Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1: Highbury '49ers storm clear at the top

Last updated : 17 October 2004 By Brian Dawes

Fabregas and McCann
Today we were missing Gilberto, Edu, Ljungberg and Clichy so Fabregas stepped into midfield, Rob moved to the right and if you’re a halfway serious fan you can guess the rest for yourselves. Some would argue that today’s line-up is our strongest team.

There was total dismay amongst a number of Gooners as Graham Poll lead out the teams, the man could be named King Cnut or something very similar. I blame my mate John who said prior to kick off that ‘he’s been alright with us recently’. Poll was crap.

Villa kicked off towards the Clock End and were probably serious contenders for three points for about ten or eleven minutes. Mainly because Poll is these days as desperate not to make an early booking as he used to be to dismiss Pat as early as possible. That being the case he gave O’Leary’s mob his full backing for kicking lumps out of anything in a red and white shirt, Poll was useless. We nearly took an early lead when Sol made a tremendous leap to head the ball, only to see it crash against the cross bar. Still very early in the game Arsenal attacked down the right, Lauren was taken out in an off the ball incident and Villa broke down their left. Quite how neither Poll or the bald git with the flag failed to see such an obvious foul is beyond belief. The cross from the left found it’s way to a noxious little runt called Hendrie on their right, he cut inside and his shot bounced just in front of Lehmann in that spot that’s beaten many a keeper. Had he hit it cleanly Jens may have saved, as it was, the ball sneaked in by the far post. 0-1 Villa. I hoped this would irritate Arsenal into further action, it did.

McCann was their filthiest player and how he didn’t get booked I have no idea but their appalling playacting was even more pathetic. What a cheating bunch of tossers they were. When football was played it was pretty well always by Arsenal. As when a Pires cross was headed wide by Dennis. Barry appeared to injure himself indulging in a spot of overacting against Lauren and had to be substituted, being replaced by Whittingham ‘Who?’ Carlton Cole on Toure, fouling him all the way. Cole (theirs) was a very effective forward and he seems like a player the Bluescum could use right now. Pires to Reyes, who fired past the post. Following a great Bergkamp run Vieira was seemingly taken out in their box but a goal-kick was Poll’s choice.

Hitzlsperger took out Pat from behind. Cesc to Dennis to Henry who saw his shot blocked by Postma’s leg for a corner. Postma had a superb match; he was quite easily their man of the match and looks a serious prospect considering he was only standing in for Sorensen. I can’t remember exactly why, possibly as accumulation of numerous poor decisions but after only seventeen minutes the Clock End were singing ‘Graham Poll is a fecking arsehole’. True.

Cole (theirs) booked for his third foul on Campbell. Reyes to Cole (ours) who had a fierce drive saved after driving forward. Henry then beat their offside trap and steamed into the box from the left, he was tripped. An obvious penalty that not even Poll could miss. Arsene Wenger now has a policy of the man chopped doesn’t take the penalty, so Rob stepped up to hit it hard and low past the keeper’s left. We were taking them apart but it was only 1-1. Mellberg then took out Henry and deserved his yellow card. It was a steamy game and the likes of Dennis and Rob were getting well stuck in, much to the appreciation of the fans. A great cross-field ball from Thierry to Lauren who’s cross was headed over by Jose. There seemed almost to be a long cross-field ball competition today between the players, and many of them were stunning.

Vieira limps off injured
Quick-fire Reyes to Henry to Bergkamp but an un-Bergkamp like first touch resulted in just a corner. This was seriously beautiful to watch, but it totally ruins the evenings highlights programmes because you know you’ll see nothing better. We were slaughtering Villa 1-1 but we all know how dangerous that can be. A brilliant Bergkamp cross, a stunning ball from Fabregas, the football was awesome at times. Still Lehmann needed to be a bit cute every now and again and he played the sweeper’s role to perfection today. Vieira to Reyes, which produced another great save from Postma. Cesc was next to have his shot saved after some quite stunning interplay. A great Pires cross followed. On a rare Villa break Cole took out Cole and Ashley was booked with their free kick resulting in a corner.

Two awful bits of playacting by Villa, Hitzlsperger feigning injury after a sweet Pires tackle in particular was quite despicable. When play went up the other end he got up and trotted back, the ****. Reyes was then chopped down on the edge of the area and Poll said the ball had been played. You could understand him if he had a white stick but the guy is just so crap. A Fabregas foul then resulted in a booking, such stuff by Poll is quite deliberate, he just loves to be noticed, but with an arse as fat as his unfortunately he’s difficult to miss. Even Pat Rice was complaining to the lino. Reyes to Henry, to Bergkamp, who fired it straight at their keeper. Another fine save resulted from Thierry’s shot on the turn, which was hit with venom.

McCann was late on Pires but again got away without a card. Dennis to Reyes with an almost killer ball. Reyes to Henry moving in from the left and beating the offside, he steamed on and slipped it past the keeper low at the far post. 2-1 Arsenal ‘We only sing when we’re winning’. It was just before the break and the game had been a real ripsnorter. Half time and we deserved our lead.

Hitzlsperger was replaced by Davis, I believe Hitzlsperger had a part in Swan Lake up the West End later that evening. Arsenal were now kicking towards the North Bank. Jens was called to make a fine catch despite taking a double hit. Controlled passing was the order of the day, lots of it. Cesc to Henry with a perfect ball, the kid is out of this world, he always knows where everyone is and he will be far, far better than sliced bread. De la Cruz tripped Reyes once more; our young Spaniard took a lot of hits today. The Clock End was very vocal as a passing master class replaced any semblance of a contest. A Reyes, Henry one-two that included a sweet back-heel from Titi saw Reyes have another fine shot saved. Brilliant stuff! Hendrie, I think, cleared off the line then Pires had a fine shot saved. We needed a third to be sure but were we playing well or what?

Dennis was checked so Poll awarded Villa a free kick. Angel replaced Carlton Cole. McCann chopped Cesc and then hand-balled it, but still no card, is he related to Poll? Henry from an angle with a decent shot that the keeper somehow managed to stop between his legs, a piece of luck he deserved. Henry to Pat, to Cesc who had a shot. Mellberg on Dennis, another foul that was not given. Cesc to Reyes and another fine save. Samuel then hit Vieira late and could have been sent off, as it happened he got just a yellow card but Pat was too injured to continue, I’d say he was doubtful for midweek. ‘Vieira’ was still being sung when he was replaced by Flamini who likes to get forward and looked very sharp.

Cesc was clearly kicked by De La Cruz, but there was no card. Dennis nutmegged Mellberg, great stuff. Dennis given offside, I had the perfect view, he wasn’t! Flamini then played about three one-twos with a variety of players on the right and hit a low cross for Henry who cleverly slipped it on to Rob who was steaming forward unmarked. The placement was perfect and the power was good. 3-1 as the ball hit the net low, just inside the far post.

Pires gets the third
Hendrie late on Reyes for a yellow, another one that could have been red. Davis blasted one at the executive boxes with what I think was their first shot of the half. Angel then shot wide. Reyes was replaced by Van Persie, probably to avoid further punishment. A couple of thousand passes later Dennis attempted to chip their keeper. There was an incident earlier I forgot to mention when Reyes and Hendrie were at it and went head to head. Hendrie, cheating little shitbag that he is, went down as if head-butted which he clearly wasn’t. I fully expect someone to break his leg later in the season and I’ll be really, really upset. Not.

Time left for Van Persie to show some class, Cesc to run the game, Flamini to get forward some more and Arsenal to be Arsenal, whichever eleven happens to be on the field. Hendrie screwed up in front of the West Stand and was jeered mercilessly. Good, it rounded off the match nicely. ‘We are top of the League, say we are top of the League’. And so we are, four points clear of Chelski and eleven points clear of Manure. Still there’s plenty of the season left to build up a really substantial lead at the top. Oh yes and our unbeaten run once again reached a new record high.

Just a final footnote, or rather a disclaimer. If you’re reading this report on the Arsenal-world website you’ll see a list of marks awarded to the players for the match below. They’re not mine, and they’re most probably not the marks I’d have given, sometimes I reckon they’re reasonable and other times I wonder if whoever awarded them was even at the same game.