Spurs fans tweets backfire as Arsenal hit top form, writes Bernard Azulay.
With our goals against Villa shared out amongst five different scorers, the Arsenal Twitterati were retweeting, with sarcastic relish, the fateful words of a Spurs fan before yesterday’s game: “Hoping Alexis isn’t fit today so we can finally see just how big a one-man team Arsenal are!”
Still, I hope Alexis’ withdrawal was merely precautionary, as I’ve been teasing my Tottenham pals for weeks that our Chilean dynamo will be leaving their team for dead at White Hart Lane next Saturday.
What’s more, it was evident against Villa quite how much we missed the increased tempo afforded by Sanchez’s forward impetus. At times, the Gunners were guilty of taking our foot off the gas, after carving Villa apart only eight minutes in.
I’d spent the morning engrossed in coverage of the tennis and was at least grateful that Andy Murray’s customary mental collapse came in the fourth set. I’d have been even madder if I’d been distracted by events in Melbourne any longer and risked being late for kick-off.
I’d never have forgiven Murray if his lost cause had been responsible for me missing Mesut Ozil’s positively disdainful back-heel assist for Giroud’s opener.
Lighting up the stadium with this one sublime touch, Ozil reminded everyone present why we paid €56 million for this privilege.
Yet truth be told, Villa were a beaten side before they stepped onto the pitch and a more merciless Arsenal would’ve motored on to achieve the sort of embarrassing cricket score that might’ve resulted in us leapfrogging Southampton.
The vast majority of Premier League sides would doubtless have punished us for failing to press home our advantage in the subsequent 50 minutes. I’m guessing that Villa, bizarrely, probably dominated possession prior to the goalfest that began when Ozil eventually scored our second.
Where there was a mature caution to the way in which we sat back at West Ham and City and allowed the opposition to retain the ball in harmless areas of the pitch, there was an element of contempt in inviting Villa to do their worst on our home turf. With only a slender single goal lead, we seemed to be tempting a sucker punch. But there appears to be something rotten at Villa Park. Compared to the spirit witnessed from the likes of Leicester and Burnley, Villa — and QPR — look far more likely relegation fodder.
Villa’s Sanchez did impress as the sort of muscular midfield specimen likely to flourish in the Premiership. Yet others like Benteke, Delph and Vlaar seem to have had their ability snuffed out by the rudderless malaise afflicting their club. Even their steely Scots manager seems to have been transformed into a world-weary gaffer, marking time until he’s eventually presented with his P45.
The 5-0 scoreline might be indicative of the gulf betweenthe two teams but it was flattering for Villa as we were barely taxed in achieving it. Nevertheless, with a third successive clean sheet and the much-needed confidence boost of goals for Ozil, Walcott and Bellerin; this was just the sort of result required to build on our momentum in advance of a north London derby we badly need to win.
Parked on the bench, Gabriel Paulista, our new centre-half must’ve thought the Premier League is a piece of cake. Here’s hoping we can achieve a similar triumph next Saturday.
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