I should have known this would happen. The starting eleven were missing some key players – Cesc, Nasri, Djourou, Clichy and Koscielny, and they weren’t even available as substitutes. With a hybrid “B” team, Arsenal were exposed early and Aston Villa (Darren Bent) scored two quick goals. Same old story: the Gunners dominated possession but couldn’t score.
To be fair, Aaron Ramsey should have been awarded a penalty kick when tackled by Richard Dunne in the box, and Chamakh’s header in the second half was disallowed due to a questionable call. But the team needed to be sharp for the full 90 minutes, not 75. Furthermore, we had 13 corners, compared to Aston Villa’s 2. I feel for Arsene Wenger, who was caught on camera throwing his water bottle in disgust. At least I have the choice to skip next week’s match at Fulham; he doesn’t.
Robin Van Persie was once again the bright light, scoring in the 89th minute and ringing one off the post in the first half. Bendtner came on for Arshavin in the 62nd minute, and made an immediate impact but was not rewarded with a goal.
I feel sorry for the fans at the Emirates, who deserved a better show on the last home game of the season. Many left early, skipping the lap of honour, and those who stayed booed loudly after the last whistle had blown. With an average price increase of 6.5% next year, some season-ticket holders will have a tough decision to make.
If Man City can beat Stoke and Bolton, they will clinch third place and avoid the additional two games for Champions League qualification. Hard to believe that Arsenal would finish fourth this year, after finishing third last season.
One bit of good news: Pat Rice has indicated he would like to stay with Arsenal for another year. Pat Rice, who’s been Arsene’s assistant manager since day one of the Wenger Era, was also their youth team coach from 1984 to 1996, and a player from 1964-1980. It will be a huge loss when he eventually retires.
One more fixture to go, then let the summer madness (rumours and outright lies) begin!