In case you were wondering what had gone wrong at Villa Park, Aston Villa delivered a message in their well-deserved 0-3 smashing of Arsenal at The Emirates: We’re alright, thank you very much. With Ross Barkley and John McGinn back on song, Villa sent opposition fans into meltdown, and moved back up to sixth. Not bad for a Sunday night.
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.
Turns out 5-0-0 wasn’t meant to be. Shame, that. And even more so since the inevitable first defeat was a bit resounding. Bielsa won the first PL round with Smith, and Leeds ran away clear and deserved winners. However, it wasn’t as inevitable on the night as it turned out looking.
Tough, quality win at Leicester Sunday followed by a completely different test against Leeds tonight. Adding a bit of froth is the recent history between the two sides and the way the press has handled Marcelo Bielsa compared with Dean Smith.
It’s hard to overstate what an important victory this was. No, we didn’t win anything, and no it won’t continue like this. But to come off the high of dismantling Liverpool, go away for two weeks, and return to grind out a win on the road against an undermanned but still highly capable and well-drilled Leicester squad shows a different mentality in the team. It’s not a game we’d have won last season. Neither was Liverpool, for that matter, but who’s counting?