Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1: One week, Two teams

The thing about an inexperienced team is that its consistently inconsistent.

Nothing better epitomises that maxim that this current Arsenal side, which went from passive and stolid to free-flowing and dominant in less than a week.

The Crystal Palace performance on Monday was the perfect example of the struggles this young Arsenal side have experienced over the last year, while the performance against Aston Villa was the perfect example of the potential this same side retains.

It’s simply a case that we will just have to get used to seeing both sides of this young squad in the short term. Until it has the raw game time and match experience under its belt, this side is going to stutter at times and soar at others. Hopefully, in a few years from now, it will be much more soar than it is stutter.

Full credit to our young stars on Friday night, however, they were simply superb. They managed the game in a way they simply failed to do against Palace and, in truth, produced one of the most complete displays we have seen from a Mikel Arteta side – nearly 90 minutes of dominance.

It’s universally accepted that Emile Smith Rowe was the stand-out player on Friday night. We are running out of superlatives for a young man who is so supremely talented that an international call cannot be far away – although the longer he can avoid the inconvenience the better!

Alongside Emile’s brilliance, however, was a slew of excellent performances across the park in an unexpected return to 4-4-2 from the manager. Thomas Partey had the support he needed in midfield to really impose himself while Sambi Lokonga made amends for his own shortcomings on Monday with a confident display.

Nuno Tavres was extraordinarily dynamic on the left – maybe even a little too dynamic with his shooting – while Alexandre Lacazette provided the perfect foil for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Frenchman was busy, ever-present, and a downright nuisance for a Villa back line that struggled throughout. An extra body up top was exactly what was required for this game, although the manager sticking with it in the longer term would be a surprise.

In truth, we could talk about everyone on the pitch because, almost without exception, they were brilliant. Yes, Villa were particularly atrocious on the night, but a large part of that would have been to do with the sheer dominance of the hosts.

The only blot on the copybook was missing out on a clean sheet after a hard-working display from the Gunners’ back line. The Villa goal was well-taken but I’m sure Gabriel and Ben White will have been disappointed Ramsey was able to get his shot away.

For the most part, however, they were excellent and be pleased with their night’s work. It really is a blossoming relationship and perhaps the most solid and consistent we have had since Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielney.

Next up for us on Tuesday is another home fixture, this time Leeds United are the visitors in the Carabao Cup. Frankly, we have bigger fish to fry this season but the manager seems intent on going deep into the competition so expect a fairly strong side, albeit with one eye on a trip to Leicester the following Saturday. Until then!

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