Overall, definitely a shade or two superior to last week's showing against Tottenham. Villa were previously unbeaten at home and to bring home all three points is quite an achievement. Psychologically surrendering another decent lead would have been a hammer blow that I don't think we could have recovered from. The game wasn't safe until Wilshere headed home after an excellent dinked centre from Chamakh, 4-2 the final score, although Villa pushed hard at 3-2 we generally defended a bit better than on last Saturday.
The first half was one way traffic, although the goals came late, they did look likely, the outstanding Arshavin finding the bottom corner via Friedel's hand and then Nasri drilling in with good technique on the volley from a corner. In between those both Nasri and Chamakh were very close to adding further goals. Arshavin was looking back to his best, quick, lively and alert, everything good about the little Russian was on show today, while Nasri continued his excellent form. Two nil at half time did not flatter us.
The second half was tighter than it should have been, partly down to the gross incompetence of the officials and partly down to a second Villa goal that I feel Lucasz Fabianski should have done more to prevent. Clark hit a great shot from the edge of the box, but Carew was right in front of Fabianski and quite blatantly blocking his view, so much so that Fabianski was bending his neck to look around the left side of Carew. This meant Fabiasnki was not only unsighted but also slightly out of position, how on earth the ref Clattenberg didn't disallow this goal for a clear offside I will never know. This goal gave Villa hope. Shortly afterwards Rosicky played Chamakh clean through and he then toed the ball past Friedel, our two goal cushion was restored.
The second Villa goal came from a set piece and it is from set pieces that we looked vulnerable all day long. Dunne won the header from the corner, it looped back across the goal, it looked a ball that the keeper should have claimed in my opinion, Fabianski stayed rooted to his goal line, Clark flicked the ball in off the bar, 3-2 it was and our nerves were jangling again. In all honesty we played fairly sensibly from this point and defended pretty well, Villa created nothing clear cut from this point in. The fourth goal on the break then sealed things nicely.
Overall some very good performances and a good result, job most definitely done, but some doubts still remain. Arshavin was magnificent, hungry for blood from the off, devastating with the ball at his feet, an end product with everything he did. Nasri and Rosicky were imaginative and tidy. Chamakh was excellent, great link play and a good goal. Song was efficiently effective, Wilshere fought hard and used the ball extremely cleverly. Clichy was far more solid than I have seen him for a while, Koscielny intercepted and read the game well. The main doubt I have at the back is Fabianski's ability to deal with the high ball, mainly regarding crosses and set pieces. There's no doubt he's a great shot stopper, but can he dominate aerially? Personally I think not.
Certainly some lessons appeared to have been learnt. Song seemed to be stuck a bit deeper today, there was more discipline in his game, this does look very much like something Arsene must have done in response to out recent capitulations. Wilshere's presence definitely made a difference in the midfield, he mucks in and is never afraid to make a tackle. The forward play was generally outstanding, Villa were on the rack time and time again, the movement and pace of our passing game was simply too much for them. Arshavin was the player that we all know he can be at his best today, I hope we see this as a regular feature for the rest of the season.