Saturday, February 24, 2024

Arteta looks ahead to tough Villa trip

We’ll stop short of suggesting Saturday evening’s clash between Aston Villa and Arsenal is a case of unstoppable force versus immovable object, but the stats definitely indicate a tough game to call.

No team has garnered more wins (17) and points (55) on the road since the start of last season than Arsenal while Aston Villa have won 14 games in a row at Villa Park.

And the last visiting team to succeed on Unai Emery’s patch? It was Arsenal following that memorable late 4-2 win back in February.

Unsurprisingly, Mikel Arteta is expecting a huge test for his players who’ve worked hard to open a two-point lead at the top of the table.

“Huge credit to them, a huge credit to Unai and the coaching staff for what they’ve done, the way they’ve turned things around, the way they play,” said the manager in his pre-game press conference.

“They’re going to be a really tough opponent, it’s a great place to go, one of my favourite grounds, very English ground, great atmosphere to play football so it’s going to be a big chance for us.”

“Tactically they are really well set up,” he added. “They do two or three different things. They are really brave to play from the back. They really attract you. They have players between the lines that they can really hurt you. They have players in open spaces that are constantly threatening you.

“And not only that, I think it’s the spirit that they created, the atmosphere, the intensity, and the belief that they have at the moment that they can go and beat anybody.”

“It shows the quality of the league. Last year there were others and it shows the competitiveness and the difficulty to be out there but they fully merit where they are.”

While Villa’s form has been eye-catching, Arteta says he’s not surprised by the success of Emery; a coach who struggled to get to grips with the job at hand during his short spell at Arsenal but has had considerable success everywhere else he’s been.

“I’ve followed him since he was in Almeria, what he’s done for every team has been always remarkable,” said Arteta.

“He always improves the players, the team, the club. He’s a manager that I really admire for what he’s done in the game. He’s done it in various countries, in different levels and always been successful. So I’m really happy for him.

“The first season [at Arsenal] he had quite a strong season and he did it straight away after coming from PSG. And he’s carried on. After he went to Villarreal he did incredibly well and now he’s doing really well at Aston Villa.

“He’s had a lot of experience and skill to get the best out of teams.”

One of the players to benefit most from Emery’s expertise is striker Ollie Watkins. The 27-year-old has scored 13 goals in 22 appearances so far this season becoming a regular in the England set-up along the way.

“He’s been tremendously consistent over the last few years and he’s a real threat,” said Arteta who wants his team to cut off the supply line to the attacker.

“Like with a striker, don’t give him the ball in the box. That’s his main quality.”

Adding extra intrigue to the occasion, Mikel Arteta will have to watch the match from the directors’ box after picking up a third yellow card of the season for his celebrations at Luton on Tuesday.

It’s not the first time, he’s not been pitchside for a match – a Covid-19 diagnosis forced him to miss a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on New Year’s Day 2022 – and he’s hoping it won’t affect the players too much.

“Hopefully, they will play better and they will be more positive and I can influence with my positive mind towards them.

“As well we have very experienced coaches, Albert [Stuivenberg], Carlos [Cuesta], Nico [Jover] will be there next to them and we’ve done it in the past from home. So let’s do it now.”

Arteta also confirmed that Arsenal came through Tuesday’s win over Luton without any new fitness issues but five players remain sidelined; Jurrien Timber (knee), Emile Smith Rowe (knee), Fabio Vieira (knee), Takehiro Tomiyasu (calf) and Thomas Partey (thigh).

Arteta sounded doubtful when asked if the latter might be available for the trip to Liverpool in two weeks’ time.

“It’s a bit early to give a time frame. That would be incredibly fast if he’s able to do that. We’re going to have to wait. We are quite short with five key players not being available now for a for a period of time, but we have to continue.”

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Arteta Tots

2-0 win to the gunners. Controlled, composed performance. COYG

Johnny 4 Hats

I just hope Arteta has a comically large sombrero and maracas that he gets out to celebrate every goal in the stands.

Giuseppe Hovno

great point – he can use the ban to finally celebrate unabashedly! presumably he can’t get carded if he runs on to the pitch as a spectator?

Onenil

Banned for life

Badaab

They’d deport him.

A Different George

Possibly to Rwanda.

Reality check

If Scruella gets her way..

Ozzie

To stop those celebrations of hate

I miss santi cazorla

I want a mad comeback win from 2 nil down to 3 -2 Victory with one of the Gabies scoring in the added time of the added time.

Let the Adrenaline gush full on!

Rosapirescastle

We’ve had alot of 2-3 wins for us there or even at our place .
Remember merson getting 2 for villa against us but we came back.
The time diaby scored the worldie against them too , even down to late arteta or Gilberto goals , there’s always late drama in their games but we usually come out right side of it

Ozzie

I prefer a comfy 5-0, like when Souper Kev Campbell injured Nigel Spink and David Platt had to go in goal for them. Paul Davis’ bicycle kick.

Eric Blair

To be honest I’d take a draw right now, that’d feel like a win to me.

Redbaron

We generally tend to play well in games where we anticipate opposition to be up for it. So I expect us to play well in Villa atleast up until the point where we have a comfortable lead. After that, if we have not learned to cut out sloppiness that creeps into our game when we are coasting, it could be anyone’s game.

Giuseppe Hovno

given the tangible excitement both sets of supporters must be feeling, I predict a complete snoozefest 0-1 to Arsenal

Ozzie

I’ll take that all day long!

He’s got no hair but we don’t care...

Looking forward to another faultless performance from our No2.

He’s got hair and we do care

Blah blah blah Raya is rubbish blah blah blah ramsdale is better blah blah blah repeat message on every blog wah wah wah . Give it a rest.

Bleeding gums murphy

God love you fella but this is resentment fuelled obsession. Not healthy.

Nostalgic Gooner

Happy for Emery. He was relentlessly mocked on this site, but it’s clear he’s a much better manager than people thought. Also happy for Martinez who’s now a top 2 keeper in the Premier League. It will be tough but hopefully he we prevail.

Giuseppe Hovno

I am not happy for either I hope they both fail miserably

Chakravo

Nah, mate. I’d be totally happy with Villa coming a distant second to us in the league. Means one of the other “big” clubs have missed out on a top 4 spot 😏

Dada

I respect Emery but detest Martinez.

A Different George

It’s hard to imagine any manager doing well as Arsene Wenger’s successor (and even more so as your first job in England). I think his time at Arsenal simply shouldn’t be part of judging his talent as a manager. In terms of how he comported himself in that very difficult situation, we owe him nothing but respect.

Giuseppe Hovno

I think it’s easy to imagine any manager doing well as Arsene’s successor. There was a lot of obvious flaws to improve

Badaab

If martinez were as good as he thinks he is he might be a good keeper. He’s a bang average premier league goalkeeper, same league as Jose sa at wolves or onana at united.

Nostalgic Gooner

Do you think either Ray or Ramsdale are better than Martinez?

A Different George

Yes, both–about equal at stopping shots, much better at both long and short distribution. Martinez is better on high balls and, of course, in penalty shootouts. But yes, on the whole, no better than Sa.

Ozzie

Yeah but who’s best at coming forward for an injury time corner 😉

Matthinc

Yes Emery, no Martinez.

Snc

Tough away game. Credit to villa for getting 14 games unbeaten. We need to play our game and minimize our mistakes. Every player plays a big part. Coyg.

I miss santi cazorla

Double pivot of Jorgi and Rice… especially to cover Zinny’s defensive vulnerability.

Shano

Ah it would be nice to have Partey back for these big games coming up..

Rosapirescastle

That or Leo on left dropping into cm and kai dropping back into his international role to assist Zincks

Ozzie

Yep, we need Jorgi for another of his ricochets in off Emi’s head.

Kaseenge

Arsenal loves Luton, now they want the Villa

Gunner1971

Martinez, Buendia, ESR, Emery, late comeback last season.

Various past shenanigans and a feisty top-of-table clash could turn this into a new PL grudge match.

GunnerNJ

I’d be curious to hear what Blogs and the crew think but the more I watch Villa this year, the more I become convinced that Emery was setup to fail here. Given the squad he inherited, especially in defense, it was always going to be a tough assignment. But then they start bringing in players that don’t match what he’s trying to do (hello, Pepe!) and it just got uglier. There used to be a lot of talk about Emery’s communication skills and/or a language barrier. Are we to suddenly believe that he has become a master of the English… Read more »

Gunner1971

Emery was always a good coach. I think it’s been said many times, the timing was just bad.

Rosapirescastle

Emery was reeling after being shamed out of PSG so emery of then and emery of now are different animals .
That said I’m not a fan of him especially after the UEFA Cup final v chelski.

Giuseppe Hovno

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think his English language skills might have massively improved after a few years in England? That’s certainly how my Czech improved

Fatgooner

The million dollar question is who will play in goal?

If Arteta does not drop Raya and play Ramsdale then his management is a complete joke.

All that matters is that we win, and that means playing your best players. An out of form keeper must be dropped.

If Arteta sticks with Raya and the Spanish keeper has another nightmare then the mierde will hit the fan.

And Arteta will have deserved it.

Matthinc

“Then his management is a complete joke”

Um. *checks arsenal’s league position*.

Fatgooner

Hello? It’s where you finish at the end of the season that matters. Last season we were top for ages and then blew it. Arteta has won nothing in three years.

To get over the line this time requires ruthlessness. Let’s see if Arteta has it.

Ozzie

Why is that a million dollar question? Each keeper has a slightly different profile and I reckon a guy who trains and talks to them every day and gives them instructions right down to what food to eat is better placed to select a keeper on the day than you or I.

David Dein

Another OG from Martinez pls

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