Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Wednesday March 14 2007
14th March 2007
Arsenal travel to Villa Park on Wednesday as they look to make amends for the events of the last 2 weeks.
It all started so promisngly,Walcott popped up with his first Arsenal goal in a cup final, Arsenal's youngsters dominated Chelsea's millions, Diaby made Ballack look Bol***ks and Denilson looked the nuts! The events following Walcott's goal in the Carling Cup final would set a precident for the two weeks that would follow. A poor decision by the officials allowed Drogba to score an equalizer. A piece of amature defending would allow the lethal Ivorian to score a late winner.
In another cup game, another piece of amature defending, Senderos again the guilty party, would see another late goal scored against Arsenal, sending the Gunners crashing out.
Possibly 2 of my worst weeks as an Arsenal fan ended with a 1-1 draw with PSV that put an end to Arsenal's hunt for silverware in their debut season at Ashburton Grove.
It's not going to be easy but I'm sure Wenger has spent the last week plotting and planning ahead of this game. He isn't the only who has had some time to plan for this game, Villa have had some 3 weeks without any football so Arsenal can expect to face an energetic opponent.
Arsene Wenger tried to explain why Arsenal have suffered so much in recent weeks. le Boss put it down to the fact that Arsenal played 17 games in 8 weeks: 'I believe that we have never produced so many consistent performances over a season. But in the end I feel it is difficult to take because we have played 17 games over December and January. It caught up with us a bit physically in February - especially the two FA Cup replays.'
Martin O'Neil is no fool, we all know that, but he has shown why with this quote. The same journalists that were saying how bright Arsenal's future is only 2 weeks ago are now writing about doom and gloom for the gunners. O'neil has more sense than that, as this quote proves: 'Despite being without Thierry Henry and a couple of others, Arsenal showed on their Carling Cup run that they have good young players.
'I felt they may not have had the strength in depth of the other three. But they have changed my mind.'
Martin Laursen is likely to be the only player missing for Aston villa, he suffered an ankle injury.
Luke Moore is set to return after playing 4 reserve games as he recovers from injury.
The powerful striker has torn Arsenal apart in previous meetings. He is sure to fancy himself for this match and Gallas will have to make sure his young defence can handle him.
The good news is that Tomas Rosicky returns from injury, along with Justin Hoyte and Mathieu Flamini. The bad news is that the list of absent players is again growing.
Henry, Van Persie and Alex Hleb are injured while Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Manu Eboue and Manu Adebayor are all suspended.
This is the kind of game I really expect Tommy to do well in. Villa will look to close Arsenal down, probably with a bank of 4 and a bank of 5. They wont do it the way Bolton or Blackburn do, it's just not Villa. It's the kind of game you expect a 30-yard goal of the month to be scored in, something Rosicky is pretty good at!
Martin Atkinson will be the man in black on Wednesday. He has taken charge of 17 games this season, dishing out 3 red cards and 54 yellows, an average of 3.35 per game.
A heart breaking 1-0 defeat for Arsenal. A combination of an injury-hit Arsenal squad and a fresh Villa team will be too much for Arsenal. Carew to score late on. :(
Date:Wednesday March 14 2007
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