Dec 26

Match Report: Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal

A pivotal game in Arsenal’s season was taking place in a chilly Villa Park earlier this evening.

And what a game it was. Mikael Silvestre and Emmanuel both returned to the starting XI after a short spell out of the line-up.

Aston Villa boasted the likes of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonhlahor, both of whom caused plenty of trouble for the Gunners’ defence a month ago in the 2-0 win at the Emirates.

Aston Villa Starting XI

Friedel
Reo-Coker – Davies – Knight – L Young
Milner – Sidwell – Petrov – Barry – A Young
Agbonlahor

Arsenal Starting XI

Almunia
Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Silvestre
Eboue – Denilson – Song – Nasri
Diaby
van Persie

First Half

The game started at a high tempo, with Arsenal knowing that a win would be enough to take The Gunners above Aston Villa and up to 4th in the Premiership table, but Villa hoping to go six points clear of their Premier League rivals.

Steve Sidwell almost opened the scoring for Aston Villa in the 6th minute from a corner, beating Alex Song to a header, but his shot ricocheted off both the crossbar and the post and away to safety.

Villa were causing problems for Arsene Wenger’s side early in the match, forcing a number of corners from the Arsenal defenders, who looked uncomfortable under pressure.

Zat Knight denied Arsenal forward Robin van Persie a clear shot on goal in the 15th minute after the Dutch striker found space for the first time in the match, but it was the home side that were in the ascendancy and they continued to harry the visitors.

Another great chance for Villa was thwarted in the 20th minute, with Manuel Almunia diving to his right well to parry away Gabriel Agbonlahor’s fierce shot from the corner of the penalty area, with William Gallas diving to block Steve Sidwell’s follow-up shot which was heading for goal.

Aston Villa had chance after chance to score the opener, but Arsenal keeper Almunia made another good save to stop Ashley Young’s shot rebounding off the post and into goal, and minutes later Curtis Davies found space in the penalty-area to turn and shoot, but yet again Villa were denied by the woodwork.

Despite all the pressure from the home-side, Arsenal took the lead in the 40th minute, with only their second real chance of the match.

Denilson was the goalscorer, latching on to the ball after some loose defending, charging into the Villa area and smashing the ball through Brad Friedel’s legs from the edge of the six-yard box to give Arsenal the lead, completely against the run-of-play.

Goal: Denilson (40) – Aston Villa 0-1 Arsenal

The game went into half-time 1-0 to Arsenal, while Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill will be rueing the many missed chances in the first-half.

Second Half

Arsenal started the second-half with far more intent and doubled their lead within minutes of the restart, with Abou Diaby shooting into the top-corner of Friedel’s net to make it 2-0 – a stunning goal from a player who has been under pressure by many sections of the fans.

Goal: Abou Diaby (49) – Aston Villa 0-2 Arsenal

The home-side, after recovering from the two goals either side of half-time, started to come back into the match and they were soon back in contention.

Aston Villa were awarded a penalty just after the hour-mark after William Gallas tripped Gabriel Agbonlahor on the edge of the penalty-area, much to the chagrin of Arsene Wenger, who had a verbal with Villa boss O’Neill over the challenge.

The spot-kick was converted by the re-instated Villa captain Gareth Barry, to halve Arsenal’s lead.

Goal: Gareth Barry (65 pen) – Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

Aston Villa were looking for the equaliser so, to try and secure the win, Arsene Wenger replaced Samir Nasri with Gael Clichy in the 82nd minute as Arsenal tried to sure-up their defence for the closing minutes of the match.

But Villa were defiant to the end, and blew away Arsenal’s advantage in injury-time.

The equaliser came in the second minute of injury-time, from defender Zat Knight, who collected the loose ball in the penalty-area to score just his second goal for Villa and his first for 15 months to give Villa a valuable draw.

Goal: Zat Knight (90+1) – Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal

What everyone can be sure of is that Arsene Wenger needs to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window. Despite today’s team being a ‘second string’ of sort, there still seems to be negativity in the camp. Come on Arsene, bring out your chequebook.

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13 Responses to “Match Report: Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal”

  1. Mraces says:

    sagna, denilson, diaby in the 2nd half were excellent, song, silvestre terrible, roll on the window opening,

    ReplyReply
  2. stu says:

    What a complete and utter disgrace. The team selection was horrible. We were abysmal in the first half and were lucky not to be 4-1 down at HT.

    Why Clichy or Vela didnt start is beyond me. Even Bendtner would have been better with RvP, instead of Van being alone up front. Serious changes need to be made. Whether they be at management of simply player level.

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  3. Bob says:

    Sopme positives where the performaneces of Diaby,Eboue,Denilson and especially Sagna.

    We played bad but if we had held on for a bit longer we’d have won the way the media want us to do to prove we can challenge.

    I’ve also read a lot of crap about how Villa outplayed us. They employed hoofball tactics, random crosses and hoping Agbonlahor and Young would outrun our players.

    Nothing they did in the whole game was comparable to some of the passing and movement we had in the second half.

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  4. AndyMcPhail says:

    We were stunning for half of the second half. Should never have thrown it away, Diaby was imperious today

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  5. Gooner Chris says:

    Agree with Andy.

    I’m still trying to get over Sagna’s acrobatics in the first half!! ;)

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  6. Neil says:

    Time for Wenger to go now. What a disgrace.

    ReplyReply
  7. fiberglass says:

    If Arsene goes who is going to replace him? Arsenal FC as a whole is in disarray, from the board to the pitch!

    I think the people who are asking for Arsene head better think again, if he leaves we will be looking at fighting relegation than 4th place!

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  8. Steako says:

    Bob, what game was you watching? Arsenal had a good spell for 20 mins in the second half, apart from that they were second best. Random crosses, balls for your pacy players to run on to, surely that’s football aye Bob?

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  9. robbo says:

    Wenger has built some wonderful sides over the past decade but I think the pressure is starting to tell. He is really showing little ‘class’ at the moment. His constant complaints about the officials being against Arsenal are verging on paranoia. The fourth CL league place clearly is up for grabs now and whether it falls to Arsenal, Villa or Everton is likely to depend on injuries and the quality of January signings.

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  10. Gunner Jillu says:

    I thought getting a centre mid was the most important thing for us, it now looks like a centre half is higher priority. What was Gallas doing, Toure was there as cover, no need to do what he did. Wish this crap season would end, nothing really to look fwd to. We played well for about 25 mins in second half. They battered us in the first half and Villa kinda deserved something out of the game. January going to be a long month, who can we actualy sign that will make a difference

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  11. Phan says:

    wth is some fans thinking? We were w/o fabregas, adebayor, clichy, rosicky, eduardo, djorou, Walcott and even song went off at half time. We drew with a stong team away and yet the fans are so neg.

    wat i guess is they are mostly fans who came to be fans during arsene’s era and was spoilt by his success. but i guess they are not really fans….

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  12. GOONER4EVER says:

    Very well said Phan!!!I think that Neil is a spud supporter not Arsenal’s
    If Wenger goes who would you prefer??Do you realise what the Great Maestro has done to our beloved Club?Do you know that he is wanted allover the World?and we started playing attracting and pleasant football on his arrival?Do you know how may great stars he developed,a classic example Thierry and Cesc?

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  13. fiberglass says:

    PHAN AND GOONER4EVER well said.

    Wenger is not totally innocent and he needs to think and think fast!
    Buying players these days is more than just getting out the checkbook you need to be able to maintain them and I really don’t think Arsenal have the money!

    But what is going on with our injuries?????? Is it something in the water?

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