sunday! 

Posted on November 28, 2010, in Arsenal. Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. Chamakh is our Drogba now. first name on the sheet.

  2. and what is it with hairstyles. Arshavin clearly loves playin with long shaggy hair.

  3. its called passion by the way. the reason people moan after a couple o bad reasults. i havnt a problem with a bit of moaning after a defeat. i havnt a problem with people moaning about the moaners either.

  4. Henri Lansbury’s on BBC One. If you’re bored of Chelsea losing games.

  5. Clichy had an ok game but you forgot to mention for their first goal that he buggered off to sign an autograph which allowed Clark to shoot.

  6. Great review of a stirring performance. For me, Arshavin was our man of the match, but the whole of the front six performed excellently as a unit. The fact that Ashley Young and Stewart Downing were kept so quiet speaks volumes for a defence which looked occasionally shaky, but was vastly improved on the last couple of games.

    We now have five really good away wins under our belts. The title challenge is back on again – in truth it was never really off.

  7. Excellent win yesterday!

    Thought Arsene made some astute subs.

    I have no problem with the team bing more defensive and waiting for our chances to counter.

    The team didnt play a bad defensive game as some are saying (duke), we played well. This is a good match to build upon.


  8. Great read…..”our very own Yuri Zhivago”, “appearing through the tundra”, “cabbage looking”?, “a pair of Shaquille O’Neals”…….hahahaha.

    It certainly was a stirring performance, at least in the 1st half.

  9. Well, well, well. The pensioners of Chelsea drop points to the Geordies.
    Keep waxing rhetorically LA. Nobody else will do it for us. Come on you mighty Gunners. Just go on a run and see how far we can go. Come on!

  10. Limpars – See you been watching that handsome Omar Sharif as Yuri Zhivago. Showing your age. Tut, Tut Tut.

  11. We now need to consolidate a good result yesterday by beating Fulham next week. Chelsea have just dropped more points and Alex is apparently going to have knee surgery meaning we could very well play Chelsea with both of their first choice centre backs out.

    Things are quite so bad as they’ve been portrayed.

  12. aren’t not are!

  13. Rosicky was not great. He missed two obvious chances which could have changed the course of the game. Nothing special.

  14. Clichy contained Ashley Young. Funny seeing running to the centre where he even less of a threat. But it’s getting hard on the nerves. 2:1 then 3:2! Lets keep it tight. Manutd seems the threat at the moment so we’ve got to beat them on the 13th. But Tuesday first!

  15. A very colourfull discription of the game, i believe i was watching a diferent game to you, first half was as you said but the second, we came out edgy and looked worried and this is befor we kicked off, the flair we showed in the first half had dissapeared as quick as the halftime orange, it continued like that untill they scored, Clichey should be shot for backing off,that goal has Clichey’s name on it and he should be shown that every day for the rest of the season.
    When we attack our forwards are slow to get forward is Wenger fineing them for straying in the box, we have forwards who find it hard to get a shot off the ground and any faster than a zimmer frame user, the first five chances we had left the boot with zero tollerance, we struggled to a win but a slightly better team on another day and it would have been a different result,i would say a team in progress

  16. good result but the worry for me is the gunners keep leaking goals…have a read of Arsenal’s Defensive Disaster: Should Wenger Now Start Havard Nordtveit?

  17. Seven point gap evaporates. Onward and upward.

  18. Steve, Clichy had someone to his left that could’ve been given a pass and scored just as easily. The whole back line was at fault because they all backed off. But don’t let that get in the way of your finger pointing. By the way, that goal should’ve been flagged offside since Carew was interfering with play.

  19. G69
    Never leave it to sombody else, that only results in goals

  20. @G69
    Yeah, why is nobody talking about Chelsea’s crisis? They do not seem to be able to get over it! 3 losses, one draw and just one victory in their last 5 PL games. Why aren’t the tabloids all over it? If that was us, we couldn’t save ourselves from the bad press.

  21. I have only seen the highlights, but Carew picked himslef up very slowly and then quite deliberately placed himslef in front of Fabianski, undoubtedly to block his view of the ball.

    Why was it not given offside?

    I suspect that it happens so rarely, the refs have forgotten the rule.

    They should be reminded that the rule still exists and it is as enforceable as all the others.

  22. @jjbsol
    Well, maybe the ref was trying to make up for his mistake on Wilshere. Handball in the box, after all.

    Though I really do not think we can complain about Clattenburg. He did control the game quite well.

  23. Spuds have lost two players to injury before half-time (VDV and Kaboul). Now they are beginning to feel what it is like to play in two big competitions during a single season. But they have been too busy gloating over the past week to see the wheels slowly falling off.

  24. Nasir Jones-Nasri

  25. Spoke not a moment too soon; Pool 1-0.
    ….wheels slowly falling off.

  26. Would it, theoretically, be possible for us to play the Sp*ds in the first CL round? Now that is a fixture I would thoroughly enjoy.

  27. Great match between Spuds and ‘pool. Anyone think Gibbs could do a “Bale” and become a winger? He wasn’t a defender initially.

  28. Evil teams from the same domestic league can’t meet before the quarters!

  29. I know i may sound anti Arsenal,in my comments but i can asure you i am not, but if we cannot be honest with fellow Gooners theres no point writing.
    The positives Alex Song, classed as a defensive midfielder, he is a workhorse, his surgeing runs and determind tackling back has to be admired, lots of moans from fans about Song not being more defensive, i would prefer him to carry on doing his thing and put Frinpong or Diarby next to him for cover, Nazri quality,same as Chamakh, Arshaven one game in ten not good, Rosiski works hard up and down good engine, unlike Ashaven losses the ball and gives up, Goaly doing his best, as a No2 but we need a No1

  30. Gibbs could ceratinly do a `Bale` , Kenyan. Infact I believe Clichy & even Cashley started as midfiekders too. Gibbs is still very slight so maybe fullback is the best position for him right now but I`m sure when he fills out he`ll be accomplished enough to play anywhere down the left side.

    On the first goal we conceded yesterday (Carew obviously knew what he was doing) it was interesting to see Squillaci`s reaction. He gave Clichy a good old fashioned b*llocking – which is something we need more of.

  31. Steve buddy…You gonna at least get the spelling of the team right…Its a minimum as a gooner

  32. Evil, we’re the only ones who can ever be in a crisis because we don’t pay huge amounts for players and we play with too many kids. To the press we’ve been punching above our weight for far too long and it’s about time the pundits are proven right.

  33. We need to destroy Fulham 5-0 or better in order to get a confidence boost before going up to the Mancs.

  34. Obviously not as inteligent as you, but i know a good team when i see one and i know we need personel

  35. @Steve Palmer
    Considering Chelsea’s situation as well as Manchester United’s situation — do they need personel as well?

  36. I just noticed that Barcelona are one point behind the league leaders in La Liga. That’s half the amount that we are behind! Now I would like your opinion on that as well, Mr. Palmer. And if Barcelona win the Classico on Monday, Real Madrid will be 2 points behind the league leaders. Do they need personel, despite spending loads in the summer?

    As we are already on the topic. Is there any team in the world that does not need personel?

  37. Where do you get personel from anyway.

  38. Evil, utd top of the league with seven goals, No, but they will still buy
    Chelsea, i have no doubt will buy and buy quality

  39. So why doesn’t United need to buy? A couple of weeks ago they were third, after all?

  40. Defoe misses a penalty. Bloody exciting match.

  41. Good game, thoroughly enjoyable, if you are the thrill seeking, rollercoaster riding kind. By the time our 4th went in I could hear my heart beating in my temples.
    On an aside, I felt bad for Djourou not to be playing, in fact he hasn’t done much wrong since he’s come back. I can understand Arsene having a pecking order of say Verm, Kosc, Squillers & JD at the start of the season, especially since Koscielny played most of pre-season, Squillaci is new to the league and JD was coming back after a season out. But considering recent performances, I would prefer to start Djourou over Koscielny right now. Not that Koscielny’s become bad overnight and all that. It just feels right that good performances should be rewarded just as bad ones are to be punished. Djourou’s not new to this though, couple of seasons ago, he stepped up and did a great job alongside Gallas when Toure was out with Malaria only to be replaced by Kolo when he regained fitness.

  42. David N’gog did a Fabregas and handed the Tiny Totts a favor which Defoe lashed wide. Doesn’t N’gog have right to protect his face? Just asking.
    Poetic justice?

  43. Come on liverpool

  44. Bloody Srktel own goal!

  45. Gainsbourg69 | November 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    5-0 vs Fulham? Lets not run ahead of ourselves. We as supporters need to keep our feet on the ground. We simply need a win.

  46. Watching the tiny totties two weeks in a road is killing me! urrrrrrggghh

  47. bloody hell I can barely hear these commentators speak through all the gargling of Gareth Bales semen their doing.

  48. totts had to score to create a record of all 20 teams scoring…

    since they seemed incapable, pool had to do them a favour at all cost!

  49. there is still time for a pool winner?

  50. the yids purple patch goes on.

  51. Personally I think that it should be JD plus one from now on, this is the premier league someone has to head that bloody ball away!!

    And if there is one thing JD does well it’s heading the ball! I do like both the new boys though. If Vermy can get fit I would be interested to see who he and JD would do together…mmmm

  52. dats spurs as the come back kings then?

    As per usual, there opponents lend them a helping hand… in this case as with us, literally to equalise!

  53. It’s Arsenal at home v Leeds uUited for the 3rd round FA cup

  54. Maybe our Youngguns can play against Leeds. They haven’t had much of a look in the beer cup!

  55. Man United get Liverpool in the 3rd round

  56. Maria, yes JD plus one , particularly away from home. Squillers , Kos & even TV are more second centre halves than traditional stoppers.

    Obviously Johan is more than just a stopper but his physical presence is what`s required so often in our league.

  57. KG, the youngsters seem to mostly be out on loan, which is good for them, me thinks

  58. I find it very strange how few comments are posted after yesterday’s good win.

    Nice summary LA.

  59. @ dups…
    not strange at all! LOL

    its defeats or any form of perceived adversity that seems to draw so many people out of under their rocks… Fewer and fewer may such times continue to be for them!

  60. We were much better against Villa. But, our defence was not good and would have come unstuck against better opposition. Also, our complete refusal to shoot on sight will cost us in tight games. I see Man U and Spurs are eyeing Bastian Schweinsteiger. Who ever buys this player will win the PL because he is powerful, intelligent and a born leader.

  61. So one player will win you the PL. What nonsense.

  62. but wait till we loose. everyone will be all up in on this site.

  63. Steve Palmer:
    “Evil, utd top of the league with seven goals, No, but they will still buy
    Chelsea, i have no doubt will buy and buy quality.”

    Neither Chelsea or MU are going to be buying any personnel this January. Abrahamovic wants Ancelotti to promote from within and MU is broke. Otherwise they would’ve stocked up this summer. Which they didn’t. Carvalho left to Madrid and they got stuck with an aging Terry and Alex. Shows how much you know.

  64. Dups, it was a victory. Naturally the I told you so’ers have no legs to stand on.

  65. Steve, keep dreaming. If Chelsea and MU were going to buy quality they would’ve done so last summer. Besides, Abrahamovic said he wouldn’t sink any more money into Chelsea and wants Ancelotti to promote from within. MU is broke.

  66. Arse fans will never learn

    shottagunna says:
    November 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Spoke not a moment too soon; Pool 1-0.
    ….wheels slowly falling off.

    Yet again a stupid cocky pathetic comment makes you look like a complete mug!

    What is it with Arsenal fans always opening their mouth and talking sh*t before the actual game or season is finished??? Always assuming you know the outcome before it happens has always mugged you lot off yet you never seem to learn your lesson.

    Maybe your all used to being mugged off season after season so have no quarms about mugging your on selves off aswell. lol

  67. West Ham should push the boat out and buy Schweinsteiger winning the league would stop them from being relegated

  68. Thanks LA.

    The ‘little friendlies’ are amazing players!
    Wasn’t there a slight deflection on Nasri’s shot too? Two readings off on the snick-o-meter? A deflected shot/goal from the edge of the area. Heh.

    Nice reminder from Zama of Djourou’s previous (Why his injury was such a blow last season). That’s not a complaint about the ridiculously good (& fast) Kos. It’s reasonable to assume Djourou might be working his way back from a long time out. He said he was only ‘50%’ when he first started playing again.

    Standing ovation for Lansbury at Carrow Road.

  69. Our defence needs reinforcements in January, almost destroyed a great attacking performance again

  70. Enjoyed the little mozart yesterday and was very buoyed to see him and jack share some special moments together. A real testiment to ‘mini’ mozarts (prob wont catch on…) talent that he percieves the game so similarly to – imo – our most beautiful midfielder. The spatial awareness of the pair is excellent and I hope to see a nice little run of game with them in the coming weeks.

    As expressed by the author also (was that yogi?), it was a joy to watch AA give a seasons best effort. I hope for a consistant run like this from him but as a critic who strives not to be fickle I may also argue that this could be percieved as an advert to use him more sparingly as after a small rest he performs with far more inspired will power. My memory fails me but the same could be noticed in a game earlier in the month or so… anyway he deserves full marks and a nicely reserved english pat on the back for his work up in the unfavoured winter chills.

    Interesting also to see some of the form tip up and down, clichy and AA were on fire down the left while sagna and nasri by their own standards had less influence down the right… nice to see the responsibility being shared!

    Little mention of pires I see? well arsene did ask him to have a quiet game… 😉

    I guess JET didn’t go on loan in the end? I think the deadline was a few days ago? Hopefully he inspires to warm my vocal chords at the emirates come tuesday.


  71. FYI:

    “We’ve now got 15 players on loan, that’s an entire team and bench.


    Hoyte, Bartley, Cruise, Traore

    Ramsey, Coqelin, Lansbury

    Watt, Afobe, Botelho

    Plus Evina, Galindo, Randall and Barazite.

    And we’re still top of the Reserve League with 2 games in hand. Scary.”

  72. Why do people keep chatting crap about the defense? Its like we believe that Arsenal must score 5 while other teams never get a goal.

    This Aston Villa side dominted United for the most part, didnt they?

    I am so happy that we didnt get beat on one of those long balls, thats what did us in in the last two matches along with a silly handball.

  73. Which begs the question: Is a 2-0 win better than a 4-2 win? I would say yes, for the obvious reason that clean sheets lay a strong foundation to go on a good unbeaten run in the league as well as trophies in knock-out competitions.

  74. Very readable report Yogi, thank you very much for all your work.
    And yes very few posters on a winning weekend, must be a reverse universe.

  75. Paul
    The reason people keep going on about the defence is we lost our previous two games down to defensive mistakes.We nearly through it away again on saturday till Jacks late goal.7 goals conceded in a week.When our game doesnt work like it did v the Spuds and Braga we will be punished.We need a strong defence and TV cant get fit quick enough

  76. Lovely, Limpar, just lovely.

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