Aston Villa Football Club festered at the foot of the table going into week sixteen’s round of games as Bournemouth took on Manchester United, Sunderland took on Watford and Newcastle United took on Tottenham Hotspur while the Villans faced Arsenal at Villa Park.
Saturday brought mixed results for those of a claret and blue persuasion before Garde’s side had even kicked a ball at the weekend: the Black Cats were stung by the Hornets at home while the Cherries earned their second big scalp in a week as they were victorious against the Red Devils.
Nothing that happened at the weekend would have made any difference to the Villa boys’ league position. Playing Arsenal was always going to be a free hit for the Villans: potentially grabbing a point or even three in a game they on paper stood no real chance of taking anything from would have been a nice Christmas bonus.
Newcastle’s victory against Spurs in the game’s dying embers made the Villans’ performance against Wenger’s title chasers even worse, essentially hammering another nail into Aston Villa’s coffin and plotting the club’s route to the Championship.
Aston Villa’s performance on Sunday against Arsenal was a shambolic showing of everything currently wrong with, and at, the club. The performance was woeful: the line-up was wrong and the apparent lack of desire from the players left fans worrying.
You can draw parallels between the lack of desire and the performance. The creativity has been missing for some time. Despite this, the hosts started the stronger of the two sides but any optimism was short-lived due to another defensive howler from Alan Hutton as he clumsily bundled down Theo Walcott in the penalty area. Suddenly, the Villans early confidence evaporated.
From that moment onwards it was one-way traffic. The home side parked the bus whenever the visitors came near and although statistics show that the home team created more chances and had more shots the efforts were all speculative, with many failing to get past an Arsenal defender let alone test Petr Cech.
Garde set up his side in more or less the same as he did against Southampton at St Mary’s but surely that was the wrong decision given that Arsenal had played in the Champions League mid-week. It was clear from the early stages that the Gunners’ defence could have been at sea if the hosts had used the right players in the likes of Jack Grealish and Adama Traoré.
Rudy Gestede looked hopeless up front with neither Jordan Ayew or Scott Sinclair feeding him with balls in the air. It is quite clear that Rudy Gestede, with his lazy runs, is not up to the job he is tasked with at present. Many people predicted in July that the Benin international is not cut out for the Premier League and would flop at Aston Villa just as he did at Cardiff City.
Libor Kozák is scoring for fun for the Under-21s so why wasn’t he called upon?
Meanwhile, on the wings, Scott Sinclair toyed with Arsenal but never troubled them while Carles Gil, Adama Traoré and Jack Grealish sat on the bench, presumably wondering why they were not on the pitch. Traoré came on for the final three minutes and looked like he could have caused some havoc if he had been given more time.
The midfield was troubled with Veretout struggling just like Carlos Sánchez and Idrissa Gueye. It is clear that the crisis of confidence is having a major impact on the Villans’ performance levels.
Defensively, Remi Garde had tough decisions to make, with Richards, Clark, and Amavi all out. The defence had a tough time with Sánchezfailing to cover the back line, leaving Lescott and Okore exposed far too often. Furthermore, Arsenal’s second goal it could have been prevented if Lescott had applied pressure on the ball and the team had not moved back half heartedly.
The lack of heart and desire was worrying and shameful. It was like the players thought it was a friendly given the way they toddled around the pitch.
The second half was an improvement but none of the players on the pitch yesterday seemed particularly interested in putting in a decent shift for Aston Villa.
The state of Aston Villa Football Club is something Randy Lerner should be ashamed of. The club is in a state of disrepair and the players do not care. The second goal was a clear indicator of how little they seem to care that Villa will be bottom on Christmas Day.
The players should be ashamed of themselves. The club is heading for relegation and they are not putting up anything remotely resembling a fight. Garde needs to remind them what it means to play for Aston Villa
Only three points will do at St. James’ Park next weekend but that will be a tough ask against a Newcastle side that has won two on the bounce, against sides in good form, for the first time this season.