Aston Villa star makes concerning claim as ‘cheating’ Arsenal player slammed
Mini match report and player ratings
It was a three-minute horror show which cost Aston Villa dearly against 10-man Arsenal at the Emirates, writes Ashley Preece.
Villa were brilliant in the first half and led through John McGinn, the Scot scoring his second in north London to add to the one scored at Spurs.
Arsenal, who had Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off after 41, then battled back and equalised through a Pepe spot-kick after Jon Moss deemed Bjorn Engels to have bundled Matteo Guendouzi over inside the box. The Ivorian made no mistake but, just 60 seconds later, Wesley poked Villa back in front thanks to an assist by Jack Grealish.
The match, though, was turned on its head as Tyrone Mings’s mistake let Arsenal back in, Callum Chambers pouncing to lift the ball over Heaton with nine minutes on the clock. With the home crowd rampant, Engels then tripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before the star striker fired in his sixth goal of the season to send a curling free-kick into the far corner past a stranded Heaton.
Dean Smith has explained his decision to leave Douglas Luiz out of Aston Villa’s squad at Arsenal was purely tactical.
Eyebrows were raised when Sunday’s team-sheet was revealed and the midfielder, a summer signing from Manchester City, was nowhere to be seen.
But with Smith bringing Trezeguet back into the side for Jota, the Villa head coach felt he needed the right balance on the bench with Luiz consequently left out.
“I was pleased with Marvelous’ (Nakamba) performance against West Ham United and I just felt I didn’t need three midfielders on the bench, I needed Keinan Davis and Jota on there as well. Two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards.”
Savage involved in astonishing Grealish debate
Robbie Savage was involved in an astonishing debate with an Aston Villa fan who labelled Jack Grealish a ‘luxury player we can’t afford at the moment’.
In words that have probably never been used before by a Villa supporter to describe Grealish, the fan claimed the midfielder has been ‘exposed in the Premier League’.
Savage was left open-mouthed at points as the fan discussed Grealish, who has been Villa’s best player in recent years.
The 24-year-old, who helped his boyhood club to promotion last season with a string of superb performances, also set up Wesley’s goal in Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal, which Savage was quick to point out.
Here’s the full back and forth transcript of what was said on BBC 5 Live Sport:
Villa’s Tyrone Mings claims ‘something needs to change’ as mistakes punished Smith’s side yet again.
Speaking after the game, Mings said: “We were good at times but it feels like when we go ahead there is desperation to hold onto the lead rather than going and getting another goal and really being ruthless.
“I don’t know what it is at the moment but something needs to change, especially when we go either ahead or have a man advantage. It seems to have the opposite effect.
“I don’t know what it is at the moment but something needs to change. Maybe it’s a mentality thing. Maybe we need to work on certain things. We’re professional footballers who have played in the Premier League.”
Villa fans have slammed Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos after spotting what he did in the clash at The Emirates.
The Greece international was battling with Wesley for the ball in the second-half and won a free-kick. But what Sokratis did next has been roundly criticised by Villa supporters.
A clip shared hundreds of times on social media shows the centre-back grappling Wesley with his head between the Villa striker’s legs.
Sokratis shoves his head towards the Brazilian and falls flat on his back holding his face, feigning an injury. Wesley clearly knows very little about it and holds his arms outstretched towards the assistant referee in disbelief.
One of Sokratis’ Arsenal team-mates is then briefly pictured gesturing towards the referee, presumably trying to get the officials to punish Wesley.
The 22-year-old quite rightly escaped a card and Villa fans think that it was Sokratis who deserved to be penalised.
Grealish’s England chances
The wait for Jack Grealish’s England call-up goes on, but Gareth Southgate is still keeping an eye out.
His Villa teammates Tyrone Mings and Tom Heaton were both included in Southgate’s latest squad, although both were unused subs – and Grealish is confident he will join them soon.
“I’m English, I was born in England,” he told The Sun. The other week when Tyrone got called up, the manager just said to me, ‘I’ve been asked to pass on a message that you’re still being looked at, they’re going to keep monitoring your progress’.
“At the start of the season, I’ve shown a bit of stuff — but I’m nowhere near what I know I can produce.
“I was speaking to John [Terry] the other day and he was saying that even when he played, it always took him five or six games to get into the swing of things.”