ARSENAL 1 ASTON VILLA 3
So the Premier League is off and running; one down, thirty-seven to go. And what a miserable one it was. Things started so well, with Giroud giving us an early lead, finishing off an excellent move which started deep in our own half by Wilshere playing silly buggers (call me old-fashioned, but the edge of your own area is no place for Cruyff turns). And then the game seemed to turn on one key moment.
Agbonlahor, a player with one of the most irritating names and faces in football, was brought down by Szczesny. If Anthony Taylor had blown his whistle and awarded a penalty there and then I’ have no complaints. But he didn’t; he played advantage. It was a very good one, as Villa had an open goal, however Weimann inexplicably missed. That should have been that and a goal kick to Arsenal, but instead Mr.Taylor decided to award the penalty after all, giving Villa a second bite at the cherry. In the end they scored from the third bite, as Benteke headed home from the re-bound. It was the most ridiculous misuse of the advantage rule.
From there we never really got a hold of ourselves or the game again and our misery was compounded when a second penalty was awarded for what was a great tackle by Koscielny, who moments later was sent off for a second laughable yellow. A third Villa goal was added late on through a counter attack as we went looking for an equaliser from a corner in a far too gung-ho way.
All three substitutes were injury enforced. Our back four finished as Jenkinson, Ramsey, Mertesacker, and Podolski. For the first game of a season that is inexcusable, and whilst the chants of “spend some fucking money” were misplaced in the context of what had cost us during the 90 minutes, they are very valid in the grand scheme of things.
FENERBAHCE 0 ARSENAL 3
We placed one foot into the Champions League group stages on Wednesday evening, with a very good performance against a rather poor Fenerbahce side. The first half was typically Arsenal; lots of possession, but not much cutting edge. Thankfully man of the match Aaron Ramsey stepped up to the plate in the second half. An exquisite through ball in the build-up to our first (scored by Gibbs) and a lovely strike to score our second gave us a real strangle hold on the tie. A third was added from the penalty spot by Giroud.
The job is only half done, with another 90 minutes to follow on Tuesday, but surely not even we can fuck this up? So much so you’d have to ask whether we could rest some players. Our squad is wafer thin, but some options are there. Monreal could come in for Gibbs and the front three of Giroud, Walcott, and Cazorla could be replaced by Sanogo, Gnabry, and Podolski. Some might say it’s a risk, but with a crucial North London derby to follow and a comfortable three away goals lead in the bag I think it’s one worth taking, even with Arsene’s poor gambling record!
But first things first, before we play Fenerbahce on Tuesday or even start to think about next weekend’s North London derby, we must first focus on Fulham. This Saturday’s trip to Craven Cottage won’t be easy and three points really are a must after our disastrous opening day result. It’s very unlikely we’ll have any new faces on board, so we’ll have to make do with what we’ve got. That means our back four starting as it finished on Wednesday, Sagna in the middle and Jenkinson at right back as Koscielny is suspended. It’s far from ideal and as stated before it’s inexcusable so early in the season, but grumbling about it will have little impact come kick-off. All we can do is field the players available to us and look to minimise the damage before signings are made. Who we sign and when we sign them, I have no idea, but the thought of signing nobody seems incomprehensible to me. Until then let’s get behind those we do have because they’re fighting hard for us. Come on you Gunners.