B. Saka (25 og)
O. Watkins (72, 75)
What a very bizarre performance from Arsenal who lost another consecutive Premier League home game this season. Mikel Arteta’s men were totally a different side to the one that beat Manchester United a fortnight ago at Old Trafford. There was hardly any rhythm in their gameplay as they struggled to muster just 2 shots on target throughout the game.
Arsenal started with the same lineup that beat Manchester United, giving rests to the likes of David Luiz, Granit Xhaka, and Nicholas Pepe.
Aston Villa on their part was very brilliant on the night as they put forward a breathtaking performance at the Emirates to ensure that they came out with all three points.
Villa had the ball in the net inside the first minute when John McGinn fired home, only for referee Martin Atkinson to cancel the goal after a VAR review that Ross Barkley had blocked the view of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno from an offside position. A weak pass from McGinn at the other end almost let in Thomas Partey shortly afterward, but Emiliano Martinez reacted quickly to clear the danger. Villa were the more positive side, however, and took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Barkley’s pass pierced the Arsenal defence and Matt Targett’s cross – intended for Trezeguet – was misdirected into the net by Saka. Alexandre Lacazette went close to equalizing late in the half when he got on the end of a superb cross from Kieran Tierney but could only head over the bar.
Thomas Partey was replaced at halftime by Dani Ceballos after the midfielder appeared to have picked up a thigh injury. In the second half, Aston Villa striker, Watkins, who netted a hattrick against champions Liverpool earlier in the season, got his head on the end of a volleyed cross from Barkley, leaving Leno with no hope to double the scoreline. Villa added another shortly afterward when Jack Grealish burst forward, as Arsenal were caught on the counterattack, and fed the ball to Watkins who finished confidently to make the scoreline 3-0 and ensure that Aston Villa left with all 3 points and 3 goals.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
* Arsenal have lost back to back premier league home matches already this season, having previously lost 1-0 to Leicester City.
*Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to have a shot on target throughout the entire 90 minutes for the first time in his Arsenal career. This goes a long way to prove the lack of creativity in the Arsenal team.
*Arsenal have lost 4 matches out of 8 already this season, scoring just 9 goals in the process.
The international break cannot come too soon for Arsenal who needs to quickly reshuffle their pack ahead of a very tight run of fixtures when football resumes. But first, they need to access the extent of Partey’s injury to ensure his availability after the international break. Mikel Arteta will also have the chance to review his team’s manner of approach in order to ensure consistent performance from them.
Match Preview by Patrick Alexander