EPL 2005: Day 26 (Aston Villa 1 – Arsenal 3)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 5th, 2005 • 7:51 am

It was, in some respects, normal service resumed for Arsenal, with goals by Ljunberg, Henry, and Cole. Lehmann was back in goal (not really surprising after Almunia’s performance against Manchester United) and didn’t screw up anything. Senderos was quite impressive in defence.

In other respects, there were still clear signs that all is not right. As soon as Aston Villa mounted some kind of response (why did they wait for so long?), the whole Arsenal team looked shaky again. Thierry Henry missed a number of glorious chances — he really should have had a hat trick in the first half.

More importantly, however, this game was not much of a test. Aston Villa clearly did not have what it took to compete with Arsenal. They were missing a key playmaker in Lee Hendrie, and Djemba-Djemba had a pretty poor debut, during which he looked more like Senegal player Diouf in both his attitude and his bad temper. O’Leary was probably right to take him off before he actually got himself sent off.

The bottom-line is that the next big test for Arsenal will be the next Champions’ League game. Until then, they might have to compete with Manchester United for the second spot in the league, but it will be a matter of pride more than anything else.

Elsewhere, Manchester United were their usual lucky selves with a wonderful volley by new Birmingham signing Pandiani that hit the cross bar and might have hit the ground beyond the goal line before bouncing back out — and a gift by the Birmingham defence that handed them their second goal on a silver platter. Roy Keane finally got his 50th goal for the club and of course the congratulations were pouring in right away about how he is such a great player, etc. How quickly people forget that he was found to have brought the game into disrepute and suspended for several months not so long ago. No one with such a big stain in his career deserves this level of praise, I am afraid.

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