Aston Villa vs. Arsenal: Hard-Fought Draw as It Happened
Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny; Carl Jenkinson, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs; Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arshavin 77'), Lukas Podolski (Gervinho 70'), Olivier Giroud (Coquelin 86')
Subs: Vito Mannone, Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin, Andrey Arshavin, Gervinho
Aston Villa: Brad Guzan; Matthew Lowton, Ron Vlaar (Lichaj 51'), Ciaran Clark, Enda Stevens; Karim El Ahmadi (Holman 63'), Ashley Westwood, Barry Bannan, Andreas Weimann (Albrighton 90'); Gabriel Agbonlahor, Christian Banteke
Subs: Shay Given, Stephen Ireland, Marc Albrighton, Brett Holman, Fabian Delph, Eric Lichaj, Joran Bowery
LIVE BLOG END
Thank you for joining me today for what was a hotly-contested and entertaining game, despite the lack of goals.
Stay logged into Bleacher Report for more coverage of this and all the other Premier League games this weekend. Later on, I'll return with six things we learned from this draw.
As always, I appreciate you company, and I wish you a good afternoon and an even better weekend.
Until next time.
Arsene Wenger's tactics will certainly be called into question (taking off your best goalscorers when you need a goal is a bit curious), but this is still a game that Arsenal should have won.
The Gunners will travel to Everton a bit dejected, but—and I'll say it again—they will do their jobs if they are truly a top team.
Aston Villa will be much happier with a point than Arsenal, but the draw was the fair result based on both sides' performances.
Some might say that the Champions League took a bit out of Arsenal, but credit to Villa for working extremely hard to deny the Gunners the chances that we all thought would come.
Arsenal stay in sixth place—an extremely disappointing sliver of reality for fans who wanted to believe that the team was about to embark on a good run of form.
90+3—Carl Jenkinson whips in a cross, no one can quite get to it, Kieran Gibbs is ruled offside a few seconds later, and that might just be that.
90+1—We'll have three minutes of stoppage time. Can either side break the deadlock in these final minutes?
90'—Aston Villa substitution:
Marc Albrighton enters for Andreas Weimann, who gets a deserved ovation from the Villa faithful.
89'—Ooh, a fantastic clearance from Ciaran Clark prevents a Gervinho goal, and Aaron Ramsey almost got a good kick to the ensuing corner. Arsenal still on the attack with Gervinho.
Francis Coquelin replaces Olivier Giroud in a curious move that will see Gervinho move into the striker's role.
86'—Arsenal are a bit static at the moment, even when they have the ball. Too many players standing still in or near the box, and Andrey Arshavin stopping on the ball, waiting to put in a cross.
Kieran Gibbs finally puts in a cross, which Olivier Giroud just misses.
84'—A free-kick for Villa produces nothing, but they continue to attack with more verve than Arsenal. Banteke races down the right side but Mertesacker takes a great angle to cut him off and force a corner.
Gibbs heads it into touch, but Arsenal need to pick themselves up if they want three points instead of one. Wenger looking dejected as ever on the touchline.
80'—Oh, incredible save by Szczesny! A 25-yard missile from Holman forces the goalkeeper to leap to get a fingertip on the ball, and it proves just enough to crack the shot off the crossbar.
That, my friends, is why top goalkeepers win games. But this one is still being very evenly contested.
Andrey Arshavin on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox has been ineffective today, but can Arshavin produce a moment of magic?
76'—He does, the resulting header is caught by Szczesny, and Arsenal counter with some good build-up play. Aaron Ramsey slips as he takes a shot, but it still goes just wide of Guzan's goal.
Now Olivier Giroud is down with an ankle knock, but stands up on his own power after a little attention from the medics.
74'—Gervinho mishandles the ball when it falls to him after a corner kick, as Arsene Wenger paces nervously on the touchline.
Villa in possession now, threatening Wojciech Szczesny but never actually testing him. Gabriel Agbonlahor is fouled on the left side of midfield, and Barry Bannan will have the opportunity to whip in a cross.
73'—A portent of things to come, perhaps?
77% - Aston Villa have conceded the highest percentage of second half goals of any team in the Premier League. Fatigue.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 24, 2012
72'—Aaron Ramsey unleashes a threatening drive toward goal, but it's deflected over the bar. Arsenal in possession following the corner.
Until they're not. A loose touch gives Brad Guzan a goal-kick. I should really watch before I type.
Gervinho on for Lukas Podolski. That's 13 consecutive Premier League game for Lukas Podolski in which he has been subbed. In other words, all of them.
69'—Ooh, Agbonlahor had a good chance on the left side of the penalty area, and I thought there might be a goal for Villa when Wojciech Szczesny bobbled his low strike, but he managed to cover the ball.
Looks like Gervinho is getting ready to come on for Arsenal. I'd put my money on him replacing Podolski, who has not yet finished a Premier League game this season.
67'—The game's becoming much more open now, as both sides are finding more gaps on more counterattacks that each have more pace.
Now it's Arsenal's turn to attack, but their measured buildup isn't troubling Brad Guzan at all. Nor have Villa really put the pressure on Wojciech Szczesny, but it's been much more entertaining to watch recently.
64'—OOH, multiple chances for Arsenal!
Lukas Podolski had a shot blocked in a really good position on the left side of the box, and from the resulting corner, Aaron Ramsey balloons a shot at the far post.
Arsenal back in possession now in one of their best stretches of the match.
62'—As the commentator on Fox Soccer correctly notes, "So far, this has been an advert for pressing football and English weather." One couldn't sum this match up better and more succinctly.
61'—Ooh, Banteke had half a chance there, but his shot from just outside the box was helped over the net by Per Mertesacker's foot.
The ensuing corner results in another corner, which results in another corner. The Villains are cajoling their boys now, who are making their biggest goalward push of the day.
59'—Arsene Wenger, standing in the manager's box on the touchline, scowls and utters the occasional yell of disapproval to his players. Scarcely noticing the rain, he seems extremely dissatisfied with his team's performance today.
57'—More scrappy leads to Arsenal getting the ball back in their own half via free-kick as Paul Lambert, kept off the touchline by a ban from the FA, scowls in his luxury box.
Ooh, Ramsey almost flicked the ball into the back of the net from his position at the near post, but Guzan isn't troubled.
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