Aston Villa Preview: A Time For Heroes Not Villains

The trip to Villa Park provides an opportunity to consign an awful November to the history books, signing off with a win that would temporarily take Arsenal to the top of the Premier League. The grounds for optimism have diminished in the last two performances – one and a half to be more accurate.

The side which performed so poorly in Braga contained seven changes from that which imploded against Tottenham. The changes made were likely to be reversed but Wenger’s hand has been forced by the absence of his captain, out for a couple of weeks at least.

Wenger was adamant that he has no intention of relieving Fabregas of the captaincy yet I fail to see why this was even an issue. Whilst some have seriously countenanced such action being taken, believing that the Spaniard is still in sulking over his failed move to Barcelona, those critics overlook one important character trait; Fabregas is a winner and his demeanour suggests to me that he is unhappy with his own form, frustrated by injury – perhaps returning to action too soon?

With Chelsea visiting Newcastle and United hosting Blackburn, Arsenal has the toughest fixture. Psychologically it would be a massive boost for the players to win and win well today. It would also increase the pressure on two opponents who are spluttering in form. Chelsea could go onto the pitch at St James’ Park in third place, barely four weeks after the procession to the crown was heralded in the media. Such a turnaround in fortunes would be negative for them.

Pre-match, Robert Pires facing Arsenal is hogging the headlines although he is likely to be a substitute for the hosts. Personally, I wish him well at his new club aside from any fixture involving Arsenal when I hope that he and his teammates suffer from a collective failure to find any form and lose heavily. Perhaps that is overly optimistic but surely optimism is the heart and soul of being a football supporter?

With Fabregas out, Denilson is likely to form the central midfield partnership. Playmaking will probably fall on the shoulders of Samir Nasri although many would insert Jack Wilshere, I would omit him on recent form where tiredness seems to have been issue. With that in mind, it would be an attacking triumverate of Arshavin, Chamakh and Walcott supported by the previous trio.

The line-up I would select is:

Fabianski; Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy; Denilson, Nasri, Song; Walcott, Chamakh, Arshavin

The suspicion is that Koscielny will return to the centre though. I was surprised by his return last weekend in place of Djourou as the Swiss had done nothing wrong in the previous two games. It was a clear indicator that, at the moment, the French duo are his first choice. When Vermaelen returns, it will be interesting to see which of that pair is considered first choice with the older of the two likely to win that battle.

On the subject of long term injuries, it was good to see Aaron Ramsey return for the reserves. He has since joined Nottingham Forest on loan until 3rd January 2011, conveniently avoiding being cup-tied domestically although the East Midlands club’s diminished status means that he will be free for the Europa League campaign…

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow when Limpar will be filling in with the report.

275 thoughts on “Aston Villa Preview: A Time For Heroes Not Villains

  1. duke Goonem says:

    can we wear our yellow kit at the Emirates!!!!

  2. Evil says:

    @Jason
    Are you joking? Denilson is as fast/slow as our other central midfielders. He is certainly as fast as Song, Diaby, Cesc, Wilsh or Rosicky. Nasri might be faster, though.

  3. duke Goonem says:

    fat sam will be enjoying a bottle of red with fergie after their encounter.

  4. deano says:

    I dunno Evil, Diaby’s pretty rapid.

    Denilson has got a fast brain thats for sure. He’s a great little player.

  5. Limestonegunner says:

    I thought Wenger’s lineup was just right. I might have preferred Djourou and there is a case for playing Walcott or at least bringing him on at 60′ at 2-1 or 75′ at 3-2. This is not Denilson’s sort of game, so I was glad Wilshere got the start.

    We got all three points unlike Bolton, ManU, and Chelsea at Villa Park, so we can justly be proud of this victory. The team passed a big test playing great attacking football without Cesc. Alas, these set piece situations into the box are really threatening us. I don’t know why we are so vulnerable but it does make it easier for teams that have no business giving us a scare are always potentially in the game. That and our own propensity for extinguishing our own attacks when we are at 2-0 or 3-1–we could and should crushed Villa with 5 or 6 goals.

    But, we keep the game interesting! Great job and good defensive substitutions to control the last 10 minutes. We stifled them but still had the creativity to grab a great goal for Wilshere–fantastic!

    Tough call for MOTM-Arshavin or Chamakh. Arshavin clearly enjoyed playing more centrally in the space where Fabregas often is for the final third. I think we have potentially some real solutions with this lineup plus a fit RvP for ManU away. Hopefully a good game against Fulham with RvP playing will set us up for the game at Old Trafford and Cesc won’t be rushed back but we still get a win away or at least a draw.

    Onwards and upwards, Gunners!

  6. poodle says:

    If Chamakh continiues like this he will be a 20 goals a season striker.

  7. deano says:

    Cackburn are an absolute disgrace.

    Sam Alairdyce is serving the purple nosed one with suitable indignity.

    I wonder what the reward is for his profound loyalty?

  8. Wavey says:

    Home game on Tuesday night is a great opportunity for a run out for Walcott, RVP and Bendtner. Hopefully another run out for our other Polish goalkeeper as well. Could be a very experienced midfield for the game against Wigan as we have most of our up and coming players out on loan now.We could crush Wigan on Tuesday night and be back to winning ways at home in time for the visit of a fairly poor Fulham side.
    Wigan are getting their butts kicked by West Ham, 2 – 0.

  9. Team Spirit says:

    oh well,,, YW is likely at villa park,.. so the italics stays a while i guess

  10. Max Gunner says:

    Fat Sam loves to bend over for old rednose… “ooh give it grandpa…give it ooh”…..

  11. Gunner4Ever says:

    Fat Sam deserves two bottles of the finest wine
    ……………Up his ass of course.

  12. Jason says:

    Today proved how much better a team we are when Denilson DOESNT play.The midfielders who played today can all play a killer forward ball unlike sideways

    As i was saying about United………………………………..

  13. duke Goonem says:

    blackburn should be wearing fukin gimp getups.

  14. deano says:

    Christ Almighty Man U are on for double figures…

  15. Team Spirit says:

    @ Jason Are u for real? or just looking for a response?

    I don’t get it? i thot Dennilson came on and actually almost scored?

  16. Jason says:

    TS
    Denilson is not worth his place in the team ahead of Jack and Rosicky thats what i am saying

  17. Team Spirit says:

    happy for west ham
    happy for sunderland
    and don’t fret my friends, Blackburn will pay for today when they get relegated on goals difference!

  18. deano says:

    I wouldn’t bother Team Spirit. The point was made earlier. People who think Denilson is a bad player simply don’t understand football.

  19. Wavey says:

    Denilson is clearly a player who generates mixed emotions and very passionate ones at that. I would liked to have seen Nasri in the middle with Wilshere and Song today with Rosicky on the right, but the set up worked today because Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin and Wilshere like to switch positions on the field making it a nightmare for teams to defend against them. I don’t believe Denilson has that ability and I feel that the midfield 5 we used today are likely to give us loads more scoring opportunities (and goals) than the likes of Densilson and Diaby.

  20. Limestonegunner says:

    Wenger picked the right midfield. This wasn’t the sort of game for Denilson, I think. Song played a more cautious game and while occasionally contributing to the attack he stayed in a defensive position allowing Rosicky, Arshavin, Nasri and occasionally Wilshere to move forward. That worked very well. I think Denilson would be good v. Partisan and in the CC v. Wigan- he will be able to handle defensive duties and keep possession. Villa are more physical so Song was the right choice. Denilson for Wilshere would have undermined our creativity, which we needed since Fabregas was out.

  21. poodle says:

    @Jason, begone troll! go troll somwhere else…..we all know you aint for real and you just do this to try to be cool. well hope you hve beter things to do on a saturday evning than to troll about denilson…

  22. Wavey says:

    Just amazed that some of those who comment on here verbally abuse or insult those who don’t agree with their opinion of players, “simply don’t understand football” that’s harsh.

  23. Team Spirit says:

    one of the highest scoring days….

    seems abt 33 goals have been scored so far in the the league today!

  24. Team Spirit says:

    @ Jason, his overall contributions to the team says otherwise… He cant defend that assertion am sure

    so u have to trust those that know better on these matters

  25. Evil says:

    @Wavey
    I guess it must be related to the fact that most people here usually write long and eloquent texts explaining the qualities of our players, just for someone to come around and call the same player an “useless git”. If you can not explain why you think that a player is up to the standard, besides from repeating things that have been said (and rebuked) dozens of times, I do nit think that it is harsh to doubts someone’s understanding of football and the system employed by our beloved club.

  26. Wavey says:

    I agree that just continually stating a player is crap is not a constructive argument, but i can also see why Denilson is regarded as less influential or creative than many of our other midfielders.

  27. poodle says:

    Yeh Wavey, you may see that, but that does not turn you into some mindless, unintelligend idiot that has to spew out all kinds of shit all the time does it? So if you manage to write well articulated small messages on a blog , why cant the rest of them?
    Its not that hard is it???

  28. Wavey says:

    Man U now got a better goal difference than us.

  29. poodle says:

    And i cannot belive Blackburn just lied down and died! that is shocking! is it possible to play any worse than they did today?? Did they bet on a United win or something?

  30. Gainsbourg69 says:

    Some people just can’t see what Denilson brings to the team. They have it in their heads that he’s crap and they don’t see anything beyond that.

  31. Team Spirit says:

    This answers my thots then…

    From InfostradaLive on Twitter: “There have been 36 goals scored in the PL today, equal-fourth most ever on a single day in the division and the most since a 20 team league.”

  32. Wavey says:

    Poodle, totally agree. This is after all a forum, a place for discussion by supporters of the same team (hopefully). We all have differing views of the team we support, but we are all surely pushing in the same direction.

    On another subject, I think I will give up playing Fantasy League next season, not just because I’m crap (I am because I stick wih players like Drogba and Jagielka), but also because it changes your outlook on the results of other teams. I was a bit hacked off that Man U conceded a goal late on because I have Vidic in my team so would have picked up 3 points for a clean sheet. What’s wrong with me? I want to see Man U get their arses kicked, I shouldn’t care about a clean sheet for 3 points for Vidic.
    Does Fantasy football distract us from what we all really want, the teams around us to lose and keep losing? The only Fantasy team we should have is a team full of Arsenal players.

  33. Evil says:

    @Wavey
    I agree. I guess it can get even worse if you are an avid gambler. I believe it can be quite hard to bring loyalty to your club in line with the wish to make money by predicting results of other teams accurately.

  34. Firstlady says:

    We started the game like we were out there to prove a point,they were lucky to be only 2-0 at the break.Nervy end to the game but we kept cool and scored the 4th crucial goal.today arshavin was the player we bought,chamakh was great and was happy to see him take more shots than his usual laying it off for others even when he is better placed to score.1st goal for them was definitely carew interfering with play.i see sam is still in fergi’s pocket,rovers didnt try to score even when they had lots of space,for a team that hoofs it they sure did try to walk the ball to the net.still that’s not going to ruin my evening and our win.

  35. Antony says:

    A great game today. Arshavin was just awesome and I hope this is signs of things to come! Song was a class act stealing the ball from everyone. Nasri looked dangerous and showed great feet. A pity he didn’t score off that brilliant run in the first half! Everyone else played well!

    I posted about 2 problems that I thought this team was facing a few days back. They were basically the physical development of our players(considering how buff Nani and Ronaldo became after a few years at Man Utd.) and the way our crossing and attacking crosses should become better.

    So I just wanted to post about another 2. The first is how we tend to look shaky sometimes against speedy wing attacks, like how we were when Villa made those subs and started running at us with pace and against Bale last week. We simply have to correct this problem because Man Utd will be using this tactic the whole game against us. And looking at their performance it looks like they are gathering steam(although Berbatov’s performance was clearly a one-off).

    Another weird thing I felt about our team is that although we are a team that emphasizes style and skill we lack a tricky dribbler who can really run at the defense. Nasri, Walcott and Rosicky try, with varying degrees of success but the only guy who can really do it well is Arshavin. And what a difference he made today when he was performing like his old self. I thought that he was awesome and was a real source of danger. He dribbled through nearly the entire Villa team and nearly scored!!!

  36. Firstlady says:

    Antony,its not like blackburn fought back and seein that we are playing them away am confident we will get a gud result.on to our next home games am holding my breathe.

  37. goonerwife says:

    Arsenal fans were called out for moaning for no good reason on talksport.

  38. Darius says:

    Considering the grief Wenger and the team have got all week, the best moment of the match for me was when he took off Nasri, Arshavin and Rosicky – to bring on Gibbs, Denilson and Djourou.

    A defensive midfield wall of Gibbs, Denilson, Song and Djourou in front of a defence of Clichy, Squallaci, Koscielny and Sagna was a pretty clear message that we were leaving with the 3 points come what may.

    There’s nothing we could do about the first goal – you can’t legislate for an opposing player impeding your goal keeper and the match officials don’t call it for the foul it is. Even without Cesc, the team did a very professional job.

    I also recall Wenger screaming at Nasri for cheaply giving the ball away in front of the Villa box with an unnecessary flick while he could have kept possession if there wasn’t any opening. The lessons are being learnt.

    More importantly, we should not continue with the arrogance of thinking Villa weren’t deserving of a goal. They are a good team that have traditionally played well against us in recent years. We have no divine right to win any game and we had to work hard and earn the right to play our game, before doing the right thing and nailing the door shut with the substitutions.

    And btw – it was a thoroughly enjoyable game with some exquisite Arsenal play.

  39. dupsffokcuf says:

    Apart from their first goal being s bad decision I thought the ref was quite fair for a change.

  40. FinnGun says:

    goonerwife, but we do have a lot of moaners, don’t we?

  41. Evil says:

    But the real question: what does this game tell us about the mental strength of the team?

  42. goonerwife says:

    FinnGun. yes we do. Cant stand it.

  43. California Gooner says:

    Antony, that would be good point regarding tricky wingers if there was an ounce of truth in it. If you will remember, the Totts pulled Aaron Lennon off at half-time and moved Bale over behind the striker at half-time. Either of them was getting ANY joy attacking our full-backs in the first half. Other than that, points taken.

  44. Jimmy Boy says:

    Villa had two shots on target all game and scored with both of them that is a big worry as is us conceding 7 goals in a week.We have got to tighten up at the back.We are conceding more than a goal a game in the league just like last season

    Motm by a mile :Arshavin the guy is a match winner.Nasri and Chamakh ran their hearts out

  45. poodle says:

    well it will be interesting to see if Arsh will keep this up. He gets alot more responsibilty when Cesc is out, maybe he thrives on it. Cos he was very good today little Arsh.

  46. Team Spirit says:

    I really laughed at this…

    arshavin.eu: What would have happened to the team if you had lost today?
    AA: What would have happened? We would have been sitting on the bus to London looking at each other like frightened bunnies:)

  47. Antony says:

    @ California Gooner

    Lennon was shite that game but I agree with Bale. Hope we can keep Nani and Valencia at bay. COYG!

  48. dupsffokcuf says:

    Normal cop out from MoTD. No mention by the panel about Carew being offside for their 1st goal.

  49. 1 loose cannon says:

    Chamakh was outstanding today. did all the dirty work upfront on his own, held the ball well, created chances and scored. did all the things you would exepct from a big centre forward. Bendtner has a big job on his hands to dislodge Chamakh. Arshavin is getting closer to his best. and Nasri was brilliant he made Fabregas’s absence unoticeable. Crisis? What crisis?

  50. OneOfUs says:

    Watching MOTD, it seems every team has a different version of out Nasri song. Were we first?

    And that 2nd Bolton goal was just beautiful. Their fans must feel like their pies have been spiked or something.

  51. dupsffokcuf says:

    Bolton have been playing some good football. It is a shame their fans are not turning up at home games.

  52. 1 loose cannon says:

    I just love Blackpool, they play attacking football without any fear. considering their squad cost 2.5 millions is just amazing. I hope they stay up instead of Stoke or or any team managed by fat Sam.

  53. Max Gunner says:

    Not only did Fat Sam bend over and let fergie dog him…..he let fergie creampied all inside….

  54. Soccer Mom says:

    Arsenal’s defending is simply awful, no fighting spirit in the team..

    Nothing much Cesc Fabregas can do, hopefully when he comes back, he will give the team a lift.

    Soccer WAGs

  55. Firstlady says:

    What lift?didnt we win the game?

  56. Gadget says:

    Honestly, how does conceding a goal automatically equal shite defending? This is the same Villa that put 2 past the gloriously konstructed impenetrable steel line of the Red Devils of Manchester United.

    The fact is yeah the goal were again preventable, but thee other unassailable fact is that when it comes to a measure of defensive strength, looking solely at the goals conceded column is incorrect; we should be paying more attention to the shots allowed, shots on target, and possession stats. Those stats say Villa had 6 shot, 4 on target from 40.4% possession. That’s a pretty good performance in my op.

    As for the goals, the first one should have been called for offside. Fab O would have saved that if one of the two were true: Carew not being in his way or he was wearing pink. Apart from that, the outfield players could have perhaps done a little better. Clichy did the right thing in peeling off Clarke to cover Ashley Young (despite what the former striker, now professional idiot Alan Smith might say). Among the many alternate things which could have happened alternatively is that one of the CB told Clichy to stay on Clarke while he went to cover Young, or we could have just put out a stronger clearance first time round.

    As for the second, it was a well executed corner. Difficult to defend against as the ball’s pinged back into a danger area, and Clarke finished it well.

    The team defended well overall, and in the second half Aston Villa stepped up their attack. If they had won or drawn, it would have been because they fought back, not because we gifted them goals. As it is, our team didn’t lose their attack edge.

    Also, I read a comment about us showboating at 3-1. If this is in relations to us passing the ball around for a long stretch of the game, I thoroughly disagree. That’s our strength: passing the ball around. In my op, that’s akin to Henry running down to the corner flag. Passing the ball around is how we control the game, and to be honest, when we’re winning, I’d like to see more of it. Patient controlled and measured keep ball, no better defence that that

  57. Ole Gunner says:

    I thought we defended both goals poorly. Goal 2, it all started with Wilshere switching off and allowing an easy cross which Kos cleared for the corner. Then when the corner came in Kos didn’t time his jump well, was beaten in the air and we conceded.

    Goal 1 was due to a bad clearance by Squillaci. Squillaci and Sagna struggled to clear the ball properly all game and kept putting the ball in dangerous areas from their clearances

  58. Robbie says:

    Gadget
    Its you who is the idiot.The first goal Clichy’s job was to close down the man on the ball not think he may pass the ball to Young.The second goal as is usual for us defending a set piece the marking was appalling.Two bad goals conceded down to our errors

  59. goonerwife says:

    moan, moan, moan. Guess what? we won

  60. duke Goonem says:

    always good to give them brummie bastads a good old chamakhing.

  61. duke Goonem says:

    fukin el Chelsea’s defence is worse then ours.

  62. Poliziano says:

    Looks like another routine victory for Chelsea.

  63. duke Goonem says:

    the first real Chelsea injury crisis and look at them.

  64. LimparAssist says:

    New post up… apologies for the delay… clerical f*ck up.

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