The Arsenal captain came off the bench to give the Gunners more conviction and penetration after a blistering early exchange between the two clubs.
It may have been slightly swept under the rug after the masterful cameo provided by the Arsenal skipper but before Cesc Fábregas’ inspirational display, it was Abou Diaby who was the key man. The Frenchman, although lacking his captain’s creativity, linked play up effectively and looked to drive the team forward. His fine solo effort in added time was enough to remind those high on Cesc Fábregas ecstasy, of his existence.
Diaby helped fulfill his manager’s order before the start of the game, Arsène Wenger telling his side to attack with more dynamism and for a good thirty-five minutes, the home side did just that, attacking with great tempo. The only low point was the ease in which the Villa defend were able to deny Arsenal the ability to get behind or it just may have been Arsenal’s reluctance to do so. A physical presence to complement Andrey Arshavin is still a miss to give the side a bit more variety and unpredictability, nevertheless it was still a solid team performance.
It was a pulsating opening exchange with Arsenal doing most of the thrusting and Villa counter-thrusting as they looked to catch Arsenal on the break. The best defence in the league before the game remained organised and looked to pressure from the front, starting with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey, the latter of whom won plenty of challenges. It was part of the reason why their sheet remained unblemished for two-thirds of the game, that until Cesc Fábregas was introduced close to the hour mark for Denilson who suffered a slight occurrence of a back injury. Theo Walcott helped stretch play and open up the right hand side where most of Arsenal’s play came from.
The first goal came from a sumptuous free-kick as Fábregas, picking up the ball in the striker’s position and luring a foul from Richard Dunne, realised the opportunity to take the shot as quickly as possible to send Brad Freidel scrambling. He second displayed just how good his composure is, bursting forward from a rapid break to meet Walcott’s pass and curl round the ‘keeper. The goal to effectively assure Arsenal of the points came at a cost, as he picked up a hamstring injury, the time on the sidelines still unknown.
Such was Arsenal’s dominance in attack and defence, Stilian Petrov, normally Aston Villa’s most influential played had only 18 passes of the ball, half of what he normal accumulates in a game and around half coming after Fábregas’ introduction where they were required to chase the game.
Abou Diaby evoked memories of another Arsenal captain with a powerful run and finish for the second game running but it was difficult to shift away from Fábregas’ impact on the match. He showed just why Barcelona will want him in his squad; more penetrative than Xavi although probably a lesser dictator, Fábregas will add a new dimension to any side as he did here at the Emirates.
Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa: Fabregas 65, 81, Diaby 90
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traoré; Denílson (Fábregas, 57; Ramsey, 83), Song, Diaby; Nasri, Arshavin, Eduardo (Walcott, 63). Subs not used: Vela, Silvestre, Fabianski, Eboué
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel, L Young (Delph, 75), Cuéllar, Dunne, Warnock; A Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing; Agbonlahor, Heskey (Carew, 62). Subs not used: Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Guzan, Beye, Collins
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Aston Villa|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||5|