Former Republic of Ireland international Tony Cascarino has slated Willian and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for their lack of impact in Arsenal’s loss to Aston Villa.
The Gunners are once again on a downward curve following a 1-0 reverse at Villa Park. They had rallied with five wins and two draws in seven games but have taken one point from a possible nine.
Ollie Watkins’s early strike was enough to condemn the north Londoners to a second straight loss. They started slowly and the hosts should have been further ahead by the time Mikel Arteta’s men woke up.
Arsenal did improve as the second half progressed and missed a couple of decent chances towards the end. Aubameyang replaced Alexandre Lacazette on 59 minutes while Thomas Partey gave way to Willian 15 minutes later.
The hope was that the experienced pair would be able to inspire the visitors to get something from the game. However, they were ineffectual and Cascarino pulled no punches in his assessment.
“These are two top quality players who have done a hell of a lot in football that came on and made no impact at all.
“Aubameyang, I didn’t even know he’d really come on. He’s been far too anonymous this year as a player because he is a player that Mikel Arteta can’t afford for him not to change games and make things happen.”
Arteta rallies the troops
It looked as though an upturn in results might lead to a push for Europe. But that now seems unlikely given the gap to the top teams and Arsenal’s patchy form.
Games against Leeds United, Manchester City and Leicester City follow before the end of the month. Arteta admitted that losing tamely to Villa was a “big blow”.
The Spaniard felt the performances his men have put in during the past two matches should have seen some return. But he will not wallow in self pity and wants to see a reaction.
“The sadness is we just give the opponent the game,” he told the BBC. “But we have to come back. We’ve done it this season and we have to do it again.”