Arsenal 1 – 2 Aston Villa
The Greek writer, Aesop once wisely stated that “slow and steady wins the race…” he clearly never won anything. This mentality dominated the Arsenal mindset who succumbed to another defeat at the Emirates after Darren Bent with extraordinary pace put Aston Villa ahead after merely 12 minutes; followed by another goal at 15. A consolation goal from Van Persie in the 89th was nothing to cheer for or write home about, as Arsenal fans poured out the Emirates before the so called ‘appreciation lap.’
The game witnessed Thomas Vermaelen making his first senior appearance for Arsenal since September, pairing with Sebastien Squillaci. It was a bold move given that neither have played much this year. Combined with Robin Van Persie’s (who also started) lack of fitness throughout the season, it makes you wonder how different things could have been if Vermaelen had been fit this year.
Following Bent’s early brace, Arsenal attempted to get themselves back into the game with a series of corners won. They were denied after thirty minutes when their most significant attack was scuppered as Aaron Ramsey positioned himself to shoot, only to have his foot clipped by Richard Dunne. On another day, another referee and a possible yellow card or penalty would have been given, but not this time. Half time and Arsenal were 2-0 down; oh how we’ve seen it all before.
The second half saw Squillaci off and replaced with striker Marouane Chamakh. Arsenal continued to press hard for goals, dominating possession as per the common routine, and were nearly rewarded in the 76th minute when Chamakh headed in a Walcott cross. The whistle was blown and there were bemused faces all around as to why; had Chamakh pushed off? Highly doubtful, and once again Arsenal were denied a beautiful goal. The Arsenal did get a late scrappy goal from Van Persie to make it 2-1, before missing another opportunity during the four minutes of injury time.
‘Less focus on the perfect goal’ is a common statement used by pundits and commentators and it was not wrong today either. The consequence of dropping Wenger’s brand would be no more beautiful game, but at least we could have achieved title dreams rather than settling for fourth place and the prospect of battling through more matches in the qualifying rounds of the Champion’s League.
It was not exactly a glorious final home match of the season. Advice for next season: hide Arsène Wenger’s copy of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare.’
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