Let's make the Aston Villa game the blueprint for Arsenal
- Credit: Zac Goodwin/PA
A tweak in mentality and tactics resulted in an electrifying 3-1 Arsenal victory over Aston Villa at the Emirates stadium on Friday night.
On Arsène Wenger’s birthday, Mikel Arteta fielded a throwback 4-4-2 with two dynamic midfielders, inverted wingers and Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang paired together up top.
It yielded an outstanding first half performance from the Gunners who pressed aggressively to suffocate Villa off the ball and carved out chance after chance on it.
At half time, Arsenal had 14 shots with five on target, whilst Villa failed to register a single shot.
The formation helped to include Lacazette after his impressive recent cameos and the Frenchman was key to Arsenal’s belligerent pressing. It allowed he and Aubameyang to occupy the three Villa centre backs and force a half time substitution from Dean Smith.
Lacazette has under a year left on his contract, and it is likely that he will leave the club this summer, but for now he is an Arsenal player, and one who can have a big role in the club’s fortunes.
But the most impressive feature of Arsenal’s play on Friday night was their effort levels.
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Those levels are the benchmark going forward.
Against Crystal Palace, the Gunners dropped off after scoring their early opener, allowing Palace the ball and subsequently a route back into the game. Aston Villa, meanwhile, were not given that chance and Arsenal were rewarded by going up 3-0.
Aston Villa were especially poor in the first half, and Arsenal will not have it that easy going forwards, but if the team play with the energy they did on Friday then the results will take care of themselves.
That was evident scoring from a corner, a penalty and a deflection.
We saw once again this weekend that a spot in the top 4 is up for grabs, and this season is a great opportunity for Arsenal to take that Champions League place.
The squad may be built for two or three years down the line, but the opportunity is there now and Arsenal should do their best to take it.