This was such an interesting game. The first half was really poor, we didn’t get going and we conceded (of course we conceded). The bright spark was Saka who took a couple of marvelous shots that on another day would have been great goals – he is going to be a great addition to the squad. Late in the half, Maitland-Niles, already on a yellow, got himself sent off for a second yellow and we saw out the half with Xhaka playing at right-back.
The second half also started slowly, Emery had (sadly) had to take off Saka to bring on Chambers at right-back. He had done well earlier in the season so that felt like a good move. Still we huffed and puffed. Guendouzi’s energy was beginning to trouble the visitors and then he was brought down while slaloming into the box. Pepe fired home the resulting penalty. Phew ………. but then we conspired to give Villa another goal.
On 71 minutes Torreira and Willock came on for Xhaka and Ceballos and then the fun started. Guendouzi has energy to burn, I love that guy, Willock must be terrifying to play against when you’re getting tired and Torreira was snapping into tackles. Chambers showed he wouldn’t give up the chance to score by equalising to 2-2 and then Aubameyang put us ahead with a beautiful free kick.
Now I love snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and we did just that. We had played poorly for 70 minutes and conceded 2 goals, gosh we do make things difficult for ourselves.
I have to say something about Guendouzi – did I mention that I love him. His energy is amazing but what I love also is the way he engages with the crowd while the game is going ahead. I don’t think we’ve had a player that recognises the part the crowd are playing while the game is going on. Most players play with their heads down doing their job (which is fine) but this guy urges the crowd to join in. It’s fantastic. The Emirates was still nearly full at the full time whistle, supporters were staying behind to applaud Matteo as he walked around the pitch. I love him.
Player ratings from RC78
Leno – 5. Let’s in 2 goals but did well.
AMN – 3. Started the match well but squandered a glorious chance. Then gets a yellow and another one. Clearly more at ease going forward than at defending l.
Sokratis – 4. Nothing spectacular and almost gave away another PK.
Luiz – 5. Sober and had some decent passing.
Kola – 5. Struggled going forward but defended OK.
Guendouzi – 7. This guy is a pure Ray of light this season. Doesn’t hide. Wants to win. Drives the ball forward and defends with passion.
Xhaka -4. Another lacklustre performance. Not leading by example.
Ceballos – 4. Anonymous.
Pepe- 6. Chances, a goal and lots of runs at opposition. Needs to improve but at least he played well.
Aubameyang – 6. A goal and a great effort for the team. What a player we have in Auba.
Saka – 6. Great start by the youngster. Fantastic debut and unlucky to be subbed.
Chambers – 6. The goal and the passion he showed make up for the second goal we conceded. Pure warrior attitude. Must be a starter.
Willock and Torreira – 5. Slotted in well. Great attitude too.
Emery – 5. A tough win and I hope that he’ll now drop Sokratis and Xhaka and let Chambers and Torreira or Willock start.
A win is a win 🙂