Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3 match report: Boos ring out after Christian Benteke puts Gunners to the sword

Arsene Wenger is angered by referee's decisions as Villa make his 10-man side pay the penalty

The Emirates Stadium

After a summer in which Arsenal failed to recruit anyone other than a young French striker on a free transfer - he stayed on the substitutes’ bench throughout - this was not even the same old, same old. It was worse than that. Arsene Wenger’s side were beaten by Aston Villa for only the third time in 30 meetings and many of their supporters in a 60,000 crowd decided that the fault, in a close contest between Wenger and the referee Anthony Taylor was just about equally divided.

In his programme notes Wenger wrote: “We continue to be active in the transfer market,” which is one way of putting it. There is, however, activity and activity and for the faithful there has been nothing like enough of it.

They booed the manager and then Taylor, who awarded Villa two penalties and sent off Laurent Koscielny, leaving Arsenal to play the last quarter of the game with ten men. At full strength they might have been expected to force a draw, but left short at the back they were more vulnerable than ever to Villa’s historic strength at counter-attacking. Time after alarming time Arsenal lost the ball and found Gabriel Agbonlahor sprinting at them in threatening fashion.

That led to all three goals, which arrived after the home side had taken the lead inside six minutes, when all seemed briefly well with the north London world. Benteke scored twice, confirming that his signature on a new contract was the most important one Villa obtained this summer.

Hawk-eye had been used, a little unnecessarily, when Fabian Delph’s shot came back off the inside of a post in yet another Villa break; it would have been more useful for the referee to have had the assistance in determining whether Koscielny took more of the ball than the man when he brought down Agbonlahor.

Wenger made no secret of his annoyance with the officials, especially over the crucial second penalty, but admitted: "Despite that we could have won. There were a lot of positives in the game and we have to focus on that and forget the referee."

There were negatives too, however, in injuries ahead of Wednesday's tricky Champions' League qualifying tie away to Fenerbahce; Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere all took knocks as well as the three players who had to be substituted. 

For Villa's Paul Lambert, facing Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to start the season, there were naturally very different emotions and particular praise for the "unplayable" Agbonlahor. from what he thought  . "

Yet the new season began in such promising fashion, starting with Jack Wilshere’s clever turn in Arsenal’s left-back position, from which Tomas Rosicky sent Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the left. Given onside with the full-back Matt Lowton nowhere to be seen, the England winger found Olivier Giroud equally unmarked at the near post for a tap-in.

Villa had to make an early change when Nathan Baker was replaced by Ciaran Clark after taking a heavy knock and they had barely threatened when an equaliser suddenly materialised. Clark finally did what Lambert was urging from the touchline  wanted and played the ball down the left, from where it was quickly turned inside to Agbonlahor. Allowed to use his pace and strength without serious challenge, he sped to within ten yards of goal and then understandably went over as Wojciech Szczesny rushed out at him. The referee allowed play to go long enough for Andreas Weimann to shoot into the side-netting, then gave the penalty. Szczesny parried Benteke’s casual kick into the air, only for the striker to head the rebound past him. 

 Even before half time, with Villa level and Arsenal struggling to find a way through them, two dissenters in the lower section of the main stand were holding up home-made banners reading “spend, spend, spend.” the manager meanwhile was forced into a substitution, Oxlade-Chamberlain, like Kieran Gibbs, havin collected an injury, which meant an appearance for Santi Cazorla, who had not started after arriving back late from Spain’s international in Ecuador. For all the Spaniard’s talent, it meant Arsenal lost their width down the left, to where the right-footed Bacary Sagna had moved across after Gibbs’s departure.

Rosicky wasted an excellent chance after a one-two with Giroud, but the story of the second half was Villa’s swift breaks from deep. Delph hit the post, then Agbonlahor on another sprint when he might have been expected to feed Benteke went on himself. Koscielny appeared to have nicked the ball first but a penalty was given and Benteke this time scored more convincingly.

Koscielny was booked for the foul and only five minutes later he baulked Weimann and had to walk for a second yellow card. Still Arsenal had some hope, Rosicky being thwarted by Guzan after a fine individual dribble and the goalkeeper somehow turning Cazorla’s shot onto the bar.

But the defence could no longer cope. Benteke, played clean through, should have had his hat-trick, pulling the shot across goal and then from an Arsenal corner Weimann found Antonio Luna, the one new Villa signing Villa included, running from own half and shooting in off a post.

 

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna (Podolski, 90), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs (Jenkinson, 28); Ramsey, Wilshere; Walcott, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Cazorla, 45); Giroud.

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Baker (Clark, 17), Luna; El Ahmadi, Delph; Weimann (Bacuna, 88), Westwood, Agbonlahor; Benteke.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue