Premiership: Aston Villa 1 – Arsenal 2

Posted: December 2, 2007 in Adebayor, Arsenal, Arsene, EPL, Flamini, Gallas, Hleb, Premiership

Gardner (14)

Flamini (24), Adebayor(36)

Match Gunner : Alex Hleb

We were just coming off our first defeat of the season. Villa were on a four game winning streak. It promised to be an interesting game and it didn’t disappoint. Game started at 1.15 am here and the majority of fans watching with me at the shop were either Arsenal or plastic Man Utd fans( Cheering the opposition when they score and leaving when they are losing)

Game started with the 4-4-1-1 that Wenger loves so much nowadays. Ade up front; Hleb in the hole, Rosicky, Eboue, Diarra, Flamini in midfield. Our backline of Sagna, Clichy, Gallas, Toure and Almunia rounded it up.

Villa were bullish and the noise generated by the Villa Park faithful was almost deafening. Either that or the mamak owner decided to pump the volume to the max for this game. Villa were buoyant with their consecutive wins and were in no mood to set up shop for a draw.

We had some decent chances and played the same style of football everyone loves to have in their team. Crisp passes. Nice one twos. Everything clicked. A long passing movement saw Eboue(getting tired of the pass) shoot a decent chance in and was saved by Carson. Hleb had a chance too when he was through in the middle but was dispossessed by Carson’s tackle. Then came their goal. Flamini lost the ball to Carew who powered on the left wing and put a cross in. It came off the foot of Toure, off the head of Gallas and landed perfectly to Gardner who just had to more or less slide it in. Against the run of play? You bet. The whoops and high fives were given by the aforementioned “fans of the game” It was the 14th minute and there was plenty of time for that to change.

The run of play remained in Arsenal’s favour. I recall the screen showing Arsenal 60% Villa 40% and before long, we had another brilliant chance when Rosicky’s shot was just deflected wide after fine play by Sagna. Ade and Hleb both had Laursen turn their shots out too.

The equaliser finally came when Sagna and Eboue conjured up a play on the right which was looped in by Eboue. Rosicky stumbled but managed to touch it to Flamini who cannoned the shot in leaving Carson with no chance. No chance at all. After scoring, he decided to dedicate the goal by pulling off his shirt to reveal a handwritten Katie* edit Katita on it seems like somebody has solved the mystery: afcblog via third gen via shusinogi oyabe Katita translate to fighter in Japanese and Arsene used to be nicknamed honorable fighter during his Grampus Eight coaching days. *Edit, it seems that this is not the whole truth. Ah, bugger it. Onwards to the Newcastle game!

Didn’t get yellow carded for it; luckily. He might have Ade to thank; judging from the picture to the right; he helped Mathieu keep his shirt on. Ade’s motherly look of concern is priceless.

The goal didn’t stop Arsenal from further controlling the game. A Flamini shot via Hleb was again deflected wide by the body of another Scandinavian Villa defender(Mellberg/Laursen??). Hleb and Rosicky had their shots saved by Carson too.

Our impetus and verve paid off ten minutes later when Sagna’s cross found Adebayor who made a delightful header into the net. Again, Carson simply had no choice but in honesty, the Villa defense could have been tighter.

We were controlling the game but could not find another goal in the half. Flamini hit another shot wide. You have to say that he is relishing his freedom in Cesc’ absence. This was the missing ingredient last year. Goals from midfield. This year Hleb, Flamini and Cesc have all stepped up to the plate in this regard in the absence of Gilberto. The score finished 1-2 at the half and could it get better in the second?

After the break, it was all Villa. Especially after Carew brought down Hleb to be replaced with Walcott. Luckily they had nothing to show for their possession. Two of their best chances came via Carew(more on him later) First chance came when Carew’s turn caught Toure flatfooted but somehow he scuffed his shot and the follow through was prodded wide by Laursen. The other one came when his header from Young lobbed and hit the crossbar. We hung on for the win and had to bring in Gilberto for Rosicky to stabilize the defense. The one thing that stands out in this current Arsenal side. Resilience and focus. Is this the effect of Gallas as captain? Maybe. Just maybe. I still have not forgiven him for ranting to the press last season. He is a great player and hats off to him for showing he is a great captain as well.

Going back to the part on Carew. The foul occurred when Hleb was in sight of goal. Cynical? Surely. Hleb wasn’t the last man but nonetheless, Carew had no chance in hell to get to the ball. He escaped with a yellow which is more than I can say for Hleb who was bleeding and had to be brought off. Achilles injury I hear. The whole game changed without Hleb on the pitch. Very limited articles on this. Setanta has a few Nice yellow banners.Goal.com has one Hopefully he will be fit for Wednesday’s away clash at Newcastle. We need him. * one more minute on the pitch and that would mean another point the the premierleague fantasy game.

Post match comments: Tale of two half’s.

O’ Neill

We totally dominated the second half. Arsenal are a very fine side, but we deserved to get a point.

We showed great character in the second half and I don’t think Arsenal have been put under that sort of pressure for some time.

The players just have to have that belief that they can win these type of games. Our attitude was magnificent.

Wenger

I think the first half was amazing.

We were quick and sharp on the move, while in the second half we were resilient and showed commitment and calm to deal with the pressure.

This was a big test for us. We were really tested when we were losing and we deserve a lot of credit. We wanted to extend our lead and we’re happy

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