In what should have been a total mismatch in Villa Park, Arsenal was unable to come away with a critical three points to the massive home underdogs, as lowly Aston Villa salvaged a point with a 0-0 draw.
This EPL fixture was played in slosh, rainy conditions, which leveled the playing field between two clubs drastically apart in the Premier League table. Villa's perpetual failure to defeat the Gunners in their own stadium continued, as FootballFacts101 alluded to on Twitter:
Aston Villa haven't beaten Arsenal at home in 13 attempts since coming from two goals down to win 3-2 in December 1998 (D6, L7).— FootballFacts101 (@FootballFact101) November 24, 2012
But that was about the only solace Arsenal could take in Saturday's outcome.
A strong first half wasn't a surprise for the Lions, who have had a tendency to compete hard before the break only to fall apart in the second half.
Despite losing the possession battle, Aston Villa had by far the best scoring opportunity early on. As recently returning Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny ventured out of the box, he slipped and made a play on the ball outside of his area, which resulted in a free-kick opportunity for the Lions in the 37th minute.
Ciaran Clark then took advantage, firing into a crowd of players before striker Andreas Weimann pounded it into the net from point blank range. Unfortunately for the raucous home fans, the Villa striker was offside.
The Gunners, meanwhile, got a golden chance from an unlikely source: defender Laurent Koscielny, who was just five yards away from the net, but skied the shot over the crossbar at 43' to keep the scoreless tie going.
It seemed to be just that kind of day for Arsenal. The club has struggled all year in Premier League fixtures and is mired in a slumping, disappointing season, much to the visible chagrin of manager Arsene Wenger on Saturday.
The rather uneventful first half ended in a scoreless tie, as the pitch conditions continued to hamper both offenses. The Mirror provided a simple but humorous analysis of the action:
H-T Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal - it's raining goals. Only without the goals.— MirrorFootball (@MirrorFootball) November 24, 2012
That proved to be characteristic of the rest of the match. The rain was steady, but so was the lack of goals.
Both clubs exchanged scoring chances in the final 45 minutes, but nothing really came of them. And mother Nature provided the best defense for both sides rather than an exquisite defensive effort from either backfield.
Here is a look at some individual grades from each side of this scrappy, ultimately uneventful match, which was another massive letdown for Arsenal.
Santi Cazorla: C
After leading the dismantling of the Tottenham Hotspurs last week, the Arsenal attacking mid struggled to find his form in Villa Park. He had multiple chances himself, but couldn't capitalize. Cazorla's typically accurate passing wasn't as crisp either.
Brad Guzan: A-
The Lions goalkeeper registered his third clean sheet of the season in what has been a difficult EPL slate. Aston Villa's league-worst attack hasn't helped the cause, but Guzan keyed the continued frustration for the Gunners' attack, distracting Arsenal enough to blow any chances they had and stopping every attempt on net.
Aaron Ramsey: B-
In the 74th minute, Ramsey nearly had a sliding goal from the top of the box, pulling it just wide of the left post past Guzan. But the Arsenal winger also blew a point-blank opportunity in the second half, and he should have been the one to get the Gunners on the board and out of enemy territory with three points.
Bret Holman: A
After subbing in at 63', Holman gave the Villa attack new life, including a rip that Szczesny got a mere fingertip on to deflect off the crossbar. It was the best scoring opportunity in the second half and could have given the Lions an improbable three points.
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