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November 24, 2012
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 34607
Thanks for joining us for the live commentary of Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal at Villa Park. Stick with Goal.com for more match reaction and to find out about all of the day's other big games. Goodbye for now.
So, what have we learnt tonight? Well, Villa have show they can defend resolutely for 90 minutes, and Arsenal have perhaps just shown why they will be very unlikely to challenge for the Premier League title this season. They're missing the match-winning quality of Robin van Persie, and the January transfer window can't come soon enough for some Gunners fans.
The game finishes 0-0, with Aston Villa climbing out of the relegation zone as Arsenal remain stuck in sixth place. Arsene Wenger was fuming at the final whistle, understandably frustrated by a listless display from the Gunners - but Paul Lambert's side have kept a clean sheet after letting in eight in the last two games, so he'll be happy with this result.
90' + 3'
Wow - the substitute Coquelin has a golden opportunity to cross from the byline in the area, but shanks the ball high and out for a goal kick. Terrible waste...and that's it!
90' + 1'
Gibbs comes in at the back post to try and head the winner, but Lichaj rises well to clear. Offside is given moments later, and Villa survive. It's interesting that they're inviting Arsenal on to them this late on - surely they could also be going for the points?
Three minutes left here, and Arshavin is almost through - but the ball is hacked away. Arsenal are pushing for the winner here.
A minute plus injury time left to play - will we see a goal tonight? It's fairly unlikely given the evidence from Villa Park, but surely Paul Lambert would be delighted with a point and a clean sheet after disappointing results against Manchester United and Manchester City.
Ciaran Clark saves the day for Villa! Arshavin delivers a delicious cross with Gervinho ready to tap in from a couple of yards out, but the 23-year-old stretches and toes the ball out for a corner. Superb work from the Republic of Ireland defender.
Will Arsenal have to settle for sixth place tonight? Gibbs crosses and it looks as though Giroud may finish on the volley, but the ball is just too far in front of him and flies agonisingly away from the France forward.
Benteke is in the mood to grab all three points, using his power and pace to drive at goal, but can only win a corner. Great work from the striker, who has been a good signing for the Villains.
Arshavin has a little over 10 minutes to nab a winner for the visitors - can the Russian turn on the style in a match lacking real moments of quality?
Holman hits the bar! He's been on less than 15 minutes but the midfielder drives a brilliant effort at goal from 25 yards which cracks off the woodwork - and replays show Szczesny got fingertips to it. A brilliant save from the keeper there, he's kept his side in this game with that stop.
Yet again Ramsey goes close, slipping as he fires in a shot from 22 yards that skids a yard wide of Guzan's post. The young midfielder has been in decent form today, but you've got to feel if Arsenal want to win trophies, they'll need players who could have put away some of the chances he has been presented with today.
A free kick comes in from the left and Benteke rises to head at goal, but it's straight at Szczesny and Arsenal can breathe again.
Close for the hosts! Benteke crosses and Koscielny has to improvise with a back-heel to prevent Weimann from latching onto the ball and being left with a simple finish from six yards.
Can the Ivory Coast forward deliver a much-needed goal for the visitors? Arsenal have a corner here, so we may find out shortly.
Podolski comes off for Gervinho - the German striker has started 13 Premier League games, and been substituted in every one of them. Wonder how he feels about that...
A snap shot by Agbonlahor is saved well by Szczesny. The Villa forward should have done better as his drive was straight at the keeper, but the Poland international held on to the ball well
Cazorla's getting frustrated for the Gunners, looking for passes that aren't really there and looking a shadow of the player who destroyed Spurs 5-2 a week ago.
It's getting better now as Benteke almost glances a header at goal from six yards, but cant quite make connection with the cross. Arsenal break forward, then Villa once more - we've almost got a game on our hands!
K. El Ahmadi
Ramsey volleys over from six yards! A corner was flicked on and eventually found the Welshman at the back post, but he was always on the stretch and could only hit it over the bar while unmarked. A definite chance for the visitors.
They can't, but they retain possession and Szczesny almost has trouble with a cross from the right, slightly misjudging it. The keepers have to be confident in conditions like these, and he grasped the ball gratefully after readjusting his position.
More pressure as Villa will have a third corner in a row here. Can they open up the scoring with this period of pressure?
Podolski loses possession in his own half and Benteke strikes from 25 yards, but his shot is deflected and the ball loops over Szczesny's net. The home crowd are getting louder here.
Ramsey goes close again here. Giroud lays off the ball delicately to Oxlade-Chamberlian on the right, and the winger drives down the flank and finds the former Wales captains run - but the 21-year-old can't squeeze the ball into the net from five yards, and it's out for a goal kick. Lovely move from the Gunners.
Bannan doesn't shoot, instead trying a clever ball to the back post which is just too far for his team mate. Nice idea, but not nice enough execution from the dead ball specialist.
Agbonlahor wins a free kick 35 yards out - will Bannan test Szczesny's reactions in the weather here...
Wenger looks positively furious on the touchline as his team waste possession yet again. How long will it be before the Frenchman introduces new faces - and will Wilshere get the nod after scoring against Montpellier in midweek?
Arsenal break forward here but as Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to collect a cross-field pass, it skips up off the surface and out of play off the youngster. This weather really is unpredictable, and the game is suffering - but it could make it interesting for the keepers further down the line.
Now Lukas Podolski is free on the left and whips in a cross, but it's desperately poor as he only finds the Villa keeper with team mates streaming forward in support. The German needs to do better from there.
Close for Cazorla here as he fizzes an effort just wide from 19 yards. El Ahmadi lost out to Oxlade-Chamberlain in the Arsenal half, and the winger exchanged passes with Cazorla before the Spaniard twisted and freed himself to shoot. It was a decent effort, but he will be disappointed to not at least test Guzan from that distance.
We're back underway and Villa look to attack early, with Agbonlahor eager to battle for the ball and carry it forward. He could be key in this second 45 minutes for the hosts.
Can anybody from the subs' benches change the game? Gervinho is lurking for the visitors, and the forgotten man Andriy Arshavin may have something to prove before an inevitable move in January.
Looking back at Weimann's disallowed strike, Lee Mason's assistant was correct to flag for offside against the Villa midfielder. He got two goals against Manchester United, and is finding good positions today - it's just a shame that position was a yard ahead of the Gunners' defence.
That's half time, and we're goalless at Villa Park. Neither side has looked particularly sharp, and the supporters deserve better. Fans at the ground - and anywhere else to be honest - will be hoping for better after the break.
One minute of injury time - both managers will want to get their players in and have a shout at them. Lambert will be more pleased than Wenger, but Arsenal have come back into the game and look more dangerous now.
Koscielny misses from six yards! Giroud does well on the left and screws in a cross along the floor to the edge of the six-yard box. A Villa defender slips and it should be 1-0 to the visitors, but the Arsenal defender gets the finish horribly wrong and somehow skies the effort. Woeful effort.
Now it is Gibbs' turn to flash a cross all the way over and out to the opposite flank. Giroud can't do anything if he keeps getting service like this.
The game is opening up here, and both sides are getting frustrated with each other. Arsenal win a free kick for an off-the-ball incident, which Arteta whips in - but he can't find anybody. Poor from the Spaniard.
The ball's in the net! But Weimann has been flagged offside after finishing for the hosts. Villa fans aren't happy, but the decision looked to be a correct one. Szczesny will be relieved.
But hang on, the weather has a big impact here! Szczesny comes racing out for the ball, collects it, but slides to the floor under pressure from Benteke, and handles outside the area. Free kick to Villa...
Arsenal are looking more confident in forward positions and are working the flanks through Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain, but can't quite break through. Cazorla lines up an effort from 25 yards but the shot is well blocked. That's just about the most excitement we've had so far here.
Both sides are coming into the game here, but in truth it's been a poor match so far. The crowd is quiet and they need a bit of inspiration to liven them up on an evening like this.
Per Mertesacker has hurt his shoulder - the big German should be fine to continue, but it'll be interesting to see how he copes with aerial battles if he's carrying an injury.
Ramsey goes close for Arsenal! The Wales international turns well inside the box after a flurry of activity at the near post following a low cross, but his low drive is well stopped by Guzan, who improvises with his feet to turn the ball away from goal.
Arsenal threaten for the first time and Brad Guzan is out quickly to smother the ball before Giroud can get to it six yards out. Villa have started brightly, but will not want to throw away their hard work so far with a cheap goal.
Carl Jenkinson is playing in place of Bacary Sagna today but his touch has been poor so far. He shanked a cross out of play a few minutes ago, and lost possession cheaply after being fed by Olivier Giroud just now. He'll need to take more care or he may be replaced at half time.
Yellow Card K. El Ahmadi
El Ahmadi is booked for diving as Santi Cazorla goes in for a challenge. A silly thing for the midfielder to do after such a bright opening, and he'll have to be careful for the next 70 minutes. Really foolish.
As we hit the 19th minute, the home fans rise in unison to applaud and chant the name of their captain Stiliyan Petrov, who is currently absent with leukemia. A lovely gesture there for the No.19.
Gibbs does well to get his head to a clever through-ball from Bannan, but Villa have another corner. Benteke leaps highest and gets his head to it from eight yards, but the ball loops over.
A slight scramble in the box as El Ahmadi whips in a cross after winning the ball and playing a one-two Agbonlahor, and the Gunners can't get the ball clear for a while before finally hoofing it away. Wenger's players haven't really settled yet.
The hosts are the brighter of the two sides at the moment, spraying the ball to the flanks confidently. They're keeping the ball well, but can they turn their early play into actual chances on goal?
The first real chance for Villa here, as Benteke whips in a cross-shot from the left which Szczesny does well to beat away for a corner. Not sure whether the forward meant that, but it'll do for now. The corner comes to nothing.
Bannan whips in an inviting delivery, but it's too high for the hosts and swings out for a goal kick. It's a decent start from Villa though, who are in desperate need of some points.
Szczesny is out quickly to block a promising through-ball, and now Ramsey gives away a cheap free kick out on the right. How costly could this be?
Neither side has really got any good passing moves going yet - the ball is slipping away on the slick pitch, but it may suit Arsenal as the game progresses.
And Koscielny follows that up with an inch-perfect sliding tackle on the English forward - great stuff early on as both sides are up for a battle.
Agbonlahor goes in hard on Koscielny as the defender clears it - we could have a fiery tie on our hands here...
The rain is tumbling down - if there was ever a good day for Paul Lambert to be serving a one-match touchline ban, then this is it. He's in the stands after making comments following the defeat to Man City.
We're off at Villa Park - Arsenal are pressing high up the pitch here, and it'll be interesting to see how their formation develops, particularly without Wilshere dictating the play in the middle.
The teams are out and we're almost ready to go here as they shake hands on a cold night in Birmingham. This should be a really entertaining game, although Villa fans will want to avoid a repeat of their last game - a 5-0 drubbing at champions Manchester City.
The Gunners have found some form with good wins against Montpellier and Tottenham, but have conceded 14 goals in just six games, so there should almost certainly be chances for the home side this evening.
The last time Villa managed a home win against Arsenal in the Premier League was in 1998 - can they turn around that abysmal record today?
Darren Bent has lost his fitness battle for the hosts, who start with Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor in the forward positions.
So, the big news is that Jack Wilshere only gets a spot on the bench for the visitors, while in-form Theo Walcott misses out completely.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Mannone, Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gervinho.
The team news is in... Aston VIlla: Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Bannan, Weimann; Agbonlahor, Benteke. Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of Aston Villa - Arsenal at Villa Park. A point or more would see Paul Lambert's side climb out of the relegation zone, but Arsene Wenger will be wanting his side to claim fifth place with a win after seeing Everton slip to a late draw against Norwich.
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