Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0: Villa Blown away

Last updated : 02 April 2006 By Brian Dawes

Thierry celebrates his first goal
An organised and massive minute's applause for Rocky prior to kick off, with the appropriate chanted accompaniment, was a fine start to the day's proceedings.

I saw odds of 11-1 quoted for Villa winning this match but can only assume that that was if Henry was playing them on his own. I know you can never count your chickens and all that but this was potentially a very one sided game and that's pretty well how it panned out. Arsenal are in a groove right now and that's the way it continued this afternoon, although not quite from the kick off.

Our first meaningful attack involved Pires and Adebayor, who looked very much at home today, but his cross from the right was too high for Reyes. The tempo was somewhat slower than against Juve but in all fairness it must have been as difficult on the pitch as it was off it to get too enthusiastic about the game given what's coming up this week. It seemed a pretty well foregone conclusion against a Villa side that is on the slide, in fact recent form suggests they are lucky not to be closer to the drop zone right now. Many foregone conclusions have come back to haunt us of course, but not today. A sweet ball from Senderos to Reyes set up Henry for his first goal of the day but he passed to Rob instead of shooting, and Pires slipped over.

Pires to Adebayor in a move that saw Henry blocked off on a run and the resulting free kick from Reyes looked like it might have found the net if only it had managed to clear the wall. Villa were trying to foul us but generally failing even when hanging onto shirts, although the thug McCann did appear to catch Cesc on the top of his foot. We were just starting to really get going when Cesc had to be replaced by Diaby, hopefully the injury is not a bad one. Sorensen took a Reyes corner well and at the other end Kolo stopped Phillips who looked their only threat before the break.

Diaby went on a decent run playing one-twos as if he'd been in the side for a couple of seasons, the ball came to Henry who saw his shot saved. Phillips at the other end got through and chipped Lens but also chipped it over our bar, a fortuitous escape that may have made us take things somewhat more seriously. A ball to Henry in the left channel saw him round Sorensen who had to chase him down a bit wider than he'd have liked. Henry cleverly spun and chipped an angled ball at goal from our left with the keeper stranded. Hughes headed out the lobbed shot from under the bar on the goal line. Unfortunately for Villa Arsenal now have a poacher in the form of Adebayor who was in the right place at the right time to head home from the attempted clearance. 1-0 Arsenal and the result from here on in was never in any doubt.

... and then gets his second
Henry hit a killer ball to Reyes as we gracefully slipped into the sort of passing mode that can only be stopped by dirty deeds. Wenger looked a tad animated on the line at this juncture but I couldn't really figure why, things looked ok to me. Another run by Adebayor was rounded off with a good cross that Henry fired over. We were well on top now and O'Leary was probably looking for a hole to crawl into. Our second came when a through ball to Henry had to be taken down from a height before he could chip the keeper as he rushed to close the gap. Very sweet, very calm, very controlled, very Henry and very much game over. 2-0 Arsenal and what followed was an exhibition match where Villa got to look positively mediocre as Arsenal toyed with them. Had this been a boxing match the ref would have stopped it here and now, but we still had another 65 minutes remaining in which to embarrass O'Leary.

A touch of genius by Rob on the right who was not steaming into tackles as he had in midweek, I wonder why? Great control from Adebayor as Diaby powered his way forward. An Adebayor cross that Thierry tried to contact with an overhead kick. Reyes did McCann up like a kipper so he was chopped down, but no card from Mr. Atkinson who in the main had a stress-free match today. One-sided games being fairly easy to control. Eboue nearly in as the keeper grabbed at it. An Eboue cross that Sorensen spilled. Barry was trying and looked positive but he also proved he has no right foot with a wayward shot.

Class play followed class play from Arsenal and as the half closed another fine run from Adebayor set Henry up whom in turn gave Eboue the chance to score. Sorensen however made a great near post save. Half time in a one sided game and I reckon you could have got odds of 11,111-1 on Villa after the first 45 minutes.

Arsenal kicked towards the North Bank after the break and all those annoying twats who get back to their seats late missed a blinding goal I'm pleased to say. As you can tell I just love it when that happens! A long through ball saw Adebayor steaming forward to meet it in the left channel where he managed to execute the perfect back heel into the path of Henry. What followed was a ‘feck me' moment of exquisite execution by Henry. Wham - top corner, keeper rooted no chance 3-0. As peachy goals go this was a delightfully ripe one, it had stunning power and yet was bent delightfully into what seemed to be the perfect spot between post and bar. This was a real gob-smacker of a goal and one to drool over on the replays.

Van Persie and Hleb warmed up as Adebayor had another run and shot. We were so on top it almost wasn't true, however we were disciplined enough to get eleven men back even if they were not necessarily required against a frankly inept Villa. The Clock End delivered an ironic ‘David O'Leary' chant before Barry and De La Cruz were replaced by Cahill and Agbonlahor. Eboue was hurt in a great move that involved Rob and Thierry and was then axed down on a great solo run. The trip on Eboue was by Bouma who deserved the yellow card awarded to him. Reyes to Senderos from a corner who headed on target from the edge of the box. Philippe even managed to get back in time to stop the Villa break to warm applause.

Van Persie is congratulated by Pires
We were looking seriously good and taking the piss in a nice sort of way. We were not being nasty but rather like a playground bully we just wouldn't let Villa have the ball. ‘Have you ever seen Chelsea play this – have you feck'. When Kolo goes down the right and back heels to good effect to win a corner you just know you are totally on top. Pires took the corner and slipped it inside to Reyes who after a short run unleashed a fierce drive that went over. A late tackle on Henry by McCann was waved on as ‘advantage' because poor referees have no idea what might be a nasty and dangerous tackle if a class player is too good to go down.

A great cross from Henry to Adebayor was met by a decent header that was very well saved by Sorensen. Diaby was limping, as was Eboue when Philips had an open goal only to find Jens playing the mean German who wouldn't let him score. A fine save with our goal wide open and a few words were exchanged amongst the redcurrents. Van Persie came on as sub for Henry who passed the captain's armband to Gilberto and left the field to pure adoration from the Gooners. The injured Eboue was replaced by Djourou shortly after. Kolo in his now normal world class fashion stopped a rare Villa attack dead in it's tracks as we regrouped. Gilberto to Adebayor whose low shot was saved. Hendrie, who Trev thinks looks like a ten-year-old, shot over from distance.

Pires with a sweet ball to Van Persie who went on a solo but was forced away from goal by Sorensen, but Robin somehow kept control as he was closed-down by defenders. He managed a narrow angle shot long after he looked certain to have been tackled but Robin being Robin found the back of the net. 4-0 Arsenal. We were shredding Villa and ‘Four-nil to the Arsenal' was the chant as we passed them into oblivion.

Pires with a decent shot from range that went wide. A Kolo solo followed by a rocket of a shot that was heading for the top corner before Sorensen intervened with a great save. ‘Kolo Toure der der der dut'. Hendrie with an easy shot for Jens. Adebayor on a fast break in the right channel with Diaby charging forward as in the left channel. The ball was squared and Abou slammed it into the roof of the net. 5-0 Arsenal.

Kolo over his own bar to clear. Great save by Jens following a loose ball in our box. Van Persie with a whipped in cross from a free kick. A Flamini shot as our defenders attempt to get on the score sheet. Even Djourou joined the attack. Flamini had a power shot go just wide from range. Djourou very nearly made the score sheet with an own goal from a rushed clearance as the crowd ended the day rather appropriately with the Rocky Rocastle chant.

Rocky would have loved this exquisite performance as much as we did.