Date: 22nd September 2019 at 7:54pm
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Aston Villa’s trip down to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal earlier today was certainly a game to remember.

Villa took the lead through John McGinn in the 20th minute and we then saw the hosts reduced to ten men as Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent from the pitch for two bookable offences. Arsenal levelled just ahead of the hour mark as they took full advantage from the penalty spot, but Wesley had us back in front 60 seconds later.

Inside of the final ten minutes, we sat too far back and Arsenal took full advantage to score twice to take a disappointing 3-2 victory and we certainly deserved far more for our efforts.

Speaking to the BBC following the full time whistle, head coach Dean Smith was naturally disappointed to see us not come away with anything from the tie.

“I am bitterly disappointed. We lost our structure for periods in the second half. First half we were on the front foot and looked solid. It is always going to be a tough game but we will never get a better chance to win. The game became too open with them at 10 men. We lost our fearlessness but for some reason we retracted second half and put us under pressure. We scored again and had a good five minute spell but retracted again. The players lost a bit of belief and that is what disappointed me the most. You look at the goals we conceded and they are sloppy. We concede a penalty and give a free-kick away. Second goal, Tyrone Mings has cushioned a header to Neil Taylor and should have put it out for a corner.”

With a penalty shout our way, Smith added.

“I thought it was penalty (handball – Sokratis). He leant towards the ball, which was going towards the goal. It has hit his arm so I don’t know why it wasn’t. But if you’re asking about handballs in the box these days, I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows. We have seen some subjective ones. If they get a good view on the TV screens they need to overrule the on-field referee.”

More positives for those who want to take them, but a very unfortunate end to the game and we should’ve dealt better with it, as Smith pointed to.

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One Reply to ““Lost A Bit Of Belief” – Smith Rues Lost Villa Opportunity Against Arsenal”

  • Although we probably had some bad luck (I have not seen the game), it cannot detract from the outcome. We have now had two significant periods playing against ten men and struggled to make the most of the numerical advantage.

    I do think Dean Smith can get a bit too fixed in his thinking with his team structure. A 4-1-4-1 line up has it’s merits, but I wonder whether Hourihane and Lansbury should have replaced Trezeguet and El Ghazi, once we re-took the lead. Elmohamady might have offered a wide replacement option, but bulking out the midfield might well have helped Nakamba with the Guendouzi threat.

    Although Wesley scored today, he really needs more support up top. I know our wingers provided a bit more in this match, but the striker does need some one centrally closer to him. I have seen Jota mentioned and, in theory, Grealish should be an obvious option, but appears reluctant to push on. Despite Jack’s undoubted skills, I do think team structure is challenged with his presence. He has to press on more consistently or take a wide position. To my mind, I am not convinced Grealish and two wingers leave the midfield robust enough. I realise that will be an unpopular comment for many fans.

    With only four points from six games and a really tough spell to come (on paper at least), once we have played Burnley, Norwich and Brighton, we really need a couple of wins sharpish.

    A colleague of mine follows Cardiff and said to me at the beginning of the season that the the Bluebird’s mistake last year was not playing two up top enough. There might be something in that.

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