Last Chance Saloon…
On balance, Villa couldn’t realistically have been expected to pick up a positive result against an Arsenal side who, at least until Monday night, have moved to the top of the Premier League. Nevertheless, the 2-0 loss was another game gone and, with Newcastle and Bournemouth winning this weekend, it left us further adrift of what is quickly becoming a 19-team league. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the latest defeat.
Villa started pretty well, in fairness. In the opening minutes they showed positive intent, enjoyed some time in the Arsenal half, and there was a genuine suggestion that they were up for the fight. Once the penalty was given inside the first seven minutes, the first half went rapidly downhill, but the players came out with more fight after the restart, and only those most minor of complaints – poor decision-making and final ball, an abject lack of any sort of quality in front of goal, that sort of triviality – stopped us at least reducing the deficit.
Though the game had already been lost well before, the second-half display really was much better than the utterly dismal first. Jordan Ayew continued the trend of recent weeks by looking lively in attack – albeit without ever posing a serious threat to the Arsenal defence – and he, along with Scott Sinclair – were the only players showing any desire to move off the ball and create things in the final third.
There was another encouraging cameo from Carles Gil and a few minutes from Adama Traore in the closing stages that got what was left of the Holte End on their feet for one of the few occasions during the afternoon, and by and large it would be unfair to label this as anything other than a fair result.
Regardless of what happens this season (I think we all have an inkling by now), Remi Garde has shown enough signs that the club needs to stick with him. There’s none of the cockney wideboy of Sherwood, but none of the dour demeanour of Lambert, his team selection is better (but still, of course, contested by fans), he handled the Jack Grealish situation excellently, and he just generally seems as competent a man as we have had in the dugout in years. The man has been given a truly monumental task, and he deserves time to rebuild, whichever division we may be in.
Click next page for the Bad & Ugly