By Ollie Irish
“F**k me, Villa are worse than Stoke.”
How to annoy Martin O’Neill? Accuse his team of playing long-ball football, that’s how. Here’s Arsene Wenger in his post-match interview:
“We wanted three points, we got one. Maybe we dropped two. But it was a difficult game, Villa made it difficult. They stopped us from playing when we had the ball, they played a long-ball game and closed us down. Our passing was not as fluent as usual but we had very good chances. We don’t usually miss the chances we missed tonight.
“We know when we come here what we get and we were not disappointed. They play a very efficient English game with long balls and it is very physical. They are a good side at counter attacking.”
This irked the hell out of O’Neill, who countered:
“He has made a few ridiculous statements in his time here (in England) and that is as good as any. That is an appalling insult.”
Appalling is over the top, but I understand why MoN would find Wenger’s comments patronising, not to mention untrue. From what I’ve seen of Villa under O’Neill, they can pass it around both short and long. And anyway, there is a big difference between a hoofed clearance upfield or an aimless punt in the direction of Kevin Davies (say) – those are long balls – and a measured long pass; Villa play long passes when it suits them, often to initiate rapid counter attacks.
I didn’t see Ashley Young play many long balls as he spent most of the match destroying Gael Clichy’s reputation – a point O’Neill also made. I guess Wenger was pissed off at a) the perceived dropped points, and b) the injuries suffered by Thomas Vermaelen and Eduardo. Still, no need to go after O’Neill – he’s one of the good guys.
Stat attack! Villa have now gone four league games without scoring. Villa have NEVER gone five Prem games in a row without scoring. Their next league match is at Fulham.
Photos from Villa Park: