Arsenal suffered defeat in their opening game of the season as Aston Villa came from behind to beat them 3-1 at the Emirates this afternoon.
It had all started so well for the hosts, when Olivier Giroud put them ahead after converting an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross. Tomas Rosicky’s ball that set Chamberlain free should be noted too, as it was a fine ball from the Czech international.
Arsenal looked fairly comfortable for much of the half, dominating early proceedings, including the goal scored by Giroud. However, they were pegged back by the visitors in the 22nd minute.
Gabriel Agbonlahor burst through the Arsenal defence as if they weren’t there before being brought down by Wojciech Szczesny. The referee (Anthony Taylor) didn’t point to the spot at first, letting Villa play the advantage. When they hit the side netting after playing the advantage, the referee then pointed to the spot. I am not denying it was a penalty, but he should have pointed to the spot straight away. In honesty I feel it could easily have been a red card for Szczesny, some referees would have done that.
Christian Benteke stepped up to the spot for the visitors. Szczesny saved the penalty, but it bounced up nicely for Benteke to head in the rebound.
To add to Arsenal’s woes, shortly after, Kieran Gibbs went down with blood pouring from his forehead after a clash with Andreas Weimann. He had to be replaced by Carl Jenkinson, who went in at right-back, which meant that Bacary Sagna made the switch to left-back.
A couple of goalkeeping errors at either end proved to be the most exciting incidents following the two goals, as this game began to hot up. First, Brad Guzan was robbed by Theo Walcott in a threatening position, but he couldn’t pull the ball back for a team-mate and the chance was gone.
Shortly after, Szczesny gave most Arsenal fans a moment of panic when he failed to clear the ball and when scrambling back to the line, he was very nearly beaten by Ashley Westwood’s effort from distance.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Villa new boy Antonio Luna went into a 50-50 challenge just before the break. Chamberlain came off worse and Luna was booked. The Ox had to be taken off at the start of the second half, Santi Cazorla replaced him as the team’s came out for the second half.
Tomas Rosicky curled over a great chance shortly after the break as the Gunners started the second half brightly.
Villa hit back when Fabian Delph’s effort beat Szczesny, but couldn’t beat the post. With goal-line technology now in place in the Premier League, it’s safe to say that the ball didn’t cross the line.
When Cazorla lost the ball to Agbonlahor just after the hour, he ran through the Arsenal defence once again and Laurent Koscielny tackled him. Koscielny had made what appeared to be a perfectly fine challenge, but to the shock of many, the referee pointed to the spot for the second time in the game. Koscielny was booked for the challenge too. Benteke stepped up to take the penalty once again, but needed no second invitation this time around. He cooly slotted past Szczesny to give Villa the lead.
Things got even worse just minutes later when Koscielny was given a second booking for a foul on Weimann. Arsenal were down to ten men, they’d just conceded a penalty that was extremely soft and half the reason they were down to ten men was because of the ‘foul’ Koscielny made to concede the penalty. The referee was not a popular man at the Emirates.
Arsenal had chances to level the scores up. Rosicky was denied by a fine Guzan save before the American made an even finer stop against his own bar to deny Cazorla.
The visitors sealed all three points when their new signing Luna was put into the clear late on. The defender made no mistake, with his effort beating Szczesny and going in off of the post. All three points sealed up for Villa and a very good day at the office for them. With a tough start to their season fixture wise, they’ll be absolutely thrilled to get three points away to Arsenal.
Chants of “spend some f****ng money” were loud and clear towards the end as the fans booed at the final whistle. The fans pay top prices to watch their team but get little in return in terms of signings and success on the pitch. After 8 years of no silverware and being told that we can buy the top players in the world this summer, it is certainly an understandable reaction from the fans.
A day to forget for Arsenal. With more injuries and suspensions now here, I’m really struggling to see what kind of team Wenger will put out in tough fixtures against Fenerbahce and Fulham this week. There’s no question that new signings are needed for this team, but at the moment, can you really see the club doing anything this week?. It’ll all be done on deadline day most likely and we will probably be scrapping for 4th once again in May.
The squad depth has been my issue for a long time. You need depth and quality to win things. Arsenal have some quality, not enough quality and nowhere near enough depth to win things on a regular basis. It is worrying that we have a tough Champions League game coming up to even get to the group stages. That’s not secure yet. If we fail to qualify, will we be able to attract top players or even some other names to the club?. Would they want to play for Arsenal if they were a Europa League club?. Rooney, Suarez or anybody with ambitions bigger than finishing 4th certainly wouldn’t…