Arsenal V Aston Villa: Winners and Losers from the Opening Day's Fixture
Arsenal entertained Aston Villa on the opening day of the 2013/14 Premier League season with the Gunners looking to establish themselves as title contenders whilst Villa aimed to forget last season’s calamitous campaign.
The match ended 3-1 in the favour of the Birmingham-based side, with Arsenal conceding two penalties as well as a red card.
Here are the winners and losers from the game.
Winner: Christian Benteke
The Belgian striker picked up exactly where he left off last season by notching a brace against the Gunners.
Benteke, Villa’s chief penalty taker, collected the ball after Gabriel Agbonlahor had been fouled by Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny in the penalty area.
The 22-year-old striker, who bagged 19 league goals last term, initially missed his spot kick but followed up by nodding the ball past Szczesny to pull his side level following Olivier Giroud’s opener.
Agbonlahor later won another penalty of which Benteke made no mistake in dispatching first time, sending the Arsenal custodian the wrong way.
Loser: Laurent Koscielny
The French defender had a truly rotten game at the heart of the Arsenal defence. After looking shaky from the off, Koscielny raced out of position to close down Agbonlahor on 20 minutes only to be nutmegged as the pacy Villa forward burst into the box and won a penalty.
Koscielny was again caught in the wrong position during the second half as Agbonlahor tore through the Arsenal half, bearing down on goal. Rather than jockeying the Villa man, Arsenal’s centre-half opted to try and muscle him off the ball. After being well and truly outpaced, he made a rash challenge—conceding Arsenal’s second penalty of the day.
The defender did make slight contact with the ball but the lunge through the back of Agbonlahor made the decision easy for the referee.
Koscielny was booked in the process and his day then went from bad to worse as he threw himself into a challenge with Andreas Weimann, giving the referee no choice but to show him a second yellow.
Winner: The Media, Apparently
Following the defeat, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger took it upon himself to defer the attention away from his players and their very poor performance by addressing the media, insisting that they should be happy as they ‘got what they wanted.’
As the Mirror reported, speaking at the post-match press conference, Wenger said:
You got what you wanted, you should be happy. Before the start the season that was all you write in the papers so what do you expect?
Could we have won the game with the players we had on the pitch? I say yes.
If we don't spend the money, it is because we don't find the players. I am not the only one to work on that, we are a team that works on that and we are ready to buy the players if we find the players good enough for us.
Loser: Jack Wilshere
Very rarely does the England midfielder have a bad day at the office, but his overall performance against Villa was not one of his best.
He cut a frustrated figure for the majority of the 90 minutes as the Villa defence stood firm. Wilshere is usually the man to keep Arsenal ticking over in the middle of the park and is quite often the source of their creativity. His team were bitterly disappointing against the Villans, however, leading to Wilshere often getting into heated exchanges with opposing players.
Tweeting after the game, Wilshere said (referring to Arsenal's impending Champions League match against Fenerbahce):
Tough to take! Feel the fans frustration but trust me we are giving our all! Must forget today now and focus on Wednesday night! 1/2— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) August 17, 2013
Both: Olivier Giroud
The French striker, who must carry Arsenal’s goalscoring burden this season—unless Arsenal are able to sign another striker before the end of the transfer window—got off to the best of starts before his day fizzled out.
Giroud put his side ahead after just six minutes as his excellent run in between two Villa defenders presented him with enough space to turn Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross home from close range.
After a relatively disappointing first season in the Premier League, an early goal in this fixture looked like it could have spurred Giroud onto better things. It wasn’t to be, however.
The opening goal was pretty much the only thing Giroud did all day. He rarely contributed after separating the two sides and, like Wilshere, grew more frustrated with every Villa goal and was involved in a few ugly exchanges.