Villa lose at home to Arsenal. Dave Woodhall was Hollywood star-spotting.
Sometimes it’s just not your day. The omens were there with Unai Emery’s record against this old club and the referee seeming to be on our side. More importantly, Arsenal were on a bad run and should have been shattered after losing to Manchester City in midweek. Emery put out an attacking side with Emiliano Buendia and Philippe Coutinho starting and more options on the bench, so fingers crossed we were in for a spectacle.
Five minutes after kick-off it seemed like crossed fingers weren’t needed, when a good ball from Matty Cash saw Ollie Watkins beat his marker to hit home a fourth goal in four games. He’s had some criticism for missing chances, but you can’t ask more of your top striker than a goal in every game. Unfortunately you should be asking more than the defending that gave Arsenal an equaliser thirteen minutes later. It might be an admirable idea to attempt to play every ball to a team-mate but it’s not so admirable when you don’t manage it and the ball falls straight to an unmarked attacker ten yards out.
Still, half an hour gone and a lovely flowing move saw the impressive Phillipe Coutinho putting Villa back into the lead. Two-one up against the league leaders and looking impressive. The first half had gone well for Villa and for anybody who might have been making their first visit to Villa Park, whether that be some young kid or an multiple Oscar winner.
But if this was your first visit, what came next would have been more of a surprise than it was to veteran Villa watchers. Arsenal came out after the break looking completely different and dominated far too much of the game from then on. Villa, even less surprisingly, conspired to give them an equaliser by switching off at a quick corner.
Even then Villa had a great chance to take the lead again when Leon Bailey, who looked impressive at times when he came on after Arsenal’s equaliser, hit the woodwork at the end of a powerful run. As the game wound down towards what appeared its conclusion, Villa seemed to have settled for a point when a shot from Arsenal hit the bar and bounced away. It could have gone anywhere, it hit Emiliano Martinez and bounced back into the net. And without that, the fourth would never have happened. When your luck’s out…
Another four goal defeat and another inquest. Villa’s defence isn’t good enough, they make too many mistakes and their confidence must be on the floor. Emery’s long-term plans are clear and they probably don’t include too many of the players he’s picking now, but while he’s forced by circumstances then it might be an idea if, just for the next few weeks, he goes back to basics and most of all reminds the team that there have been many technological advances and rule changes in football during recent times, but you still can’t score when the ball’s been kicked into the stand. See you next time Tom.