Watching the Gunners playing Aston Villa this weekend was watching a movie held together by a bad editing job. It did not make sense. They all but disappeared in the second half and looked like surrendering the game to the Villans a number of times. This after a vintage first half filled with crisp passes and delightful overlapping runs. Even though Craig Gardner put Villa up first, it looked like any moment the Gunners would equalize and go ahead which they did through a Flamini cannon and Adebayor's header. Villa looked in danger of being blown out. The second half proved otherwise.
Lassana Diarra is not the answer. Wenger should have started Gilberto whose limited minutes is leading to transfer rumours this winter. I know that we trumpet the depth the central midfielder role that Arsenal has but Diarra cannot be mistaken for a Fabregas. In the second half with the Villans swarming it was increasingly difficult for Diarra to hold the ball and pass accurately. Diarra's woeful play seems to have afflicted the Gunners and the second half drifted into a series of aimless and misdirected passes. Wenger's choice of Diarra was probably to match Villa's tempo and in the first half it seems to have worked because the Villans themselves were subpar. A fact that the Gunners woke up to in the second half and were found seriously lacking. Sagna had his hands full with Young's quick pace and swerving service into the goal area. Clichy had to contend with Gabriel Agbonlahor.
Starting Gilberto would have helped organize the backfield with better retention of the ball and his experience would have helped dealing with the surging Villans in the second half. He is also very good at losing his marker and scoring goals in set pieces. Diarra on the occasions he had a shot at goal made a mess of it. Arsenal steadied themselves somewhat after Gilberto was introduced but for many minutes they looked like they were on the ropes. Martin O'Neill had every reason to look frustrated and Wenger to look concerned. With injury concerns, the Gunners need to put their best unit available, and Wenger will be better served with Gilberto in the line up.