Arsenal visited relegation battered Aston Villa coming off of two incredible results. It didn’t go well. Here are the player ratings.
Arsenal looked like the underdogs of the century for two consecutive matches against Manchester City and against Liverpool, outscoring the last two Premier League champions 4-1 on aggregate.
The Gunners looked damn good, and with a berth in the FA Cup finals against Chelsea coming up, the last two matches of the Premier League season look like walkovers—Watford and Aston Villa, with Villa up first.
Of course, nothing is ever easy when relegation is involved, and with Villa fighting to save themselves, the fight was always going to be tough. Especially with Watford getting slaughtered against City. A win and Villa would be out of the bottom three. Arsenal would have to surrender the role of underdog to Villa and learn how to make the most of possession.
Mikel Arteta made the changes you might have expected, rotating to a much different team than that which faced City. It looked more like the team that beat Liverpool, which is never a bad thing.
Eddie Nketiah came back, most notably, and Arteta wasted no time getting him into the starting XI, albeit as a right-winger opposite Aubameyang, who’s fight for the golden boot clearly earned him a continued place.
The midfield also saw a shift, with Granit Xhaka getting an overdue rest in favor of Lucas Torreira.
The match started pretty tamely, with each team trading relatively mild blows. Arsenal began to take control of the match around the quarter-hour mark, peppering Villa’s defense. Yet it was Villa who struck first just after the first water break. Somehow Trezeguet was left completely unmarked and a perfect strike beat everyone. Honestly, it’s hard to even blame anyone for the goal. It was a great strike after a fortuitous bounce.
But it changed the match. Villa took over as the clear favorites, never giving the Arsenal defense a moment’s rest. The Gunners would have been grateful for half time. Though Villa picked up right where they left off, stuffing their visitors back into their own half before they were finally able to punch out and mount some kind of attacking threat.
No matter what the Gunners tried, though, they couldn’t break through for that elusive goal and ended up falling in disappointing fashion, 1-0. That’s what happens when you don’t get a single shot on target.
Here are the player ratings:
Did what he could. Not sure what to say beyond that. A couple of good saves, left helpless on the goal.