If any game of football lived up to the old cliche 'it's a game of two halves' then this was it. We were poor in the first half and so much better in the second. I have to also add that finally we had something go our way for once, although we haven't been great of late, we also haven't had any luck both in terms of refereeing decisions and in term of the rub of the green in other departments.
We were a bit too pedestrian in the first half, we had a fair bit of ball but didn't do enough with it, it was all a tad slow and lacking urgency. We were still rather unlucky to go in 2-0 down at the break. Villa's first was a neat set piece, a short corner that saw Koscielny outnumbered and out jumped by Dunne, their second hit us hard just before half time, Bent finishing second time lucky after Fabianski's save went straight back to the Villa striker. We had a fair bit of pressure though and could easily have gone it level on another day.
The players came out for the second half with a new purpose, a new drive and a real desire to move the ball around faster, press Villa into mistakes more eagerly and to get back into the game of football. It was a better overall team performance, Ramsey and Rosicky particularly impressed with their drive and energy from midfield.
The first came from the penalty spot, Dunne chopped down Ramsey for what should have clearly been at least his second yellow, Jones choked it but did at least give us a penalty, RVP converted neatly. The second relied on a fair bit of luck, Walcott got round his man on the right flank, cut in, and poked the ball at goal from an acute angle, it hit Given, was cleared into Walcott and it rebounded straight into the net, 2-2. The next was another clear penalty, a brilliant burst from Koscielny resulted in a desperate Bent lunge, no contact on the ball and another spot kick slickly converted by RVP. 3-2 and the game turned in an amazing 7 minute spell.
Villa huffed and puffed but couldn't get back into the game, and honestly they didn't deserve to. McLeish has created quite an unlikeable team, rather defensive, poor to watch, and extremely dirty and cynical in their foul play. Importantly the team showed a lot of courage to come back from two down today, and it must be remembered that we do still have a lot of players out injured. Those who started throwing around vitriolic abuse at our players and manager today have been made to look like the class numpties they are, how very priceless.
It is definitely a day for focusing on the positive, how could one not after such a second half resurrection? We all know that our squad is not right in several ways, realistically this can only be addressed in the summer though. Most importantly we have some key players returning to full fitness, Sagna and Arteta being two examples coming back today, and that is great to see. A bit more of this luck, a few more deserved penalties, some more fit first team players and you never know what might happen come May.