Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa: Undone by Complacency Again

All it took was 900 seconds for the last home match of the season to turn into the latest in a seemingly-unending string of fiascos, disasters, cataclysms and other related synonyms. In searching for the positives, this was all I could come up with for the events of Sunday:

  • This was surely Sebastian Squillaci's last game in an Arsenal uniform.
  • Robin van Persie scored on a real poacher's effort, taking advantage of a cruel deflection off of Richard Dunne to fire home past the stranded Brad Friedel.
  • My 7-a-side team won 5-0 and the Hofbrau Dunkels afterward were delicious.
That's it. That's our lot.

To give the devil his due, Darren Bent had a storming game for the visitors and his two goals were well-earned. The first opportunity was given to him by the dozy Squillaci playing him onside, but all the hard work was still to be done. He basically teed himself up for a volley, and his looping shot just over the fingertips of the blameless Wojciech Szezcsny was in fairness a gorgeous finish. Still, it was yet another goal conceded by a silly mistake.

Soon after, that stat was doubled for the Arsenal. Many are blaming the returning Tom Vermaelen for slipping, which allowed the through-ball to come in. You can, though I think it may be a tad churlish to throw too many pelters at a guy returning after roughly 12 centuries out of action with an Achilles problem. Personally, I thought the otherwise-solid Bacary Sagna was just as culpable for playing Bent onside. This was more of a routine finish for the England man, slotting the ball past the advancing Szezscny. The young Pole was absolutely furious after the goal, and I'm sure we can sympathize with his frustration. He's doing all he can but right now, no one can play behind this shambles of a defense.

The funny thing is that despite how poorly Arsenal started, despite how pedestrian they were until the last 10 minutes or so, we still should have won the game.

Besides his goal, RVP hit the post with a great effort from an acute angle. Halftime sub Marouane Chamakh (on in place of the dreadful Squillaci - quite the adventurous change from Le Boss) had a perfectly good goal called back for what I'm told is a push...see the replay for yourself and tell me if you see any foul play there. Referee Michael Oliver kept the hits coming by risibly failing to send off Stilian Petrov for an obvious second-yellow offense, and further by refusing to whistle for an absolute stonewall penalty.

By my count, that's a swing from 3-2 to 1-2, thanks to the man in the middle. I've told a few people that I'm not even mad though, and it's the truth. Mostly, I just feel bad for the guy - it's got to be a horrible and lonely feeling to be so overmatched and so out of one's depth in a highly visible situation. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, that's for sure. Hopefully the poor guy is back to working First Division matches next season.

Still, the referee's non-performance does not excuse the Arsenal's non-performance for long stretches of this match. It was the same sideways-passing glacially-paced nonsense that we've seen all season. You don't need me to describe it to you, even if I had the energy or desire to do so.

All of this said, there has to be a word said for those brave souls from the Supporter's Club who came out to the Pig yesterday morning. We all know how soul-destroying this season has been, especially the nature of the post-League Cup capitulation. We all know that the side is largely going through the motions, with only the odd van Persie or Szezcsny there to show any fire and try and get us as many points as possible. But, admirably, the voices were on show, getting behind the team especially as we got more into the game. It's nice to be a part of a group that understands what supporting a team is all about.

We love you, Arsenal. We just hope you look a little different when we see you again after the summer break. NYC peeps, we at TMG hope to see all of you for our end-of-season party (AKA the Fulham away match next Saturday). This may be the last time we see each other until August, so let's make the most of it and have some fun despite the inevitable turgid 1-1 draw with the Cottagers.

The Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

Szezcsny 7, Gibbs 7, Squillaci 5 (Chamakh 7), Vermaelen 6, Sagna 6, Arshavin 6 (Bendtner 6), Ramsey 6, Song 6, Wilshere 6, Walcott 6, van Persie 7 (MOTM)