Arsenal 1 v Aston Villa 2

For Arsenal now, it is all about next season, and sadly for them at the Emirates on Sunday, they forgot that this season had not quite finished just yet. Back to back losses and Arsene Wenger’s men are in free-fall. The Gunners seemed not to have the final home game of the season in their minds and failed to turn up for the completely lacklustre 2-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.

Wenger reflects on poor game after a poor start


Darren Bent marked his return to north London with a brace within the first 15 minutes and against a side shorn of confidence, Arsenal were never really able to respond. That crucial factor luck was not to be on Arsenal’s side either with referee Michael Oliver failing to spot a nailed on penalty when Richard Dunne felled Aaron Ramsey, and for reasons better known to himself, the Northumberland official disallowed a perfectly good goal from substitute Marouane Chamakh.


It was a tense atmosphere at the Emirates, with a demonstration prior to kick-off as fans vented their anger at next season’s season ticket price hike. ” Six per cent, your having a laugh,” was a song heard all afternoon and more so when Villa surged ahead. The welcomed return of Thomas Vermaelen was the only bright moment of a dull afternoon. With Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny injured, Sebastien Squillaci was alongside Vermaelen, but on the evidence we have seen this season, he continues to be well out of his depth in the Premiership.


It came as no surprise to see Squillaci replaced at half time. On came Chamakh with Alex Song asked to cover in central defence. Villa’s first goal was poor defending. Kyle Walker’s pass fell to the Bent who had time to chest before volleying past an exposed Wojciech Szczesny. It was to be a Villa warning, that the Gunners did not heed. This time Ashley Young’s pass fell to Bent to side foot past Szczesny to double Villa’s lead.


It was possibly the poorest Arsenal opening of the season, with only half chances falling to Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna to speak off. Villa held back to defend their two goal advantage and Arsenal could not create an opening.Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere looked lively in midfield and it was the latter’s pass to Van Persie that should have seen an Arsenal goal, but having beaten James Collins, the Holland striker saw his shot come back off the upright.


The Gunners had already suffered moments earlier, when Ramsey was brought down by Dunne, and it was possibly the easiest of decisions to give a penalty, but the referee bottled it to Villa’s relief. Boos rang out at half time and that is rare. Arsenal tried to respond early in the second half, but lacked the cutting edge in the final third. Chamakh had livened up proceeding in attack, and he failed to connect onto Walcott’s cross as the Gunners looked livelier.When Van Persie angled for a shot, he decided to try to play in Chamakh when he himself was best placed.


Chances fell to Wilshere and Walcott, and at the other end, Szczesny had to be alert to deny firstly Young and then Stewart Downing.Ramsey went close and when Chamakh headed in from substitute Nickals Bendtner’s cross, the referee again showed poor decision making, by disallowing the goal for what he thought was a push by Chamakh. There was no push.


Kieran Gibbs was denied by Brad Friedel’s point blank save, and when Van Persie finally found the target, it was too little too late. Sort of like Arsenal’s season really. The fans showed their displeasure once again at full time, boos rang out and that is not a good sign for Wenger at the Emirates.