Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0
A game that could have gone either way eventually petered out into a draw much fairer than its equivalent last season, when Villa battered us yet only pinched a point in injury time. That day, we could have conceded six, whereas last night was a much tighter affair.
Chances were at a premium at both ends. We can point to a fabulous run and shot on to the post from Cesc, Rosicky hitting the bar in the second half, and a good save from another Cesc chance, but Villa can equally mention an early save from Agbonlahor, and a golden opportunity for Downing, which he missed largely due to a reluctance to put his head where it hurts.
When all was said and done, both teams could see it as a chance squandered, but neither side really deserved to win or lose. So the question is, was it a point gained or two dropped?
Given that United, Liverpool and Chelsea have all lost to Villa this season, it has to be considered a point gained. You would happily accept four points from a top six side any season – beat them at home, draw with them away, otherwise known as the formula for title success.
Of course, there is always a down side, and continuing the theme of the season, it is, of course, the news of who failed to complete the game. Eduardo’s hamstring injury is unfortunate, but manageable given the returns of Walcott, Nasri and Bendtner, but much more concerning is the suspicion that Vermaelen has a broken fibula. Even with a clean break and good recovery, he would be out until early April. Fingers crossed the x-ray comes back clean.
If the scan shows a break, Campbell will find himself thrust into big games far sooner than he would have expected, and probably far sooner than Wenger would have liked. With Silvestre also injured, we have few options, and you have to wonder whether Wenger will dip into the market in the next few days to ease the problem. Campbell cannot be expected to play every game, and one more injury brings Bartley into the team or forces Song to drop into the back four. Given that the manager would have been expecting to sign a central defender or two in the summer anyway, he may be tempted to move early.
Ironically, injuries are clearing up further forward. With Song, Nasri, Ramsey, Bendtner and Walcott all available, we have genuine competition for places in midfield and attack. Diaby’s return is imminent too, although you never know with the big man. A ‘week away’ can easily turn into a month.
United next, and Sunday’s game at the Grove should be a belter. Ferdinand is missing for the visitors, but Rooney is in the form of his life. Last night was goalless, this one surely won’t be.