- Nacho’s wing-play and crossing: I thought Monreal had a good game today. Every time he comes and supports the attack on the left wing, Nacho makes himself available and exhibits excellent composure. His final ball is also very good, and it looks like he will be an improvement on Gibbs who still needs to develop further with regards to his delivery into the box. His pullback for Cazorla’s second goal was pure class, but there were more examples of good delivery into the box today: a very promising development.
- Jenkinson’s composure and general wing-play: I thought Carl did well today. He put a number of sharp balls into the box, especially in the second half. He also played with good drive and hunger, and had some fantastic battles with Agbonlahor. One or two headers could have been better and his link-up play with Arteta was a bit rusty, but that is to be expected after not playing many games in recent months.
- Cazorla’s finishing: Once again Theo, and especially Giroud, did not have their shooting boots on, but Cazorla was in fine form today and scored a brace in the process. The diminutive Spaniard was everywhere and seemed to revel in his free role today. He worked very hard; helping out the team as much as possible up-front, in the middle and at the back. It has been a while since we had a midfielder who makes such great runs into the box and Santi positions himself really well. Many a player would have blasted the ball for his second goal, but his composure and technique made sure that this chance was not wasted. In his free role on the wing we might get a new fox in the box, and today Santi has been worth his weight in gold: without him we would not have won today.
- As a unit, our defense still lacked organisation and structure: Once we scored the first goal, Villa were able to build up decent attacks on a number of occasions; and both our midfield and defense were not cohesive and well-disciplined enough to take back control, especially in the first half. The game flowed up and down, and we were wasteful in not scoring the second goal during that phase. However, Villa also had a couple of decent chances; and had they scored, it would not necessarily have been against the run of play. Diaby had started strong in the first 20-30 minutes, but faded away towards the end of the first half, and Arteta was turned over a few times as well. As our two ‘DM’s’, Arteta and Diaby have some way to go, and on days like these, I am still smarting about our loss of Alex Song last summer. I also felt the triangle of Mertesacker, TV and Szczesny looked unorganized, or should I say allover the place, at times. The Villa goal was a well-worked counter-attack by them, although our fullbacks did not cover themselves in glory: Jenkinson’s header should have been aimed better and Nacho should have closed down Weimann’s shot. However, from that distance he should not be able to score and I thought Wojcieh should have done better. Our defense remains an area in need of improvement.
- Lack of clinical finishing by Theo and especially Giroud: Football is a team sport, and let me say first of all that both Theo and Giroud worked hard for the team; especially the Frenchman worked his socks off. However, both players lacked composure and clinical finishing skills in the box today, and especially Giroud lacks quality at the moment. It looks like he is trying too hard again, which seems to influence his decision-making and execution quite a bit. I like Giroud for his work-rate, but hard work will not be enough to make it at Arsenal, and the jury remains out about him. Theo made some good runs on the wing and put a few more than decent balls into the box, but him and Giroud do not have a great understanding between them as yet, which is also costing us at the moment.
A vital win at this stage of the season and well-deserved, I thought.
Although, it should be said that Villa played also well today, and did not just park the bus against us. They soaked up pressure well and were regularly dangerous; especially on the break.
Santi made a real difference today and I am really happy he stepped up when our three midfielders; Arteta, Diaby, and to a lesser extent, Jack, did not have one of their best performances.
Eight days rest now, and time for the team to reflect on the last week and get ready for the all-important derby with the Spuds. We will need to be more solid in our defensive play, and dominate the midfield area better, as well as being more clinical up-front. Not much to do then! 😉
Written by: Total Arsenal.