It’s the penultimate round of Premier League fixtures of the 2019/20 campaign and Arsenal is on the road again, going up against relegation-threatened Aston Villa.
The Gunners will be hoping to make it three-straight wins across all competitions, whereas the Villains, well, they’re staring down the barrel and fighting for top-flight survival.
Good day one and all.
Arsenal put their past failings against both Liverpool and Manchester City behind them with two impressive wins within four days. First beating The Reds 2-1 in the league on Wednesday, then booking their spot in the finals of the FA Cup thanks to a 2-0 victory over City on Saturday night.
With three games left on our calendar the aim now is to maintain that good run, culminating in the Wembley clash against Chelsea to show that the club is indeed heading in the right direction under head-coach Mikel Arteta.
For the Gunners to make European football through the league, well, Crystal Palace is playing in flip-flops so we would need Chelsea to beat Wolves on the final day, as well as us winning our last two games by a few goals. However, if that doesn’t go our way, we have an escape route of winning the FA Cup final to keep the continental hopes in our hands.
Conversely, it has been a very disappointing return to the Premier League for Aston Villa; who with just eight wins from 36 games are 18th in the league table, three points and a 4 goals worse off than 17th-placed Watford.
Dean Smith, however, will feel that avoiding defeat here would give them a real shot at survival going into the final matchday, considering the managerless Hornets have Man City (tonight) and Arsenal still to play.
That said, having lost each of their previous six matches against the Gunners the odds are not looking good for the Villains. So if they are to turn that around, they will need to dig into all of their mental resources and ability tonight.
Arsenal is likely to go with a similar XI as the one from the Reds game with Cédric Soares, Rob Holding, Bukayo Saka, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson and Sead Kolasinac all expected to start.
Eddie Nketiah also returned from suspension and could lead the attack, while if Mesut Özil has fully recovered from a back problem, may well make his first appearance since the restart.
This is a massive game for Villa who will be desperate for all three points, however, with Arsenal determined to finish the season on a high they will not be in a charitable mood. COYG!
8th to 10th, let’s see what Arteta can do next season, but that looks like a decline to me…..heads really should roll, and not just ending with Emery’s
This club have helped make mike Riley very happy this season
Mandy, blowing away team, under Arteta we have managed to score more than twice only 3 times in all competitions, Newcastle and Norwich 4-0, and 3-2 over Everton, think its 26 games
Arsenal will finish outside of the premier league top 6 for the first time in 25 years
once again watching us play tonight putting in high crosses with no one really bothered to challenge for, I could not but miss Giroud, and feel we have to bring in a big man CF this summer, even if its only as an option off the bench.
Dropped 6 points to Brighton (15th)
Dropped 2 points to Norwich (20th)
Dropped 2 points to Bournemouth (19th)
Dropped 2 points to Watford* (18th)
Dropped 3 points to Aston Villa (17th)
15 points dropped against the bottom 5 teams in the league.
Pathetic really , they need to stop this decline if they really have the ambitions they claim.
Still, could be worse, honestly think we could have been relegated if they had kept Emery…..as some in the club clearly wanted
conspiracy theory doing the rounds, the 3 players who refused to take a wage reduction at AFC were Gundouzi, Ozil and Sokratis, and all 3 have been frozen out of the team. Also Ozil’s wages are made up of a lot of bonus payments, so if he does not play he is on less, if he is not in the squad he is paid less, the lower we finish will affect his bonus placements too. Arteta did say something yesterday about others, the club have to agree to Ozil being in the team
on ozil I seen one of the big bloggers and a member of the we care do you lot, today claim that it would be good business for AFC to not only let Ozil leave for free this summer, but in fact pay £250K of his weekly wage for a year, so his new club would only have to pay him £100K a week. Seemingly paying £13M to Ozil to play for someone else for a year is better business that paying him £18.2M to play for us.
Mikel Arteta was in reflective mood as he faced the media after our defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
Our head coach was asked about the reasons for our display, what he needs in the transfer window and Mesut Ozil.
This is what he said in his press conference:
on the disappointment of the result..
This is football and every game is completely different. First of all, I’ll congratulate Villa on their performance and the win under such pressure of fighting relegation and for us it’s been a very emotionally and physically demanding week. We tried everything. I think you cannot fault the effort of the players, but after the goal we needed to find ways to attack them better in the final third and we lacked that creativity and that final cross and spark.
on how his players can get past the issue of attacking low blocks…
Training, time and understanding the spaces. Where they are, how we can provoke them, where we need the bodies and the areas that we have to attack. And then a little bit in the first half I felt that we didn’t have the urgency with the ball. In the second half it was much better, we controlled the transitions much better as well, but it wasn’t enough.
on if he doesn’t see the logic in selecting Ozil against low blocks…
We played other games as well and the answer is not just a player, it is a collective of patterns that have to happen and we did really well in certain ways but the end product of the final ball wasn’t good enough and the last chance that we had hit the post. But this is football.
on the banner that was flown over the stadium…
I have full support from the Kroenkes, from the board, from the sporting director and we are putting a very strong plan together to try to do as much as we can in the shortest period. At the end of the day, the league table doesn’t lie and we know the gap that we have to fill in and we are on board with trying to do everything together.
on whether he thinks his comments after the Liverpool game led the fans to this conclusion…
I don’t know but if that’s the impression then it’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to emphasise – and I’ll do it again – that we need to improve in many areas. The first of all is my responsibility, to improve the team and everything with the mentality of course as well. After that, we have certain areas that we need to get better. The top teams in certain areas are better than us and we have to do that. The uncertainty is the reality. We have uncertainty because of the coronavirus, it hit everybody hard and we don’t know if we are finishing in Europe and there is uncertainty with a few players, so I have to try to be honest and that is what I said.
on if this is a key transfer window for us…
That is one thing, and the other thing is the specificity you need within that squad balance to do it consistently. We’ve done it, today we had a different challenge, completely different game and we have to find a way to do that. That will take time because at the end of the day when you have that many points of margin with the top teams it’s for a reason. We know that reason and we will try to put it right with a lot of work first and in the right moments with the players that we need in order to do that.
on if this result shows what a big transfer window this will be…
The big challenge is to keep going on the process, keep the players believing in what we are doing, improve them as much as we can and then make some really good decisions in certain areas and that’s what we need. That’s it.
on finishing outside of the top six…
It has to hurt and we have to suffer because it is not good enough for this football club. That’s why we have to put it right, we have a challenge that is really big and we are facing it and we are really excited about what we have ahead of us. We need to transmit this enthusiasm and passion because they’re going to be some ups and down, unfortunately. Today is a down but sometimes it is good to see the reality and then go again and move on and improve.
on having the FA Cup final still to come…
Absolutely and I think if we looked back we would be happy to be in the position that we are. To have the opportunity to grab a trophy and go directly to Europe.
on if the FA Cup being our only route to Europe now affects our approach to our final Premier League game…
No, no, no. We will try to prepare for the game in exactly the same way, try to beat Watford. We need to win straight away, after a defeat you need to win. You need to get that momentum back, the confidence… Everybody has to feel ready for the final so that won’t be case
on if there is now added pressure for the final…
Yes because after a disappointment you have to lift the players and you want to play straight away as quickly as possible. The players were disappointed today, again I can’t fault their effort because I think they tried and tried till the last minute really really hard but it’s been an emotionally and physically demanding week. If we feel like that we have to find way to come here and win when you are so dominant…. It is what it is.
on Mesut Ozil…
I don’t know. I try to make the best decisions for the team and the club.
on if that’s the best decision for the team…
All I can say is sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong and sometimes I get it very wrong so all the time I will try my best.
Copyright 2020 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.
Interesting theory about the wage cuts, but those wage cuts were supposedly voluntary, and if that’s true, smacks of the club cutting off its nose to spite its face.
I can see why not all would accept a wage cut at a business owned by a billionaire , it was the players choice, the club handed those contracts.
We could have done with ozil, and papa can be a decent defender, I remember a game or two where he had Kane in his pocket, even with dodgy refs.
But it seems there is clearly some issue with Ozil, unless he is carrying an injury, but surely Arteta could just say if that was the case. I suspect wages and finances may well come into it, who knows, a real shame.
Was thinking during the game how much we missed the dynamism of Martinelli in that game.
Arteta is very good at the subject in questions!
Can it possibly be true that the reason ozil is not playing and we have no midfield is because of money, because he would not agree to a pay cut or to save on his bonuses?
It is bad enough that except for the occasional inspired action by one of our players, we only seem to score when out opponents put it on a plate, we are now the laughing stock of the league because we cut off our noses to spite our faces to save money, that is bleeding our of the club anyway, especially in the wages paid to a player we do not use because he won’t agree to allow the club to save money on his wages.
If arteta willingly agrees to this then what sort of manager is he?
How many season ticket holders would be happy to renew if all they get to watch is the garbage served up last night?
The FA cup final is a mirage just like Emery’s 22 game run, as it simply covers up the self-destructive hierarchy that has been installed, no doubt at great expense, in our beloved club.
Mediocrity here we come, but faster than one might have thought possible.
Obviously disappointing and seems like a step back, but plenty of mitigating factors to consider too, not least player fatigue due to frentic recent schedule leading to large scale rotation. Throw in a very slow pitch, age and inexperience of players like Saka, Nketiah and Willock, and the fact that there was a lot more at stake for Villa than us and you have, as many a wizzened old pro would say, ‘all the makings’.
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