Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal: Three points in four minutes

Arsenal blasted three goals in just over three minutes to blow Aston Villa away.

Aston Villa 0-3 Arsenal
ESPN Player Ratings

Well, that was just what we needed. Arsene Wenger has a fantastic record at Villa Park, and yesterday it brought him everything he would have wished for: a straightforward three points, and goals and garlands for the under-fire duo of Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck.

It might have been so different. Amidst the understandable glee over our first comfortable win of the season, the significance of an early Wojciech Szczesny save has been slightly forgotten. With the game balanced at 0-0, the Pole produced a Schmeichel-esque star-jump to deny Ciaran Clark at close range. On such things can a game hinge.

That fact seemed to be somewhat forgotten after the defeat in Dortmund. Had Welbeck tucked away that presentable opportunity at 0-0, Arsenal would have been ahead and the course of the game diverted. The struggles to keep the Dortmund tide at bay would have been hastily rewritten as last-ditch heroics.

The criticism of the team after the Dortmund game always seemed too much, too soon. Arsenal were really good for long spells against Manchester City, and many fans seemed happy to conveniently forget that off the back of one duff display.

This team is still finding its feet. Arsene has refreshed his attack, and that has prompted a reshuffling of the midfield. At Villa Park, we took a major step forward by reverting back to the system that served us so well for much of last season. The manager lined his side up in a 4-2-3-1, with Jack Wilshere dropping to the bench and taking the 4-1-4-1 with him.

Arsenal immediately looked more at ease. Mesut Ozil shone in a central role, but just as integral to our success was the fact that he had Aaron Ramsey tucked in behind him. From a personal point of view, Ramsey had a poor game: his passing radar is malfunctioning badly, and in his desperation to regain form he is attempting flicks and ticks of unnecessary extravagance. However, playing in a deeper role he was able to provide Mikel Arteta with support and help suppress an energetic Aston Villa midfield. He was below par, but brought balance.

That said, Ozil does deserve special praise. Whatever he says publicly, Arsene Wenger must have toyed with the idea of leaving the German out. However, his faith was repaid when Ozil made two telling contributions in as many minutes to effectively sew up the game.

First he ran beyond the defence to meet a well-weighted Welbeck ball. With the goalkeeper advancing towards him, Ozil relied on his technique, passing the ball expertly in to the corner.

The opening goal gave Arsenal and Ozil’s confidence a real boost, and within seconds they had doubled their advantage. This time, the playmaker reverted to his conventional role as supplier, playing a teasing ball across the six yard box for Welbeck, who capped an intelligent piece of movement by thumping home his first Arsenal goal.

It’s great for Welbeck that he’s got off the mark. The scrutiny he was coming under was absurd given that he’d played just two games for the club against seriously tough opposition. It took Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry around eight games to open their Arsenal accounts. Olivier Giroud didn’t score until the he was picked to face Coventry in the Capital One Cup. Yaya Sanogo, as we all know, has yet to break his duck. That Welbeck has done so inside three games should relieve some of the undue pressure he was under.

I hope so, because he was excellent yesterday. It was often said of Ian Rush that he was the best defensive forward in the league. Welbeck is similar: he sprints back to harry the opposition, ensuring they are never allowed a moment’s rest. When he does get the ball, he uses it well: yesterday he completed 31 of 32 attempted passes. Given the tight spaces centre-forwards operate in, that’s outstanding. Crucially, he also seems to be striking up a good relationship with Ozil. Welbeck has the pace and movement to thrive on Ozil’s creativity, and their combination play yesterday was really exciting.

Kieran Gibbs’ cross was diverted in by Aly Cissokho to gift Arsenal a third goal inside little over three minutes. Yes, Villa collapsed, but Arsenal showed an unfamiliar ruthlessness to profit. It’s certainly nice to be on this side of a capitulation, and it was satisfying too to see us control the game so effectively in the second half.

Both Ozil and Welbeck are likely to get a rest on Tuesday when Arsenal face Southampton in the Capital One Cup. Arsene will want to keep some of the explosive powder that blew Villa away dry for derby day.

 ps. You may notice there’s been a bit of a redesign on the blog. I’m sure there’ll be some issues to iron out, but the good news is that the comments section should now be working once again. Please do feel free to contribute! Cheers.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.

13 Comments

  1. Tony   •  

    Nice blog & site looks great! Good day for gunners…

  2. Santi   •  

    Probably the best thing of the new format was finally chucking out the ‘Cesc We Can’ posters.

  3. KalamaGooner   •  

    Nice! Good to have you back!

    You are right about one thing: balance when we play Ramsey behind Ozil and covers Arteta well. I think with more games, Ramsey will strike form. Wilshere as good as he is, does not cover as much ground as Ramsey does and so we are defensively a little more suspect. Of course you can argue that this can be rectified by getting a world class defensive midfielder.

  4. kiwigoonerz   •  

    Blog’s looking good GS

  5. Goontang   •  

    Couldn’t agree more about the Absurd amount of pressure that was being placed on Welbeck for not scoring after 2 games. The criticism of Ozil was more justified to be honest. I think he was the only player in our squad who didn’t celebrate Sanchez’s screamer against Manchester City to put us in the lead. That sort of stuff I just do not understand.

    So it was a very welcoming site to see him a little bit more pumped up when he grabbed his goal and even his assist.

    Good display for both of them. Can’t wait to see Theo get back in amongst it all. Mesut will surely be licking his lips at the pace in front of him.

  6. Mean Lean   •  

    Well done on the new look site. Very nice

  7. Donstabini   •  

    Brilliant Piece

  8. Shubham   •  

    Nice sum up GS. The new formation and players take time to adjust. The attacking verve will come if we do the right things, and make right decisions. On one occasion after we were 3 goals up, Ramsey was in a great position in the Villa box. He took a shot at the near post when the OX was waiting for the lay off. These small things can make a big difference. However, it was a really good weekend. Still unbeaten in the League when many big hitters have suffered humiliating defeats. It is a good sign. Next up Spurs at home. Let us show them who’s the boss in London. COYG!

  9. Simon   •  

    the redesign looks very good. the responsive design/layout works really well on my laptop, ipad, and iphone. excellent work.

    • GilbertoSilver   •     Author

      Thanks Simon, that was one of the major things to sort out. Glad you like it.

  10. Zeddington   •  

    Ramsey looks a lot like he did prior to his breakout season. I remember the year before last, I said that if he could get his laser beam-like shots on target, he’d score a ton. His shots are all very similar: fast, hard, straight as an arrow (it’s excellent). But prior to last season they were all a few feet off target – not bad, but clearly the aim was off. He recalibrated, and made history. Now, his calibration is slightly off again, and his general play is also wasteful as it was before.

    Either this is a slump and he’ll be back soon, or last season was a fluke. I believe it’s the former, but I can’t discount the latter with any certainty. We’ve seen players have one-off seasons before sinking back into mediocrity. I don’t think Ramsey is the type, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>