Aston Villa vs Arsenal: 5 Things We Learned
Whilst the result itself wasn't really surprising, many people were looking to see how Arsenal would react following their defeat to Manchester City, and how Aston Villa would fare following their recent poor-form that has only brought one win in their last five league games.
Here are five things we learned following the game at Villa Park.
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Robin Van Persie Is Irreplaceable in His Current Form
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Robin Van Persie was the difference once again for Arsenal.
I fear for Arsenal because he's becoming so pivotal to their success that they may struggle if he were to get injured or move elsewhere in the January transfer window.
Nevertheless, his performance was quality, and his penalty was expertly dispatched.
His corner late in the game provided the simplest of headers for substitute Yossi Benayoun to finish and gift Arsenal a 2-1 victory, which was perhaps a little harsh on Aston Villa.
His current form makes him irreplaceable. His goal tonight means that Van Persie has equalled Thierry Henry's 2004 record of 34 goals in a calendar year.
Villa Can Create Chances
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Aston Villa can create chances!
Before tonight's game against Arsenal, Villa had managed only two goals in their last five Premier League matches. They have only one victory in that span, but more disturbingly, they just haven't looked like a scoring squad.
Tonight was better, and Villa were unlucky not to score more than the one against Arsenal.
Villa fans will welcome back Darren Bent from injury (and shopping) in the coming weeks, which will immediately increase their attacking threat.
Arsenal Can Bounce Back
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Arsenal didn't play too badly in their recent match against Manchester City, despite everybody expecting them to lose by more than David Silva's solitary goal.
Arsene Wenger then came out in the press and admitted that the Premier League title was out of reach.
The Arsenal players could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop, particularly against an Aston Villa team who came out fighting in the second half, but their concentration held well. They proved they have the mental strength to bounce back and claim a victory when their backs were against the wall.
Marc Albrighton Is a Record Holder
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Marc Albrighton had the special honour of scoring the Premier League's 20,000th goal tonight, which assures his name will go down in the history books.
The goal itself wasn't bad, either. Poor defensive play by Thomas Vermaelan gave Albrighton possession, and he coolly slotted the ball through Szczesny's legs.
Albrighton will give a cheque of £20,000 to a charity of his choice.
Arsenal Have Defensive Problems
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Arsenal gifted Aston Villa their goal in fairness.
Thomas Vermaelan's lightweight header to Per Mertesacker was poor, and Albrighton pounced.
Arsenal could point to their injury list to highlight why they are defensively weak at the moment, with Bacary Sagna, Andre Santos, Kieron Gibbs, Johan Djourou and Karl Jenkinson all sidelined for treatment.
However, Wenger named Francis Coquelin ahead of Sebastien Squillaci, which suggests lack of faith in the latter.
Coquelin was given a torrid time by Charles N'Zogbia and will need to improve vastly.
All in all, it was a good win for Arsenal, even if they did not set the world alight with style and flair.
I wouldn't be surprised if Sebastien Squillaci leaves the club in January. He seems surplus to requirements at the club, and Arsenal certainly may need to arrange some defensive cover for their mounting injury list.
This victory pushes Arsenal level on points with Chelsea in the race for the fourth Champions League spot. Given the current standings, Arsenal may be hoping that Spurs beat Chelsea; the blues would be easier to catch than their most bitter rivals.
Follow me on twitter @petercwebster