Football

Aston Villa must kick on after Arsenal win

Agbonlahor has a few critics to silence (©GettyImages)
Agbonlahor has a few critics to silence (©GettyImages).

Like a phoenix from the ashes, has Aston Villa risen back to the top of the English game?

It's too early too tell, one game does not make a season. However, a 3-1 win over a Champions League side is a good stepping stone to start the season on.

Many an Arsenal fan may say Anthony Taylor was Villa's best player on that faithful Saturday while some may agree the referee was a bit harsh on the north Londoners. Either way, the game showed a lot about both sides.

From the first minute it appeared as though Arsenal had come to play. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's pace turned a poor Ron Vlaar tackle into the opening goal of the match.

Yet as the Villains showed at the end of last season, you can get them down, but they won't stay down.

It took Gabby Agbonlahor some time last season to really come into his own. Sporting a more bulked up body mass, while keeping his blistering pace, the young England forward showed his potential.

His storming run, cheeky nutmeg, and composure to knock the ball past the keeper led to Villa's first penalty.

Up step the hero of the claret and blue. You'd have thought Christian Benteke had missed for fun, the way he calmly headed the rebound into the back of the net. And it was all Villa after that.

Nathan Baker and Theo Walcott collided knees early on in the contest, and Baker was subbed off.

Up step Villa's missing defender Ciaran Clark. Clark and Vlaar showed a rock solid partnership in the heart of defence, Clark's chest being the only thing standing between Olivier Giroud and his second goal of the day.

The defence did have a hiccup here and there, gifting Tomas Rosicky a few chances, which he squandered. Overall, a much improved effort.

Lambert's new recruit Antonio Luna was a revelation at the back.

Replacing the young and inexperienced Joe Bennett, Luna showed his defensive and offensive chops.

His opposite number Walcott was virtually nonexistent in the game. Walcott's pace was a terror to left backs last season, his pre-season performance at Manchester City made former team-mate Gael Clichy look like a League 2 defender.

But Luna took him out of the game, pushing forward and forcing the pacy winger to drop back and help out with Arsenals rag tag injured defence. Taking the oppositions best player out of the game wasn't enough for Luna though, storming forward late in the game and slotting home a beautiful dagger, opening his account and putting an end to any hope of an Arsenal come back. 

The Villa midfield looked hungry, showing an energy the Arsenal side seemed to lack. Westwood never gave Wilshere any space to work, he kept tight and fouled when he needed to.

It broke up the momentum of the Arsenal team, stopping their beautiful passing game and allowing Villa to work off the counter.

Counter attack football was where Villa shined on Saturday. With the pace of Agbonlahor winning both penalties for Villa.

The second penalty was soft, but it was pace again that got him on the wrong side of French defender Laurent Koscielny. Having to slide in from the back, the Frenchman won a little of the ball and a little of the man.

It was a desperate challenge, and anytime you slide in from behind the ref is going to have to make a call. It may have been harsh, but that's football, sometimes you get lady luck on your side and sometimes you do not.

Lady luck was not with Koscielny at the Emirates. Following the harsh yellow he received during the penalty he received another for a challenge on Weimann.

Another harsh card, on a night of many, and a wrongful sending off. Perhaps it was the frustration and tempers of both fans and players which got to the ref or a belated regret that he hadn't sent of Wojciech Szczesny in the first half.

Regardless of the reason it wasn't Taylor's night, and it did add a bad taste to a match which was exciting to say the least.

Lambert's young lions looked hungry for the whole ninety minutes. Their passion and energy showed the team is eager to keep their heads above water and avoid the relegation battle this year.

Agbonlahor was Villa's man of the match, winning both penalties and being a menace to the Arsenal back four. Paul Lambert refereed to his pacy winger as "Unplayable", and on the night he was right.

The team is boasting a nice confidence boost going into Wednesday game against Chelsea, hoping to emulate their performance and ruin Jose Mourinho's return to English soccer.

Adding a lot of depth in the off-season and sorting out their defensive problems, the Villains look set for an exciting season. They are a deep young team looking to impress, they have a chip on their shoulders from last season and look keen to put a boot in the mouth of their critics.

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Topics:
Premier League
Football
Gabriel Agbonlahor
Aston Villa
Christian Benteke

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