Arsenal claimed three vital points at home to Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon to end a rough week on a high.
The game started well enough for the Gunners with Santi Cazorla netting after just 6 minutes. Jack Wilshere played him the ball and after the Spaniard’s initial effort was blocked, he made no mistake the second time around.
Despite taking an early lead, Arsenal failed to build on it. Villa came close to equalising when Gabriel Agbonlahor saw his shot parried away by Szczesny in the Arsenal goal and then nobody was able to get on the end of a terrific cross by Charles N’Zogbia. Had any Villa forward made contact with it, it was in. N’Zogbia then saw an effort of his saved well by Szczesny.
Olivier Giroud then had an effort saved just before half time in a half that the Gunners had struggled to create meaningful chances in. The Frenchman sliced an effort wide in the second half as the hosts looked to increase their advantage and put the game to bed.
As long as Arsenal didn’t kill the game off, you could sense that Villa had a chance of getting an equaliser. I’m never confident when it’s just 1-0 with Arsenal because unlike the George Graham Arsenal teams that so often won 1-0 and were ‘boring’, this team struggles to keep clean sheets in any games.
The equaliser came when Arsenal had a corner. Villa cleared the corner and Carl Jenkinson poorly headed the ball into the path of Charles N’Zogbia at the half way line. N’Zogbia nodded the ball on to Andreas Weimann who burst forward and went on to score from range. Villa were level and you couldn’t really argue with it. Whilst Villa hadn’t done a lot, Arsenal hadn’t either. It had been a fairly poor game up until then and it woke Arsenal up.
The Gunners pushed for a winner after Weimann equalised and with 5 minutes left, Cazorla scored his second of the game to the delight of his manager. The relief around the Emirates was clear to see when I looked around at people sitting near me. I shared the same feeling of relief in honesty. Cazorla has become the first Arsenal player since Thierry Henry in 1999/2000 to score 10 league goals in their first season with the club. Impressive, but thinking about it, he netted three at Reading and two on Saturday, so there’s half of them already!. But I’m not complaining, we needed those goals at Reading and against Villa!.
It is a vital three points for Arsenal and they are now just 2 points off of third spot with Chelsea losing to Manchester City on Sunday. Tottenham do have a game in hand tonight away to West Ham. That will be a tricky fixture for them and any dropped points there would certainly be welcomed. Arsenal’s next fixture is against Tottenham next Sunday at 4pm. It is at White Hart Lane and if the Gunners can win there, it would certainly give their league position a big boost. On the other hand, if Tottenham beat West Ham tonight and then go on to beat Arsenal at the weekend, it will be difficult to finish above them this season. That’s why a draw is the absolute minimum Arsenal can leave White Hart Lane with next weekend for me.
It wasn’t a convincing display at all this weekend, but hopefully it will give the boys some confidence ahead of the crucial North London Derby next weekend.