Aston Villa and the sheer delight

Villa win at Arsenal and Dave Woodhall is more than happy.

Going into this game Villa were fourth in the table and Arsenal third, yet we were 11/1 to win. Of course, that takes into account their form and our injury saga, which is becoming longer and more expensive than HS2. It also shows how difficult it will be for a team such as Villa to compete with the three alleged bigger clubs, as well as the size of the task at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

The team Unai Emery picked was full of attacking promise, probably because he had no more down to having no other options available although it was good to see Matty Cash back on the bench. And so Villa kicked off, looking to capitalise on Saturday’s results, although this was more in hope than expectation.

And then, once the game started it didn’t take long to show that Villa could, indeed, get something from this match. There was still no real expectation, because after all this is the Villa we’re talking about, but we more than matched Araenal throughout the first half. They had a couple of chances, then Ollie Watkins hit the post and the ball somehow bounced back into play before rolling along the face of the goal and spinning outside the far post. Emiliano Martinez then pulled off a save that ordinary goalkeepers would call miraculous and the world’s best would say was all in a day’s work.

That was just about the last threat Arsenal showed all game. The second half began with Villa in control, a shot from Youri Tielemans defying gravity by hitting the bar then the post and somehow not crossing the line. Villa didn’t have much in the way of options on the bench but one of them, Leon Bailey, came on for Moussa Diaby after an hour and provided another element of danger. The team began to look increasingly dominant although there were still no goals,and Alex Moreno came on with ten minutes to go for Nicolo Zaniolo, who had done a decent job but was starting to tire.

Four minutes later Lucas Digne’s low cross was missed by everyone except Bailey, coming in at the far post to give Villa the lead. And it that wasn’t enough, three minutes from time Ollie Watkins ran onto a a long, perfectly-weighted ball from Tielemans, beat his marker and hit a decisive second. Two-nil was no more than Villa deserved at the end of what might have been the most impressive and important win of Emery’s time at Villa.

There have been better performances and better wins, but for this patched-up side to go to the Emirates to face an Arsenal side on top form and outplay them for ninety minutes was the stuff of dreams. The goalscorers got the headlines but special mention should be made for Diego Carlos, who dealt with everything thrown at him, and Morgan Rogers, who looks as though he’s been playing in the Premier League for years rather than weeks.

The weekend’s results have almost certainly handed the title to Manchester City but whatever they end up winning, their supporters will experience nothing like the joy that we felt when the ball hit the back of the net and in those few minutes between the second goal and the final whistle, when the win was certain. You can buy players, you can buy trophies, you can buy your way out of trouble 115 times over. You can never buy the sheer, naked emotion of times like Sunday afternoon at the Emirates.

One thought on “Aston Villa and the sheer delight

  1. I’m sure we were like many Villans watching the game and constantly revising our expected outcome upwards…
    Let’s just avoid a spanking; maybe a one goal defeat; we don’t look unduly under pressure here; if that shot from Ollie had just been one inch further inside; let’s make it to half-time at 0-0; we’re in control here and look like the home team; we might rue hitting the woodwork if it stays goal-less and we don’t get the 3 points;
    to: is there time for another one?
    Maybe cos i’ve been a Villa fan for so long that part of me thinks ‘let’s not outplay Arsenal and drop points at home to Bournemouth’……

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