A Stroll In The Villa Park


Great, so I’m a genius again …

I watched the game on a Spanish stream. All I could make out were the players’ names.  This was quite an eye opener.  I had to make my own mind up how we were playing. It was up to me to see how the team was set up and who was playing where, let alone who was having a good game. It was in fact a very good way to watch the game. If Stew Black is reading this, you were right all along mate.

The first 25 minutes or so seemed pretty even to me, although the hosts had the best chance with a close range effort, excellently saved by our young keeper.

Then in five minutes Arsenal fired a three-goal broadside and the Villa were sunk.

The contest was over. We dominated the remainder of the half. After the break the hosts seemed happy to take a football lesson as long as it didn’t turn into a spanking. And we seemed happy to give it and coast to the final whistle.

It was the most comfortable half of football I’ve ever seen. Lovely jubbly.

The team appeared to set up with Ramsey sitting deeper to help Mikel. A lot of the time he was behind the skipper. That allowed Mesut to be more forward thinking.

Here though is Ozil’s heat map:

ozil heatmap

Looks familiar?

Now, that looks dangerously like his every other heat map.  So don’t tell me he was playing in the hole behind Welbeck as a traditional number 10.

He played well because he played well. Perhaps the security of Aaron and Mikel helped him, or perhaps he just played better. Who knows?

I felt Aaron had another sub-par performance.  Is it because he is being played out of position? No, because he isn’t.  He is just off form a little.  He is not a bad player or anything other than a great player having a dip in form.

Just as Mesut was!

Anyway, that’s what I saw. It’s up to you to tell me if I am right or wrong.

Go on then …


You can become a part of George’s own heatmap on Twitter @Blackburngeorge


Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

85 comments on “A Stroll In The Villa Park

  1. thats good cos next time im up there im going to tap you up for a drink


  2. No problem. I’ll stand them all

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Back in UK now and hope to catch motd2 if its videod properly. Guessing home win for the Spuds, easy 3 -1 or something to Man U and no doubt a one nil to Chelsea. Still at least we won yesterday so best to concentrate on that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, Foreverheady, it was all frightfully run of the mill.

    Roll on Tuesday and some real potential banana skins.


  5. Pellegrini said Chelsea play like Stoke.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The best part of it was the fact that Lampard scored the equalizer for Man City.
    Buying Fabregas because Wenger did not want him: 27 million quid
    Buying Diego Costa because he is a soul-less big bully: 35 million quid
    Buying tons of players to get a couple of titles: several 100 million quid
    Letting Frank go and allowing him to score in a key game for the title: invaluable
    There are things money can buy…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pellegrini appears to have lost much of his calm and collected aura this season, compared to last, at least. Suggests a degree of anxiety that wasn’t previously there so somerhing has him rattled.

    Hard to guess what it might be with any certainty – but FFP issues (player loans, fines & curtailed spending projections), Yaya’s birthday cards (ie contract agitation) and dropped points likely to be chief amongst them.

    But are the Citeh owners starting to tire of the complexities of something that once seemed so simple?

    Watch that space.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting piece from BillEdgar in the Times this morning on the problems of long term injury Arsene has faced compared to our PL rivals. The meat of the article is as follows:

    “In the past ten years, Arsenal have suffered, incredibly, more than three times as many long-term injuries as Chelsea, the definition being an unavailability of at least 90 days.
    While Arsenal have experienced 52 such cases, Chelsea have had only 17. The west London club’s huge advantage in this respect has perhaps been a factor in their superiority — six top-two finishes to only one for Arsenal (runners-up in 2004-05) in that period.

    The fact that Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur — the other teams among the most successful six in that period — have all recorded between 31 and 39 long-term injuries underlines how extreme the cases of Arsenal and Chelsea have been.

    While Chelsea are no doubt congratulating themselves on keeping their players out of the treatment room, Arsenal will be searching for the cause of their problems in the knowledge that their 52 lengthy absences have come for a variety of reasons including 12 caused by breaks, fractures or dislocations, 11 by knee injuries and another 11 by ankle issues (aside from their one ankle fracture).

    There is no light at the end of the tunnel for Wenger, with Olivier Giroud and Serge Gnabry on their way to joining the list of players out for 90 days or more. As for Chelsea? A fully fit squad.”

    I suspect if they had done the same analysis in the first few years of Arsene’s reign the injury balance would have been the other way. However we are where we are, over to you Shad ………………………

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What is extraordinary, Andrew, is the paucity of theories available to try to explain the problem.

    My personal favourite is the hardness of the Emirates pitch and the equivalent training pitch up at London Colney. By all accounts it’s not too far off concrete and is incredibly unforgiving. As a non-medic, I do always wonder whether the cumulative effect of working on such a surface (which obviously doesn’t apply away from home) is what is causing at least some of the damage.

    A pal of mine played a charity game on the pitch in May just before it was ripped up and re-seeded; he said it took a week to recover from the effects which, given his youth, fitness and the fact he is a regular amateur player was, to me, remarkable.

    The pitch at AFC is sacrosanct and a huge investment in itself which might, at least partly, explain why nothing is done about it.


  10. AA, It is the same suspicion I have about the playing surface as the sharp upturn in injuries coincided with the move to the Emirates, it is not just long term “serious” injuries but the incessant “Keiran Gibbs – hamstring – three weeks etc” that are so disruptive.

    As we wee talking about a few days ago on here though in connection with the sloping corners SURELY if the rock hard surface was the cause it would have been sorted out ??

    The club spent heavily on new and bang up to date medical and treatment facilities at Colney in early Summer 2012 and to be fair the pattern of long term injury seems to have slightly improved. As the physioroom figures show however it is still behind our competitors and hurts us.

    One point that Bill Edgar may have overlooked is that at CFC if a player has one long term injury that is likely to be the limit as far as the patience of the club goes. One serious injury is unfortunate, two is downright careless.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It make it we are boycotting the Football Blogging Awards as a matter of principle?


    Liked by 4 people

  12. Heck. Wrote a post yesterday I only vaguely recall thinking, let alone posting. Up the Abbot Ale, I think

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Still trying to properly digest the astonishing weekend of results. We are very lucky to have the unfolding narrative of the Premier League to enjoy these days.

    ManU looked properly jittery and I suspect that their very good young goalkeeper is exhibiting some measure of PTSD after some of last season’s reversals. With the genuine heavies they have playing up front there will be more than a bit of attack v defence civil war breaking out soon.

    An excellent article by G Neville highlighted the age of City’s squad, and I confidently expect them to have a disappointing season compared with last year.

    Chelsea remain the antithesis of anything magical but their juggernaut grinds on, although it was a surprise to see them make such heavy weather of things yesterday.

    Liverpool will end up totally Balotellied I have no doubt about that whatsoever.

    And I think we will start to purr in most of the games where we are not asked to play at a pace just beyond our comfort zone.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The pitches of today do not have the give of the muddy mires of yesterday’s it’s true. And with improved drainage and increased travel and movement of people climate has slightly less of an effect in the game then it used to, though improved pitches can’t help players ignore temperature or humidity.

    But to be fair to the material scientists and pioneering groundtstaff out there if a referee chooses to ignore a stamp like the one from Ba on Arteta there’s not much they can do! The pitch for that away game was appalling, maybe the worst we’ll see all season, but it was not the cause of Arteta’s injury


  15. Thanks for the match report George.

    Can’t agree more with your analysis. Arsenal managed to turn the 2nd half into a testimonial game, we won’t get too many easier away games all season.
    That is only down to the work the players put in, I think Mikel Arteta had a fine game – no risks taken at any stage and metronomic passing skills (perhaps this kind of game is his level now? I hope not), Ozil and Welbeck showed their class, only (le) groaning fools would doubt their natural abilities.

    Having a trio of quality players like Jack, TR7 & and Poldi coming on as subs was a huge bonus too. The sight of them must have broken the Villains hearts.

    As for yesterday – wow! It looked like the Premier League decided to dish out Arsenal with a bonus 3 points.

    Onwards to tomorrow – and let’s spend the day picking the team for Wenger, he obviously needs our advice. Any selection that does not contain Campbell, Sanogo and at least 6 Diabys will seriously piss me off.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. FH

    Glad you also think City are passed it.


  17. AA

    The pitch was completely re-laid during the summer, wasn’t it? (or was that last season?).

    I would have thought senior players would have been asked for an input. They would know the most about using it, wouldn’t they?


  18. http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/sam-allardyce-liverpool-need-two-4300715

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it amazes me how much the self-declared Redzone experts ignore conditioning fitness and recovery time in their consistent twatterisms, the twats. Pardon my French, sorry. The perfect example: the reams of bollocks they’ve all written on Özil recently as he finds his sharpness after having just won a World Cup, which as I’m sure they all can relate to, being experts and all, such an achievement does not come without effort! What a bunch of twats, the lot of them. Given what all fans of AFC have seen with finalists after 2006 and 2010, these attacks on the Arsenal player can be seen for the lame attacks on the club and manger that they are. Absolutely uncredible.

    Dortmund really emptied the tank in the first sixty minutes on Tuesday, hence their defeat on the weekend following the CL games.

    I stick by what I wrote on Tuesday though I think Steww missed it (come back Steww!): following on from a bruising and draining battle last weekend if the Arsenal could had withstood that Blitzkrieg till half time on Tuesday they could have pulled off a similar result to last year in Dortmund. Dortmund certainly dropped off in the last twenty five and I think that was, like at Everton, due to tiredness. Fine margins and all that malarky, innit.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. The return leg with Dortmund should be interesting!
    As will the game against the ever impressive Southampton. Looks like they managed to buy good players at Arsenal-esque prices – looks like they are not specialists in signing players from special agents.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fin, I think Southampton’s good form is down to Schneiderlin playing like a man possessed. I’ve watched three of their games this season and he’s always at the center of everything good they do. I really would like to see him at Arsenal next season, I really do.


  21. DC – Pitch is stripped back and regrown from Dutch seed at the end of each season; this year it was in June. It’s not the age of the pitch that is likely to be the issue but the technology behind it, being grown on a thin bed of sand on top of a mesh to which the artificial Deso-grass is attached – it’s this which gives the pitch its exceptional strength and integrity. The absence of traditional turf may be playing a role in certain injuries but hard to prove for sure as there is no ‘smoking gun’ in the conventional sense, just speculation.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Debuchy out for three months i know thats bad but at least we have several players who can play there chambers, bellerin, le coq, flamster, hayden, taf moore even the ox to be honest

    Liked by 2 people

  23. on the pitch issue 2006 we had 7 left backs so difficult to imagine the move made that much difference that early. The injury problem is probably something they have been looking in to for a while but its a difficult one to pin down. chelski players are probably just on steroids or some new russian drug

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Gains,
    I have a speculative suspicion that the Gaffer was after his fellow Alsation this summer, but who knows?
    I know that Chambers can play CM but with the injury to Debuchy he might get his minutes only in defence for now. With Debuchy out till the new year Bellerin too will get opportunities, three games a week plus the Xmas crunch coming up, even though the AAA don’t consider Bellerin to be a player in the squad (“only six defenders” say the S&M merchants, same as Gazprom then…), because they are self-declared “realists”, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Injuries are hard to explain and fall into different categories (obviously!)
    Freak falls like Debuchy’s can happen to anyone, anytime, and the moment we saw it we knew it was going to pretty much write off this season for him. The same is true of impact injuries: stamps and kicks leading to breaks aren’t anyone’s fault (apart from the offender) but cannier players seem to avoid most of these. the Red zone lot would have us believe that muscle injuries can be avoided and I can understand their thinking, although I suspect it isn’t as straightforward as they imagine.

    It does seem to me though that if you are winning most of your games in a canter and you have a team so good that for much of the time they are playing within themselves then injuries will be few and far between. If, however, you need to be at 100% all the time just to stay competitive then I reckon you are much more likely to get injured.

    Its a bit like driving cars with different sized engines I reckon.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Debuchy out for ninety days.


  27. Good luck Mathieu – you’ll be nice and fresh to start the new year


  28. Fins
    I really appreciate your assessment of the 2006 and 2010 recovery time for Arsenal players after previous World Cups, I was thinking very much the same thing, – do you want to do some more research to see if there is a definite trend?

    Ozil played in all 7 games for German in the WC, virtual every minute (including 2 AET wins) and as far as I can recall Brazil is very hot in the summer. 655 minutes of intense football.
    I think these stats bely his importance to Germany:


  29. Blimey – for all you nerds,
    there are some fascinating heat maps on that web page for Ozil at the World Cup.
    He can play just about anywhere his manager asks him to play.

    Any dick that says he had a bad World Cup, is a Dick.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Looking at Arsenal training pictures today – Is number 66 Dan Crowley does anyone know? If we get an Irishman back in the team I’ll be insufferable.


  31. I offered an idea for a twitter handle of @HeWoreAYellowNappy for someone who constantly gives out shit, and @SheWoreAYellowRibbon has taken exception !

    Liked by 3 people

  32. I wish I remembered what I said the other day about those who don’t understand how Ozil plays.

    DC, his runs off the ball are a thing to behold. He’s an expert at creating acres of space for those around him.


  33. By the way, Mangala was exceptional yesterday. And the worst part is that he’s only twenty three.


  34. DC

    66 is indeed Dan Crowley


Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: