Before the match Paul Lambert acknowledged it was a far different Arsenal side his team would face than the one the Midland club defeated 3-1 on the opening day of the season. Back then though it may be hard to believe, Arsenal fans were calling for the head of Arsene Wenger but now the tables have turned with recent cries for the sacking of Lambert by the Villa faithful. Injuries and misfiring strikers have not helped the Villa cause but this is not the first time they have capitulated this season. Most recently, the FA Cup defeat against Sheffield United attracted widespread criticism but this is a time where the club must unite. After the major blip before half-time tonight, Lambert will be proud of how his troops gathered and pressured the Arsenal goal. This is evidence that they are capable of giving the fans something to shout about in weeks to come. With Christian Benteke’s goal comes hope. If he and Gabriel Agbonlahor can rekindle what they have shown before then Villa have a fearsome strike force which could spearhead them up the table.
Last season, Arsenal scored 52 goals in all competitions with Jack Wilshere in the side. However, the Gunners enjoyed more success without him in the starting line-up. This is a statistic sure to evaporate if the player can add more goal-scoring prowess to his game. Tonight’s goal was just his third this season, though he does not shy away from the attacking positions. Wenger chose to play him in his preferred central role which allowed the England international to roam freely up and down the park to the anguish of the Villa side. A goal and an assist prove this must be where he is played if his manager wants to get the best out of the midfielder. His vision and passing execution have regularly been a dangerous tool in the Gunners armoury but if the North London club are to remain in top-spot then he must improve his scoring credentials.
With the recent news of Theo Walcott being sidelined for six months, Arsenal fans have unsurprisingly been worried if the club can possess as much danger down the flanks without their speedster. However, throughout tonight’s encounter Villa struggled to cope with Arsenal’s wide play. From the first whistle, Bacary Sagna caused problems with his speed and delivery into the box. If Villa thought they would have it easy on the other side they were wrong. Nacho Monreal cleverly drifted inside then out wide on a number of occasions to give Wenger’s men another dimension. Though Villa’s initial formation helped Arsenal’s wide play, the club certainly have the resources to cope without Walcott. His goals will be a miss but with the creativity of the likes of Monreal, Santi Cazorla and Wilshere the chances will come. Along with this if Giroud can continue in his fine form then Wenger is sure to enjoy the results that will come his way over the coming months.
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