Arsenal cruised to a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Emirates stadium in a game that Villa fans were left very disappointed. We are under no illusions of where we are as a football club but we expect 100% from the players and not for the first time this season, it wasn’t what we got.

Despite throwing a 2-0 lead a week before to Wolves, Dean Smith opted for the same side and system when they faced Arsenal on Friday night.

Arsenal were out of the traps very quick as Villa must have wondered what had hit them and the home side took a deserved lead midway through the first half.

Emile Smith-Rowe, who was linked with a move to Villa in the summer, whipped over a corner that was met by Thomas Partey to give the Gunners the lead.

Mikel Arteta’s men then doubled from the penalty spot right on half time. The referee appeared to blow his whistle for half time but VAR pulled it back for a penalty. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s effort was saved by Emi Martinez but the Argentine couldn’t stop the rebound.

Smith changed the system at half-time by introducing Leon Bailey for Axel Tuanzebe as Villa went into a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ollie Watkins moving out wide.

Villa looked better but was soon put in their place when Arsenal hit Villa on the counter to put the game to bed.

Smith-Rowe won the ball throw a poor pass by John McGinn and carried the ball on the counter before shooting at goal. His effort took a reflection off Tyrone Mings to make it 3-0.

Substitute Jacob Ramsey pulled one back for Villa 8 minutes from time through a sublime strike but it wasn’t to be enough as more pressure was placed on the manager following the third defeat in a row.

Dean Smith is under pressure

The Bad

  • A lot was made about our formation following the Wolves defeat and nothing on show in the first half against Arsenal will change those doubters. I do agree when Smith said there is nothing wrong with the system because there isn’t. The problem is we don’t have players to play that system. The back three are all used to playing in a back two and look all over the place while our wing-backs are full-backs. There was a reason we looked more comfortable when we moved to a back four in the second half.
  • Our midfield is not strong enough to enable a front two and neither do the front two look close to building a partnership. I worried when we signed Ings and despite how good he is as a player, I believe he has created more problems for Smith than solutions. The sign of a top manager is making tough decisions and one of those will have to be leaving either Watkins or Ings on the bench.
  • Desire and effort. Those two words are all that a football fan asks of their players. Supporters can accept when they lose to a better side. What they can’t accept is a team that doesn’t look interested. We can point to the formation all we want but the manager and fans were also let down by the players on Friday night and not for the first time this season.
  • Pressure on Dean Smith. When a club is looking to progress, defeats will always mean that the manager will be put under pressure. There is no doubt that the majority of Villa fans want Smith to be with us for a long time and be successful. There is no doubt that he has done a very good job to date. The problem is we cant keep expecting to progress and going through spells like we are currently in. I fear for Smith’s future if we see a repeat of the Arsenal performance when West Ham come to Villa Park next Sunday.

The Good

  • There weren’t many highlights from Friday but (and not for the first time this season) I will highlight Douglas Luiz. Despite how poor and lost those around him looked, he never gave up and appears to be really maturing into the player we all hoped he would become.

Next Match

Aston Villa v West Ham United

Sunday, 31st October. Kick-Off: 16.30

Villa will need to put an end to their recent poor performances against a very good, well organised West Ham side. The home faithful could turn unless they see an upturn on the pitch.

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