Arteta’s A-team getting better and better… but Villa loss shows Arsenal’s B-listers are nowhere near good enough

ASTON VILLA’S relegation rivals will be fuming with Mikel Arteta.

Capable of putting together a team good enough to spank football royalty Liverpool and Manchester City one week.

Mikel Arteta shows his frustration as his fringe Gunners fell 1-0 to a hungry Aston Villa side who moved out of the drop zone

 Eddie Nketiah headed against a post as Arsenal fought in vain for an equaliser – but Mikel Arteta will know quality was lacking

Cedric Soares, seen tussling with Jack Grealish, seems to have accepted he will be on the Cup final sidelines for Arsenal

Then being mugged by relative Premier League riff-raff in the shape of relegation battlers Aston Villa.

Let’s face it the nearest Dean Smith are to football royalty right now is their most famous fan Prince William.

Yet Villa merited three valuable points because they gave the Gunners a lesson in desire.

Smith’s grafters beat an Arsenal side with too many grifters as they proved the old adage – hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard!

Sure, Mikel Arteta ‘rested,’ six of his Wembley heroes. But Arsenal still needed points to keep their European hopes alive on two fronts. Surely his replacements should have been capable of keeping the feelgood factor going with FA cup places to fight for?

Now all their eggs are going into one basket against London rivals Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

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Too many fringe players on show at Villa Park seem to have accepted they will be making up the numbers at Wembley on cup final day.

Cedric Soares for example. The recent signing from Southampton watched Conor Hourihane’s corner skim off Tyrone Mings head and land at Trezeguet’s feet at Villa’s goal.

Yet he was slow to react to the danger, caught on his heels, then criminally turned his back when the Egyptian bulleted the ball beyond Emiliano Martinez from the edge of the box.

No wonder 46% of the 46 Prem goals Arsenal have conceded this season have come from set-pieces – the worst ratio in the top flight.

With a cup final just around the corner what was Cedric thinking of? Take the hit son – take one for the team!   


Villa’s terrier like midfielder John McGinn showed him how doing the dirty work pays dividends a few minutes later when Cedic rolled a free-kick into the path of Ceballos.

The Scot put his body on the line for Villa and the Spaniard skied his shot into the Holte End.

The fact Arteta had to call for reinforcements after the break, sending on Xhaka, Tierney and Pepe suggests the Spaniard felt his side had several gears they could go up.

Frankly that is not good enough for Arsenal – or their demanding and ambitious young manager who last week claimed: “We’ve beaten probably the best two teams in Europe.”

Today the Gunners boss is staring at a table which shows his side in 10th place. They have only won four away games all season, to match the club record for fewest wins on the road.

Forget Eddie Nketiah’s second half header which hit the post – Arteta won’t be fooled. 

He will know Keinan Davies should have killed his side off just moments earlier when Jack Grealish sent him clear, only for the striker to let Arsenal off the hook.

For the first time in 25 years Arsenal will end the season outside the top six.

Arteta has already frozen out Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi for falling short of his high standards.

His A team is showing signs of improvement – the B-list is falling short when they should be bursting a gut to impress.

They do so at their peril.


By: Ian Tuckey
Title: Arteta’s A-team getting better and better… but Villa loss shows Arsenal’s B-listers are nowhere near good enough
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Published Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2020 21:36:09 +0000