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Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

Villa Park

26/12/08

17:15

On Sky

Aston Villa v. Arsenal

Without a few star players, Arsenal make the trek up north to Birmingham on Boxing Day to take on an upstart, third place Aston Villa. Martin O'Neal's team came to the Emirates in November and easily dispatched a dull and complacent Arsenal side. A similar result and preformance tomorrow will see Arsenal in deep tribulation in terms of 2009 Champions League qualification.

Vital Quotes:

For some strange reason Arsene seems to feel that his club is still in the title race yet third place Villa is not. 'Villa are mathematically in there but if you asked me if they are going to win the title I would say no because they are other teams who to me look better equipped.

'For a place in the top four, they are a threat.

'We are three points behind and have a good opportunity to come back on them. It is a very important game for us.'

Wenger also spoke of Cesc forthcoming injury struggle. "I believe that the really difficult period is the first six weeks," said the manager. "You are in a brace and you cannot move at all. You cannot practice. When they take the brace off you can have rehabilitation and be busy the whole day but the first six weeks are really difficult.

"That is a massive blow for Cesc because he is a competitor who wants to play every day. If you play six games in a week he will want to play six games."

Aston Villa Team News:

Aston Villa's experienced defender and captain, Martin Laursen, has possibly injured his knee again and will have scans to find out the seriousness nature of the injury. He is a major doubt for the game on Boxing Day, and also Carlos Cuellar might not play as he limped off the against West Ham last match. Expect Zac Knight and Nickey Shorey to step in for the Villans.

Player to watch: Ashley Young

The Gooner at heart has been nothing short of spectacular this season for Villa. His dazzling eccentric runs have set the Premier League on fire as he looks to get Villa into the Champions League. Combining crucial goals and breathtaking assists, he has become the complete package in a winger. Look for him and Agbonlahor to trouble the Arsenal defense.

Arsenal Team News:

Arsenal has suffered another devastating injury to a vital member to the team. In our current barren period we have had lengthy spells out from many players. Injuries to Henry, van Persie, Eduardo, Rosicky, Flamini, Sagna, and many more has inhibited Arsenal from being at their best. Next on that verbose list is our new captain Cesc Fabregas. He has been declared out for the rest of the season, and a couple of Arsenal players will have to step up in his absence to insure at least 4th spot.

Compounded to this depressing news is that Adebayor will wrongly be suspended from this must win game. Walcott, Eduardo, and Rosicky are still out.

Possible Starting XI: Almunia(c), Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Nasri, van Persie, Bendtner

Player to watch: Bacary Sagna

All Arsenal defenders are players to watch, but Sagna has the task of marking Ashley Young. Though this may be a dangerous tactic, I believe the best form of defense from your fullbacks will be to attack the wingers, Young and Milner, and make them defend rather than attack. Clichy and Sagna will need to track back fast though to prevent the counter attack goal.

Match Facts & Stats

Home and away

League (inc PL): Villa 59 wins, Arsenal 64, Draws 36

Prem: Villa 6 wins, Arsenal 16, Draws 11

at Villa only

League (inc PL): Villa 38 wins, Arsenal 22, Draws 19

Prem: Villa 3 wins, Arsenal 7, Draws 6

Ref Watch:

Lee Manson will be the head official for the match. He has referred seven matches this season brandishing two reds and twenty yellows. This gives him a 3.14 card per game average.

Match Prediction:

Arsenal will recognize this as a big game and will come to play. I see this being a great Boxing Day affair, but neither team walking away with full points. I will go with 2-2 with van Persie, Bendtner, Agbonlahor, and Davies scoring the goals

Next Fixtures:

28/12 (Sun)- Portsmouth (H)- Premier League

3/1 (Sat)- Plymouth (H)- FA Cup

10/1 (Sat)- Bolton (H)- Premier League

I hope everybody has had a very Merry Christmas!!




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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday December 25 2008

Time: 8:10PM

Your Comments

Posting on xmas day. An excuse to get away from the family for a bit? I know the feeling, i have had to play with a 5 year old for the last 6 hours.
paul_ownz
Ha yes. Though it doesn't feel like Christmas here where I am at. It's 70 degrees and I went out water skiing earlier!
gunnerkid107
Where are you, gunnerked107? In Australia? :)
JT_daniel
villa are not world class, its only going to take sidwell bad backpass and a shorey slip up for us to capitalize on and win the game.
49ers
another slip up for you today I think....Villa will beat you 2 - 1
lincolnblue
49ers, Without Walcott, Eduardo, Rosicky, Fabregas and Adebayor, in case you hadn't noticed, Arsenal aren't 'world class' either. I agree however, that Nicky Shorey is crap at everything football-related. As the article states, we're also missing key players. I think this has draw written all over it, added to the fact that losing isn't an option for either team. Good luck.
Villan-in-Cyprus
I can see us losing this one. But they're without Laursen.. hmm.. a draw maybe. :P
GoonerLou
Does anyonw know what Arsene Wenger is talking about? He says ''Villa are mathematically in there but if you asked me if they are going to win the title I would say no because there are other teams who to me look better equipped.' So he is saying that we won't win the league right? Fair enough. But then goes on to say ''For a place in the top four, they are a threat.' So he is admitting that Villa are a threat to Arsenal's place in the Top4, and could finish above them right? Yet only about 48 hours ago he was still saying that Arsenal are still in the title race??? But yet Villa aren't? Even though we're capable of finishing higher . . . ? Great manager, but talks complete tosh. Contradiction would be an understatement.
Villan-in-Cyprus
One you have to win, can't afford to drop 6 points behind Villa
Tiny T
Not filled with confidence going into this one. Just the thought of Song and Denilson/Diaby being asked to win the midfield battle causes concern. Also without the threat of Ade and creativity of Cesc, I can't see where our goals are going to come from. And I very much doubt we can keep a clean sheet. Back to basics I say and lets just focus on not conceding.
Gooner_Vin
Howdy dudes, match report might be on tonight, more likely tomorrow some time. I'm staying with family in Birmingham (funny that), hope everyone had a top Christmas.
Little Dutch
LD - make sure our fans make a difference today cos we can't afford to lose this one!
Gooner_Vin
Saying a team is in the title race isn't the same as saying they will win it. Wenger didn't say you weren't in the race just that he didn't think you would win it. On the other hand he didn't say we would win it just that we were in the race. There are teams better equipped than Villa to win the title. Those same teams are also better equipped to win it than us too.
Amos.
I don't know who Wenger is trying to convince. Himself or his team. As far as I'n concerned by saying we can still win the title he is effectively lulling the players into a false sense of security. If we play today as we have done in numerous other matches so far by stroking the ball around as if we had a god-forsaken right to walk away with the 3 points then we have already lost. Arrogance will be our downfall. The message he should be communicating to these players is that the odds are massively against us. No-one expects us to win or even get close. How are we going to respond to that? Oh, and by the way, if we don't make the champions league next season we can say goodbye to our latest captain.
Wyn Mills
A draw would would be an excellent result for us, and I'd happily take it.
prits
A draw would be fine but a win would obviously do wonders for confidence. We are capable but we must fight and give 100% in everything we do, not just the playing the beautiful game. Lets hope van Persie can continue his streak.
Gooner_Vin
How did we go from the best midfield in Europe to one that is second best in every game we play?
TPowell
All it takes is for any team to put some crosses in and we're all over the place.
Gooner_Vin
We're gettin` pwned!
ajwb
how lucky are we
TPowell
Now they're pwned! ;D
ajwb
today, not for the season, good finish from Den though. Now Villa knows what its like to be us from last year when we'd go down against a bad team
TPowell
WOW Sagna
TPowell
OMFG..two players injured in the same match :l
ajwb
Thank god Song is off, hoping Ramsey does a bit better with the passing. What a clearance from Sagna!
jubair
Yeah I hope Ramsey impresses in the second half, we are really lacking in that area today...
TPowell
What an truly awful awful half of football, that's some of the most uninspiring sh** I've ever seen. How we are winning god only knows. Arsene Wenger has around four weeks to save our team, we have far too many mediocre players. If Wenger doesn't spend 20-30 million in the transfer window then I'll be convince we don't have two pennies to rub together. It's been a long time since we've needed to buy so many players. We need a winger, defensive midfielder and aerially dominant centre back desperately.
Rocky7
Sagna's clearance was simply WOW! I can't believe how incredibly unlucky we are with injuries and lucky with the match proceedings. Baptism of fire for Aaron!
GoonerLou
typical game of football for us...very poor,getting smashed...but unlike before,we are actually winning,if we take three points i will be amazed....could we hang on? i doubt it...but it would be the best christmas present this year if we do...come on The Arsenal
fran merida
Yeah Rocky I was thinking it can't be yet another long wait for a last-minute signing till the end of the transfer window, but we literally need someone in the team on Jan 1!
GoonerLou
Rocky, I'm glad you feel that way and its not just me. What is going on at our club - does Wenger not work on the defensive side of the game enought? Or is the personnel? Toure looks a shadow of the player he was. Song provides muscle but his passing and interplay isn't great. Nasri isn't doing enough creatively. There's a Flamini/Hleb shaped hole in our team.
Gooner_Vin
No not just you GV - I've never been one of these people who thinks Wenger needs to spend to challenge for honours, but we've got ourseves in a position (through bad luck or management, I dont know which) where we need to buy players, great ones, that won't need more than a few games to bed in. If he can get an average DM for 10M then he may aswell shel out 20M for a world class one, because if we don't get some good players and soon, then we're gunna lose that money by not qualifying for the CL anyway.
Rocky7
have that!!!!!!
fran merida
Hahaha Pwn-tastic!
ajwb
from a champions league football team...who are ya
fran merida
GET IN!! WHAT A GOAL!!! It still doesn't change what I said earlier though!!! BTW "2 shots' we've only had two shot, we've only had two shots"!!!!! LOL
Rocky7
Well this game encapsulates my opinion of the midfield this year. Bags of potential but sooo inconsistent.
TPowell
To be fair to Toure, he's still not fully fit and has only been drafted in because of Djourou's injury. Rambo's looking the part, we need him to rise to the task.
jubair
What the ***** is going on? We were still lucky to be in the game and now Villa are lucky they're not 5-0 down. Whether it was the goal giving us confidence, Song going of injured or the haf time team talk, I don't know, but this is a different team ... ENTIRELY!!!
Rocky7
they're actually giving us room to operate in the midfield now. Never a good idea, we're so easy to knock off the ball with a little pressure.
TPowell
and Gallas lets them back in
TPowell
Why why why Billy...
ajwb
We keep zipping up our flies before we've put our dicks away and wondering why it still hurts, it's ridiculous.
Rocky7
Speak for yourself :-)
ajwb
wow, 3 Arsenal players v. 4 Villans in the box when that cross came in. We are pathetic
TPowell
I've never said this about an Arsenal team before but that is one useless bunch of dysfunctional ********s.
Rocky7
F**king fuming.
Rocky7
Typical, typical, typical...I wish everyone at Arsenal FC will now just stop talking about the title FFS. Arsene has definitely lost the plot.
Gooner_Vin
Predictable result of an incredibly unpredictable game..
GoonerLou
Neither Liverpool, Chelsea or Man U would ever have squandered that lead from being 2-0 up. Teams can just get at us way too easily and Wenger is just being plain disrespectful and arrogant if he thinks we can win anything leaking that many goals and being that easy to create chances against. Why is that we can all see it the plainly obvious but he can't?
Gooner_Vin
dysfunctional to say the least, we need at least three new and talented players within the next two weeks
TPowell
That was *****e.No more high hopes for any of them
ajwb
I entertained hope for a while that we could actually turn them over in the second half. I am disappointed with this team, but no more than I have been over the last 3 months. We are heamorraging points.
Gunnerman
Alongside that, I am *****ed off beyond measure.
Gunnerman
I hope Richard Keyes dies.
Rocky7
We were *****, we know it, but I've never seen anyone, not even Spurs fans, take such glee in our faults. Hairy handed w**ker.
Rocky7
1st rule of defending...stay on your feet in the penalty box 2nd rule of defending...stay on YOUR feet in the penalty box 3rd rule fo defending STAY ON YOUR FEET IN THE PENALTY BOX even my 14 year old nephew knows that when we play pro evo.... but william liabiltiy Gallas doesnt know that
fran merida
I thought Arsene Wenger was talking b*ll*cks in his interview for a minute there, but I soon realised he just really didn't want to talk that C*n* Shreeves. It was quite funny actually.
Rocky7
In a way, its better that this continues because a victory could disguise the problems we have and make Wenger take no action. I felt sorry for Sagna who was brilliant throughout. Ramsey did well too - he works really hard for the team and we may as well just give him his chance now. But our problem areas are so obvious, Sigh.................................!!!!
Gooner_Vin
how many games have we taken the lead only to throw it away again?...ive lost count...our problem is not in attack its in defense...its shocking,if you cant feel confident with a two goal lead then you are in serious trouble......god help us
fran merida
i would like to see villa cope with few injuries...and see that smile wiped of MON face..what a ****
fran merida
**** = C YOU NT
fran merida
or how about this fran, when there are four opponents in your box (as there were for their second goal), you should probably have more than three defenders in there with them.
TPowell
I'm quite happy with the point, actually. We could have lost that game. Our defensive problems stem from mid field - how was that ball allowed to be crossed in the 91 st min without being closed dowb ? (Eboue, I'm looking at you) There was something inevitable about that equaliser, so it comes as no surprise to me that we conceded.
prits
I'm not at all convinced that was a penalty. Looking at it closely Gallas barely makes contact with Anbongoboar. But then again...he's english and William is french.
Wyn Mills
I thought Sylvester and Toure had poor games. Gallas did OK apart from the his really very poor mistake for someone with his experience. Ade would have made a big difference today if not for that f*&jkwit Webb.
Gooner_Vin
Villa crossed countless balls into our area without challenge. The sheer law of averages meant they'd score from one of them. Defensively we are a mess and many teams know it.
Wyn Mills
I'm with you WM!! No Penalty!!! That said the officials can't be blame, it looked nailed and in essence was still a mistake from Billy to be in that position in the first place!
Rocky7
I thought it was a clear penalty, no doubt about it. Gallas clearly catches Agbon's thigh after he hits thin air with his tackle. We shouldnt have any complaints about that one.
prits
BOOOOOOOO! Toure and Silvestre were awful... Terrible in fact. Gallas wasn't that fantastic either but at least he was great in bits. Toure has been a shambles for some time now. Please sell him to Man City and get in a defender who can do his job properly. Also, I would like to congratulate the best right back ever for saving our asses several times. Sagna and Fabregas are too good for Arsenal right now. Please sign some quality Wenger. We will lose them both if you carry on like this. Top four is easily reachable with a new CB, CDM and a winger (possibly another striker if we (hopefully) sell Bendtner). van Persie WILL give us two games in a row sometime!
Tom14
There's nothing clear about it. Football is a contact sport and for it to have been a penalty Gallas' tackle would have had to be strong enough to either take him down or gain an unfair advantage .... it did neither. Once again the world of football has been fooled into thinking something else by excuse made up by the media for diving English players.
Rocky7
what bemused me was that we had the ball it was injury time and instead of playing back to the defence we pushed it forwards conceded possesion and conceded a goal.,..and btw it was definately not a penalty...can you show me any contact....no? coz there wasnt any,but if you go to ground in the box you are asking for it.
fran merida
prits is right, our defenders, keeper, and strikers are the same from last year, the difference is midfield, and quite frankly they blow. Well that's harsh, they have a lot of potential (as shown by the Diaby goal), but they are not good enough yet to play for us.
TPowell
My 1st reaction to watching that Gallas tackle live was - *****, this is a penalty. Replays only confirmed it. I thought there was enough contact to take Agbon down, at that pace. Calling that a dive would not just be harsh, but wrong as well, IMO.
prits
What further clouded it for me was the fact that it was the linesman (not the ref) who flagged for the penalty and his view would surely have been blocked by Gallas? I felt he was reacting to crowd pressure. Looking at the replays again I just can't see where Billy has tripped Anbongobore or caused him to fall over.
Wyn Mills
It was a penalty alright. Poor mistake from Gallas.
Tom14
By the way Fran Merida we also had injuries today, Laursen, Cuellar, and Carew. Even if Arsenal do take 4th off us this season, at least you will have to admitt we have given you a real run for your money!
villapeach
I am seriously ****ed off. 1) Because I had to watch the game with my Dad who pretty much moaned for the entire 90mins and 2) How we can be 2-0 up and look comfortable and then only manage a draw? The first 30 mins were dreadful and we probably should have been 4-0 down on another day It seems for this team to win a game, we need to score three goals because our defense is crap. I now do believe that they clearly don't seem to work on defending in training as an 8 year old Sunday morning football team could do better defensively.
itsup4grabsnow
It's rare to watch us play with such a feeling of jealousy. Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, Agbonlahor, Luke Young, Friedel, Davies, Martin O'Neill - at various times I wished they were all on our side today. Villa countered like us 2-3 years ago. They were great to watch. I half remember some AW taunt at Fergie about everyone thinking they have the prettiest wife at home. I think this can now be applied to him and his inadequate players - either too young and lightweight or too old and slow.
th41
I knew as i froze my ass in the stadium that a win was too good to be true. Its frustrating that mistakes keep costing us games. No need for the Gallas tackle. We almost did a smash and grab which would of put us in a good position and a blow to villa. As it is we look so afraid to play, always likely to conceed, and barely a top 7 side let alone top 4. Players need to be bought or else we could be in big trouble
paul_ownz
Fran, you're a****
Villan-in-Cyprus
I'm still with you Mills - I've seen the replays lots of times and the angle from behind the goals shows me that there wasn't enough contact!
Rocky7
So, every neutral analyst in all media think it was a penalty, but a few sad deluded Gunners think it wasn't? Who could be right? Those of you big enough to stand up and admit your failings I salute you - true fans. Thanks th41, you're a gentleman. Some of you others have been listening to Whinger too much and it's rubbing off on you.
HeathfieldRoad1874
More than the question of whether it was a penalty or not, it was a needless challenge. He would of had a lot to do from there to score so the blame if any should be with Gallas. If im honest i think there was contact, i also think he could of stayed up if he wanted to. The fact is he made no contact with the ball and some contact with the man leaving the ref an easy decision
paul_ownz
Paul - If he could have stayed up if he wanted to then it isn't a penalty. Plain and simple. But you're right, Gallas made a stupid decision and TBH is real time it looked like a stick on penalty.
Rocky7
Look at the replay of the penalty decision http://www.vidgoal.tk/ Can anyone honestly say that is a nailed on penalty? Frankly if I saw an Arsenal player collapse like that I'd be embarrassed. Also Anbongobore veers into and obstructs Gallas in the lead-up, which is why there is contact in the first place. But hey, we all know our english players don't dive, don't we?
Wyn Mills
What was the little managerial incident all about?Gotta say,love MON's passion,and Wenger should head to spec savers and trade in the rose tinted spectacles,shoula won by 5?!!Did he forget what team he manages??
CoxintheBox
 

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