Arsenal out gunnered by Villarreal’s inside game

Emmanuel Adebayor’s acrobatic finish gave Arsenal a valuable away goal but they were run ragged by Villarreal’s passing and movement in the first half.

As an Arsenal fan, one may have been forgiven for harboring just a hint of envy after watching Villarreal’s first half performance. The Gunners were overrun and out maneuvered in a first half totally dominated by the Spanish side.  To be fair Arsenal are still fairly premature in the beginnings as a team and it clearly showed, with Villarreal displaying the type of football played only just last year by Arsenal.

The movement was superb and the Gunners were unable to cope. Rossi dropped into the hole and linked up play brilliantly; Cani and more effectively, the wiry Ibagaza looked to come in off the flank at all times to provide the support. With the wingers coming inside it posed problems for the defence in who to mark with Villarreal then easily able to switch the play out wide again. Capdevila and Ángel bombed forward with great dynamism but were it not for a fantastic Walcott tackle, the left back could have finished off a flowing move.

Senna and Eguren played equally important roles as they were the foundation for the attacks and showed great assurance when in possession. And it was Senna who got the first goal; Rossi’s balance and shielding dragged the midfielders in which allowed the Spaniard to arrive unmarked and fire an unstoppable shot past Almunia. There were initial question marks over who should have been marking Senna but rather than fault Song and Denilson, credit must go to Villarreal. It was a great test for Arsenal’s young midfield pair who came out stronger in the second period. They didn’t show for the ball greatly enough while Wenger tried to change things by switching the pair by utilising Song as the more disciplined midfielder and Denilson the one to knit play with his energy.

Arsenal needed Fabregas on the ball who, apart from a disallowed free-kick couldn’t conjure up great inspiration in the half. However the Spaniard started to dictate play after the restart and with that the Gunners began to find their feet. Nasri came infield from the left to link up with the skipper giving Adebayor the chance to roam and find space. And it was the combination of Fabregas and Adebayor once again that produced the goal; Fabregas’ fantastic long ball was expertly chested down by the Togolese forward before scissor-kicking into the bottom corner.

They say the sign of a true champion is to grind results out when things are not totally going their way but the danger for Arsenal is that they must not leave too much to do.

Man of the match: Giuseppe Rossi– A number of Villarreal players could have won it and indeed Fabregas and Adebayor may have had a shout but the Italian was the key link in their attacking play. He kept the ball fantastically well which allowed the wide men to play around the forward.

Villarreal (4-4-1-1): Diego López 6— Ángel 7, D Godín 7, G Rodríguez 7, D Capdevila 7— Senna 8, Cani 6 (sub: M Fernández, 46min), S Eguren 8, A Ibagaza 7 (sub: G Franco, 78) — G Rossi 9*, J Llorente 6 (sub: R Pires, 70). Subs not used: S Viera, Nihat, J Venta, F Fuentes.

Arsenal (4-5-1): M Almunia 7 (sub: L Fabianski, 27) — B Sagna 6, K Touré 6, W Gallas 6 (sub: J Djourou, 43), G Clichy 7 — T Walcott 6 (sub: E Eboué, 78), A Song 6, C Fàbregas 8, Denilson 6, S Nasri 7— E Adebayor 8.
Subs not used: C Vela, M Silvestre, N Bendtner, K Gibbs. Booked: Song, Adebayor, Fàbregas, Nasri.

Referee: T H Ovrebo (Norway).

Villarreal Team Statistics Arsenal
1 Goals 1
1 1st Half Goals 0
3 Shots on Target 3
6 Shots off Target 7
4 Blocked Shots 2
8 Corners 11
10 Fouls 15
0 Offsides 5
0 Yellow Cards 4
0 Red Cards 0
78.5 Passing Success 81.1
431 Accurate Passes 162
163 Bad Passes 93
24 Tackles 18
91.7 Tackles Success 72.2
53.5 Possession 46.5
46.6 Territorial Advantage 53.4
109,112 Distance Covered 109,289

8 thoughts on “Arsenal out gunnered by Villarreal’s inside game

  1. To me Ade’s goal was created out of nothing really. I think the defenders had it covered otherwise. A more clinical Villarreal team would have scored more in the first half but Djourou and more importantly Fabianski did well. the former is the focus of my latest post.

  2. Villarreal didnt totaly dominate. It was a game of two halfs, Villarreal were great in the first and Arsenal were the better team in the second. Its a fair result imo.

    1. I refrained from mentioning that it was a game of two halves as Arsenal were not quite as dominant in possession as Villarreal were in the first half.
      I did say the Gooners were better in the second period. A fair result had Villarreal been more effective in the final third regarding shots.

  3. this is the best analytic column there is. But you have lost it mate. Rossi was the most fleeting character on the pitch; what you praise him for, he did once. He was totally unremarkable.

    1. Was it me or was there a blur of yellow that was affecting the image in the first half? It was a total team performance and I doubt without Rossi they could have done the same.
      He had great maturity in the match and when he dropped into the hole caused great problem. I was actually going to give the MOTM to Eguren but changed my mind. Each to their own I say. Thanks for the comment.

      1. I might see what you mean; however, the way Cesc was annihilated by Eguren, how Sagna was destroyed by Capdevila, how Godin got the better of Adebayor; those were the real performances.

  4. This is a fair analysis, don’t listen to the critics. Anyone with objective eyes saw that Villareal totally dominated us in the first half, we were very poor. We can’t cross for shit and we gave them all the time and space in the world. We couldn’t get anywhere near the ball, couldn’t hold possession. Same old mistake of underestimating the opponent. Villareal are a very good side and they had our number.

    Second half, we were a very different team.

  5. good review.. thot we were shit in the first half.. and as u rightly said.. as an arsenal fan thats what I wanted to see from my team..

    though we played well in teh 2nd half we really didnt test their keeper..

    have to play at a high tempo at home.. thats what can take us to the next round..

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