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ARS vs Villa Is A Must-Win For….?



A win in midweek may have taken away some of the gloom, but the debacle at Watford still casts a shadow of doubt over this Arsenal team and coach. Will we get the shape right? Can we defend properly and not concede 20+ shots? Can we create chances of our own?

As we return to the bread and butter, meat and drink, blood and thunder of the League of good ol’ honest lads, here’s to hoping we won’t make Aston Villa look like Aston Martin.

“Hope?” I hear you say. “From the person who asked everyone to abandon all of it?” I suppose like any fan, I am not completely immune to the effects of a 3-0 win, no matter how it was achieved. We were somewhat lucky with Frankfurt wasteful in taking their many chances. They were undone by a deflected shot, a red card, and Bukayo Saka, one of many players who had a good game, even if the team did not. That is an all too common phenomenon at Emery’s Arsenal.

I don’t know much about Villa. I don’t have access to Emery’s USBs. All I know is they have a celebrated honest lad who’s most memorable moment is being punched by a fan and John Terry. That is enough to make me dislike the Villans. Looking at their shots total, they’ve taken 55 shots and scored 4 goals in the league. They did however batter the minnows of Crewe Alexandra 6-1 in the league cup. Hopefully we can put these bullies in their place and Diaby-kick them in their oversized heads.

Efficiency or Poverty

Arsenal have scored double the number of league goals at 8, on just 10 shots more than them. Some see efficiency, others see offensive poverty as even Burnley have outshot us by 3.

Still, if Emery is to be believed Ozil will play in this game. That should help us create more chances and hopefully the team will carry the confidence from the Europa League into this game. It would also be nice to see some of the youngsters get their chance to show their skills in the league too, but that might be a step too far for Emery, especially an Emery under pressure (bass line plays in background). Of course we hope he can stay as cool as ice, baby, and make the right decisions.

Failure is not an option

If Arsenal fail to beat Villa, calls for Emery’s dismissal will come back, and louder. The speed at which fan opinion has turned against Emery surprised me even. Up to recently I felt lonely swimming against the pro-Emery tide, a position I came to late last season. I’m sure it surprised Emery too and it must be at the back of his mind. Late last week, Vinai Vekatesham gave him the dreaded executive vote of confidence. For Emery the stakes in today’s game couldn’t be higher.

Villa will have had a few days extra preparation and will look to capitalize on any weakness. Including that of the referee, who as we know, are reluctant to punish honest English lads. We’ve got to be prepared.


Bellerin and Tierney played for the U23s. It’ll likely be too early to pick them, especially seeing how carefully we’ve managed Holding, who made the travelling squad to Germany but didn’t play. Maybe this will be his comeback game. Ceballos started on the bench, as did Pepe and AMN, while Sokratis and Ozil were rested. I expect all of them to start.

Starters: Leno, AMN, Sokratis, Holding, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ceballos, Ozil, Pepe, Nelson, Aubameyang.

Subs: Martinez, Luiz, Chambers, Torreira, Willock, Saka, Martinelli

Final score: I leave it to you dear reader. Share your predictions in the Comments section.


  1. Imagine worrying about playing Villa at our home? This is what it’s come to.

  2. Playing at home against AV should be a relatively safe bet. I see/hope for a 3-1 win for us.

  3. To be honest, while I expect a win at home, its not guaranteed. Generally speaking our performance at Home is better than Away and should be sufficient to take us over the line.

  4. Many thanks to Shard for the preview. I also expect a win, but also can imagine a draw or loss, such is the Emery Empire. Bah!
    So will be clinging to hope even if it makes me a bit deluded ( i am)!
    Thanks again. And hope we all enjoy the game.

  5. Shard poses the critical issue which many want to avoid: “If Arsenal fail to beat Villa, calls for Emery’s dismissal will come back, and louder.” Agree or Disagree?

  6. Dedicated to Finsbury: This is is specially for you. Am sure you are loving how Pellegrini has organized West Ham to play football, something you and I have discussed on this board. They are now a front-footed team who always looking to break down the opposition; none of the cowardice and fear of the opposition from the incumbent at Arsenal. Even Mark Noble is looking like a quality player as he set up their goal. Need to remind people that Pelligrini won two titles at City using ex-Arsenal players like Kolo Toure, Clichy and Sagna who the usual ignorant suspects mostly disrespected. Don Raul has no fucking idea what is good for Arsenal.

    • Shotta MP’s record in the sport leaves no doubt he is a great manager. And was perfectly suited to take over that Arsenal squad last year.

      Right now if someone told me Brendan Rodgers would be in charge of the squad next week I’d take that!

  7. Can you imagine Jack Wilshere dribbling at the heart of the United defense while playing for Emery, a manager who is allergic to midfield?

  8. No ozil. As i thought. Atleast its not 3 at the back

  9. All you confident people, what do you think now. I should have stuck to my own advice of abandoning hope.

    • Hope this helps you to stick to your convictions especially when they are fact based.

      • Yes, I should have, Even though we won, that was a terrible team performance. Great team spirit though and that just shows how good this team can be if removed from the tactical shackles put on them by Emery.

  10. Hope saw us through Shard! Only joking mate. Terrible first half, and a poor second half until late on. Not convincing, but we did it. Phew!

    • Haha! Touche.

      But it wasn’t hope. It was only when there was no hope that the players (and maybe Emery?) shunned all the ‘tactics’ nonsense and just went with their natural ability and instincts. That and our much superior quality finally made the difference.

      Emery benching Ozil after saying he was rested in Europe for this game, is not only a nonsense decision which contributes to us being ultra conservative (not defensive) and also shows his words can’t be trusted.

      • mmm, one to think on. Intention drives all things for good or bad. To me hope is a drive. If there was no hope, then would they then start using hope? Is hope different for us, than for the players?
        Often they must have to know, while we can hope. Its interesting as hope is the will to a positive outcome, like a shelter force of no guarantee. Its odd then how hope, being realistic, being pessimistic and being positive, in many ways doesnt add up to much when peer into the future? Are they just devices?
        Can we bend the universe to do what we want? I dont mean metaphysics, more pushing the intent of things, isnt that what the fans do, when it go hot tonight, our fans lifted the team, of course the team lifted the fans, but the fans wer willing the team into winning.

        Is hope purely positive? No, we can see we can hope other teams lose. My worry is to lose hope what happens then? Not sure I want to go to that place until the time comes!
        The oddest thing is how we invest our emotions into a vessel like Arsenal, its worse than having your emotion determined by other seemingly extraneous phenomena, as its something that can be avoided. Problem is we can hope and when we dont get the payment we wish it feels pretty rum.

        Anyway, only mucking around. I been feeling pretty much the same as you.But with Ö, its just nuts and really disgusting to me. This victory has only papered over the cracks, and the emotional investment into the league cup is generally less by the fan base, but if Emery does play him in that game, then to me its an insult, to player and club and to us. As it is to me when he doesnt play him.

        • Hopes such a weird thing the more you think about it, seems positive but can be negative. The point you made Shard about hope running out and then something else can step in is really interesting. We can hope and hope and try to bend the universe to our will, but sometimes we see that it doesnt work, so we get off the gas a bit, but does that mean hope has gone? To me not, but that doesnt mean that it hasnt, at this moment I feel its more a lesser force, while an understanding of the situation from another angle takes control ( perhaps direct action as you say, or another psychological trait?) but I not sure hope goes out of the window?
          Does hope even exist? Maybe its an umbrella term that covers a heap of ideas and thought patterns?Laziness doesnt exist for example, its just a daft term for psychological hindrances, neither does luck ( anyone remember me getting on everyone’s nerves at PA over that-lol?

  11. Two wins for Arsenal in 4 days and while am happy with the result I have that very familiar feeling; we are far from playing well and it is the quality of our players that is making the difference. Experience tells us to be happy but wary as poor coaching will inevitably catch up with us.

  12. Emery looked a worried man on the bench. Not his usual worried, but almost smaller somehow. I got the feeling he knows he’s in big trouble. The result shouldn’t sway the decision, but I would assume he’s gotten a stay of execution. I wonder how he approaches the next game. He never seems to learn the lessons, so I go again with my season’s motto.

  13. I’m just glad I don’t write the review here. How do you reconcile that it was a great comeback win with just how horrible a performance it was? The only explanation I have is that Emery bends space time. He creates black holes in the middle of the field, sucking all the joy from the game. But then we have some stray shooting stars who don’t get caught up in that net, and they produce moments that give everyone the materials to sustain life. Including Emery’s, irony of ironies.


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