FA Cup: Villa Preview – Chicken Little Or Strong As An Ox?

The FA Cup sparked into life yesterday with Newcastle United, Hull City and Manchester United all falling in shock results. Arsenal will seek to avoid joining that trio by beating Aston Villa at The Emirates this afternoon. Some of the build-up has been quite comical; Alex McLeish has short-term memory loss, preferring to remember Wembley with a different club from almost a year ago than the altogether more relevant Villa Park in December as his battlecry.

For Arsenal, this is a chance to consign a horrible January to the dustbin with a win. No Premier League points in January, the bright spot was the victory over Leeds with the goalscoring return of Thierry Henry. The euphoria of that moment lasted just one week but key games approach in the next seven days; very winnable games. Must-win games to breakout of a rut.

New faces might help. Reports this morning suggest that a bid for Lukasz Podolski was rejected; the source is not the most reliable yet hints that the quietness is not a sign of Arsène or anyone else doing nothing, simply doing business the Arsenal way. Quietly and being rejected. Burak Yilmaz would ‘accept a transfer to Arsenal‘ so that won’t happen but there is a new signing which has the potential for causing problems, not least of which will be a run of letters for shirt printing. What’s his new nickname going to be? The Ox is taken, Laub Rat sounds too experimental so The Laub will have to do…

For years, Arsène sought to actively play down the strengths of youngsters, aware of the damage that the weight of expectation might do to a career. This time in a volte face, he is building a player up, knowing that the media pander to unreasonable expectations. I understand that this is all part of a PR war, the media ask the questions, he provides the answers but knowing how fickle Arsenal supporters can be, it is a risky business. The media lap it up such is the paucity of genuine talent for the national team. It is lapped up in the stands because of the paucity of anything in recent weeks.

His performances this season have underlined the potential but they have all been at home. Arsenal’s travails have been on their travels; can Oxlade-Chamberlain provide the spark away from The Emirates? Perhaps but it seems more likely than Andrey Arshavin will be used in those games. This morning’s observations on the Russian from Amy Lawrence pinpoint his problems exactly, ones that the manager is surely aware of but has no inclination to solve simply because they do not fit tactically. And also overlook his performances which have delighted, have come from the left wing.

That was when he was in the side on a regular basis and for someone who was pivotal in his national team, hailed as a world superstar before signing for the club, there is an ignominy in being deemed no more than a regular substitute. Prior to this season, he has been involved in a goal every other game on average – either scoring or assisting – but this time it is one every four games. For all of his manager’s failings in not getting the best out of Arshavin, the player too is culpable for producing his form on a consistent enough basis. There in the problem; lack of playing time will not help his cause and it is a cause worth fighting for. Even out of sorts, he is capable of the mercurial moment that changes a game something which has not been evident this season.

Team news is better with Bacary Sagna a possible returnee from the bench, surely too short of match fitness to start? That means Johan Djourou is likely to keep his starting place although Yennaris’ perfomance in the second half suggested he might do well as a specialist right back. Villa have pace on the flanks and in attack which may sway the manager’s choice given the damage done by United last weekend. Whilst Wenger makes no secret of his targets for the season, a strong line-up today is surely required. The FA Cup, like last season’s Carling Cup, offers the chance of mentally enhancing silverware, especially with the number of big clubs exiting the tournament thus far.

My line-up for this afternoon, fitness permitting, would be:

Szczesny; Yennaris, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Ramsey, Song, Arteta; Walcott, van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Will last weekend have influenced Arsène’s thinking on substitutes? I doubt it, I hope not. The crowd should not deflect the manager from his course. By all means learn from the mistake tactically but not for the sake of keeping the peace. Were that the case, the minor view pushed by Justin Hoyte in the press this morning will be consumed in the headline fog of Winterburn and Merson.

As part of your big match build-up, pop over to Arsenal On This Day for a fine win from 1972. Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

550 thoughts on “FA Cup: Villa Preview – Chicken Little Or Strong As An Ox?

  1. korihikage says:

    but then again, all joe cole has got to do is tell hazard about john terry, if hazard’s got a wife or girlfriend,

    he’s gonna run far far away.fr chelsea

  2. Ateeb says:

    I don’t think he will before the summer, read some comments by some Lille official. Come to Arsenal? I don’t think we can accommodate him, unless he plays on the wings, which would mean Arshavin or Rosicky being sold off this summers. Could happen, but I think Wilshere and Ramsey will be our long term central midfielders. He will bring something different to both Theo, Gervinhio and the Ox. More of a play maker on the wings, just as Nasri was being played, or Hleb before him.

  3. Jonny says:

    We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have beaten Villa 3-2 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten Villa, Villa, Villa. Birthplace of Balti. We have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Jibba-Jabba, Acryllic Twat Monkey, Narrow Spectrum, Suga and Shit, Arse NO Brain, SV, Tit McMichaels, Jimmy the Squirrel, Maggie Milk Snatcher.

    “Maggie Snatchface can you hear me? Maggie War Criminal with your eyes full of hate, I have a message for you – Meryl Streep would have been preferable to you. I have a message for you: We have knocked Villa out of the football FA Cup. Maggie Belgrano Pinochet , as they say in your language in the bars around the Q Club in Birmingham : Your Villa took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!”

    It’s still not fucking over. Best 45 mins of the year.


  4. korihikage says:


    he is a winger who can come into the centre. belgium’s biggest problem was that they had no playmaker in the middle, so hazard basically has to do everything. but i felt that his best position is on the flank, coming into the middle or getting behind the defence..

  5. Jonny says:

    Anything I say from now on can be discounted. I’m playing loud dance music and dancing. And I don’t care. Life’s too sad not to be happy when it serves you a sensational serving of joy.
    Its still not over! Etc.Etc.Etc.

  6. Gainsbourg69 says:

    McLeish should be quiet because Dunne got even for Cuellar not two minutes later with his own elbow to Van Perise’s bean.

  7. Jonny says:

    The ref was largely excellent. got a lot of stuff right. HOWEVER the lack of yellow (let alone red) was cowardice or gross incompetence. Glad we won without it.

    Done and Dunne.

  8. Evil says:

    Don’t be. Wednesday in the league you can be sure that we will be denied one. And we won’t get any for the next month, too, just to make up for today!

  9. Jonny says:

    Imagine what bad eyes you have to have to enjoy the development of le Coq.

    I’d rather watch a tree grow from seed than buy a fully grown weed just because it already has it’s prickles.

  10. Billy’s Boots says:

    Just watched the highlights of the Liverpool v Man Utd match yesterday. Was struck by the similarities of the first goal we conceded today and the first goal United conceded yesterday. It is some consolation (albeit small) that we are not the only team to concede in this way.

  11. goonerkam says:

    even though I like Goetz too ,I would be over the moon with Eden. Although I still would like reinforcments at fullbacks.
    @DEXTER, turning point is right. SPOT ON.

    SO HAPPY with some of the injured coming back. Special. BACARDI BACK @ FULLBACK. HAHA.
    what a game between Nedal and the Joker.
    Very impressed.
    UP. THE. GUNS. !!!!!!!!!!

  12. Spy says:

    Gordon Strachan wot a cunt’
    Has he a brain of his own?

  13. Spy says:

    Yeah get a win and it’s tumbleweed time

  14. dukegoonem says:

    seriously why do our players( theo) always get grief from the coms. that liverpool v utd game not one bloody critique of any player even the hapless downing who is yet to fukin score. unbelievable.

  15. goonerkam says:

    ALEX mactwatlish is a jackass of the highest order. Ffs, VILLA should have played with nine after the 75th min. Hypocrite asshole.

  16. Spy says:

    Strachan takes it on himself to tell the public what we(Arsenal fans) think of Theo,
    A complete Wanker

  17. JonJon says:

    was interesting watching oxo and theo in the same team again..

    how scary do we look when its ultimate pace on the flanks…we did in the second half v utd as well…

    it was also helping rambo and rosicky..i dont think these two are really that strong in tight spaces like diaby and cesc were…rambo especially is a more of a driver with the ball…he and rosicky were making loads of surging runs in the middle..totally fucking villa up…
    we had something like 85% possession at one bit and it wasnt foreplay tippy tap, we were just flogging em with speed and dunne and hutton didnt know what day it was.. lol

    the gaps were there for them to run into cos our wide men are turning on the burners and spreading the play..

    thought le coq was huge as well…

  18. Billy’s Boots says:

    I enjoyed AW’s clever solution to the problem of how do you bring off AOC without getting booed. Easy, just bring on TH12!

  19. JonJon says:

    if that was an elbow by robin then hes a fucking ninja..
    i wouldnt put it passed him, bergkamp wasnt exactly a saint, but if it was intention hes got jedi powers…
    on the slow mo it dont look like hes done all that much wrong really..

    dunne should have gone though..
    the slow mo’s make it look worse…he cleaned out rosicky and he wasnt exactley pillow fighting when he took rambo out either…

    how the fuck he stayed on the pitch i dont know..

    both pen decisions were nailed on as well…best team won…

    if robins elbow is the best mcgliesh has got then hes just fucking gutted and hes clutching at straws… cos for 15 minutes we were unplayable

    going after em like streaks of lightening..hutton looked fucking dizzy…

  20. Passenal says:

    “..i didn’t help notice Fabianski contributed quite a bit to the urgency in our game along with TR7. Occasionally dangerous with his quick throw-outs but really kept the game flowing forward.”

    Fabianski does not get much credit, but this is one of the things he does really well. Szczesney could learn that from him as there were a few times last week when he missed the chance to make a quick throw out to Chamberlain who was unmarked on the left. He seemed to always look right like he had a blind spot to his left.

    LimparAssist | January 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm – Tune! Sounds like I missed a really good game today.

  21. JonJon says:

    i noticed that as well BB 😉
    id love to know what was said in the dressing room at half time as well..
    cos whatever got said needs to get said again before the next game…and the game after….and so on..

  22. Billy’s Boots says:

    JJ, yes, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe what AW said (assuming it was him) will be revealed one day in his autobiography! Either that, or one of the players will give a 140-character summary on Twitter. 😉

  23. Billy’s Boots says:

    I just saw some brief highlights. I hadn’t realised that for their second goal, we had both centre-backs pushed up alongside RVP. What were they thinking?!

  24. Billy’s Boots says:

    That would be interesting. We’ll have to wait and see (unless you get another call :)).

    Right, off to bed!

  25. Evil says:

    Interesting snippet from Wenger’s press conference. Wenger wants to send Ryo back on loan, but he can’t send him anywhere outside England because if he does, Ryo won’t count as homegrown anymore. So we might see him at a Premiership or Championship club soon.

  26. goonerkam says:

    We are super lucky. To have this much good depth. In goalkeeper position.

  27. Gainsbourg69 says:

    RVP went for his head, but the ball was low enough that it looked like a box out similar to what a player does when receiving the ball and he has an opposing player behind him. Had he gotten his elbow above shoulder height he would’ve been in trouble. Ninja indeed. That packet of cunts deserve it though.

  28. Gunner4Ever says:

    McLeish fury….

    Fuck Off McLeish, you freaking whiner…why now Van Persie is not a “Gentle Giant”?

  29. goonerkam says:

    Right on
    Too bad. Was hoping to see more of Ryo in the unimportant games. I hope we didn’t just bring park and ryo over for commercial reasons. I just can’t believe. That.

  30. goonerandy says:

    Well, what a game.

    I actually thought we played pretty well in the first half. We did not really threaten too often, but looked comfortable and was good in possesion. First goal was just basic defending with Ramsey getting left 2 against 1 from a corner. Should not happen. The 2nd we got caught on the break and it was a well taken goal.

    2nd half we were a different team and ripped into them. AOC and Theo were causing havoc on the wings and Rosicky really started pulling the strings in midfield (MotM for me). Le Coq did very well at right back as well I thought.

  31. goonerandy says:

    And was I the only one that hid behind a pillow evertime the ball was at Fabianski’s feet? The guy takes an age to decdide what he is going to do with it. That aside, he did what he had to do well.

  32. DeiseGooner says:

    The arseblogger has the right if it – Alex McLeish is calling for Robin van Persie to be investigated for an alleged elbow on Carlos Cuellar. You might suggest that’s a bit rich when you consider Richard Dunne managed to get away with an awful challenge on Rosicky and then escape a 2nd yellow when flooring Ramsey for the penalty. Again this is one of those agendas driven by the media and a manager who wants to deflect attention away from the fact his team threw away a two goal lead.
    We saw a fantastic game of football yesterday and that the papers this morning are focusing on this issue tells you so much about how the media operates. Sensationalism rules and it’s sad that a comeback from 2-0 down isn’t sensational enough for them. To me it looked fairly innoccuous, and if van Persie is punished after Commander Worf got away with this last week then I think we can feel very hard done by indeed. Also, it ought not to be overlooked that McLeish looks like a withered, sunburnt testicle.

  33. Aman says:

    I hope Ryo goes to Bolton
    Coyle’s been known to put some useful mileage & confidence on youth

  34. dupsffokcuf says:


    Arseblog saying McLeish looks like a “withered, sunburnt testicle” is rather apt.

  35. korihikage says:

    won’t be surprised if rvp gets slapped with a 3match ban now.. the wussies at the fa have something against us. i bet they are livid the ref actually dare give us 2 penalties yest.

    though to be honest, if they arent penalties, i really dont know what you must do to get one.

    and the cunts behind me were shouting, for the first penalty, that ramsey has lost control of the ball, so no penalty.

    what bollocks. it’s the problem we get nowadays when the rules are open to misinterpretation because of precendented cases.

  36. pedantic george says:

    This is poor.
    I am going to have to read Arseblog.
    Hope I don’t turn into a backstabbing snake in the grass.Its not catching is it?

  37. DeiseGooner says:

    If skysports decide to run with what the sunburned testicle said then the FA will get involved i have no doubt. The FA are known to bow to media scapegoating

  38. goonerandy says:

    RvP’s “elbow” was nothing. His arm caught him, but both arems were up as he was controlling the ball. Meh.

    George – You don’t read Arseblog? That and ACLF are the only 2 blogs I read daily. Both excellent.

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