A spirited Aston Villa came away from North London with no points following a late comeback from Arsenal.
Despite leading twice, numerous mistakes cost Villa picking up what would’ve been welcome and needed points.
A full review of the game will come in due course but for now it’s hard to not focus on the negatives as opposed to the positives such as the attacking style implemented particularly in the first half and the continued efforts and performances of the likes of John McGinn.
Firstly, I am by no means the type of fan that calls for a manager’s head so quickly as remarkably it’s started on the doom plains of social media as is the constant trend in modern day football but Villa simply need to learn from their mistakes and decisions quickly.
Granted it’s still early in the season but similar mistakes are costing Villa points already.
To begin with, taking chances is clearly an issue. Villa created 14 chances today, 9 of which were on target. However, the amount of times a shot was rushed or hit from unusual positions when better options were available has not just been limited to today.
Trying to play out from the back, another modern day trait it appears, has cost us again.
Particularly when under pressure, the decision to try and run the ball in and around our own box has led to conceding goals such as those against Spurs in the season opener or fouls that have led to clear opportunities for opposition teams to gain a set piece in a goalscoring position.
Linking into the previous point is the philosophy of sitting deep when under pressure. Tom Heaton could be heard several times today shouting the same instruction to his teammates but the call wasn’t heard or ignored and its happened a few times this season, inviting danger.
Opportunities were there to clear the ball and push out but again, Villa would either try and run it out or pass it around the edge of their own box.
Recognising and utilising successes are a key area for Villa to learn and implement to gain more points.
Today, similar to West Ham at the start of the week, early, pacy crosses caused trouble but then rather than continue to exploit it, the tactic almost seemed to dissapate soon after. When playing 4-5-1 it is also an important tactic to use.
As I said earlier, I’m a huge Dean Smith fan but before too long he and the players will have to be accountable for their actions and cut out familiar mistakes.
When Arsenal cranked up the pressure, Marvelous Nakamba was getting overrun. His stats up until the first Arsenal goal were impressive to say the least with high pass success and tackles and blocks that broke up ventures forward from Unai Emery’s men.
It’s been debated a lot throughout the last few weeks, the idea of Douglas Luiz, Nakamba or others playing as a two to protect the back four when needed and it should provide players such as Jack Grealish to get forward more to support Wesley.
Wesley for the mistakes he can make himself, is often isolated when Villa sit back and no one is far enough forward to play off him or offer consistent support.
Substitutions again could’ve been made earlier to provide defensive coverage too.
Up until the last 20 minutes, Villa weren’t afraid to take the game to Arsenal but whether it be legs or confidence, they need to take leadership of the situation and maintain efforts for 90 minutes.
Arsenal undoubtedly have some world class players such as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe but sitting back and not taking chances/making poor decisions is only going to build the pressure up in regards to points needed for safety. The ultimate target this season.
Understandably, it is said by many that the games that will define our season will be those against the sides in and around us, but when given opportunities like today, we have to be seizing the moment.
Fortunately, a couple of wins at the current stage means a fair jump up the table but lessons need to be learned quickly now the step up in class and division has been made.
We go again this week with Brighton in thr Carabao Cup on Wednesday night and then Burnley at home. Two opportunities to build the good feeling again.