Match Day: Arsenal vs. Aston Villa

There’s been a lot of angst about the goals shipped in Villa’s last two, and with Southampton, I maintain it’s rather hard on the team to draw too many conclusions from a dead-ball masterclass from Ward-Prowse. Yes, reckless fouls on our part, and down to being second best in the early going. But ordinarily you just wouldn’t be punished so ruthlessly. Down three at the half, Villa would be forgiven for not quite believing they were three goals worse.

Today, though, it’s Arsenal, and they’ve had a couple decent results. But until Arteta & Co can show us this is a new era, we can be forgiven for expecting their up-and-down ways to continue. Doesn’t mean we come away with a victory today, of course. But this isn’t necessarily a team to fear any more than Southampton or Leeds, in the end. And we like being underdogs.

Arsenal 3-2 Aston Villa: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Bottom line: I’m not a happy clapper. You’ve seen me criticize plenty. And I don’t want to exonerate Smith if he doesn’t deserve it. This week, like last, I’m pointing my finger straight at the players for shrinking and somewhat losing their heads. I like that they keep trying to attack. That’s what we wanted, attacking football, and that’s what we’ve got—a side built to attack. But you can be smarter about it. And you can’t sink back.