Arsenal’s great run of undefeated games has now come down to earth with a bump after consecutive defeats against Wolves and Aston Villa, meaning that both sides have now done the double over us this season.
It was actually a very even game in the case of total shots on goal, but the big difference was that Arsenal only had three (of 14) on target, while Villa had eight (of 12) heading towards the net.
The Gunners actually had 66% possession, and it would probably have ended 0-0 if not for one moment of madness in the second minute, when the fates conspired against us to give Villa a very early lead.
Poor old Mat Ryan had only played two minutes in an Arsenal shirt when they scored, but the Ozzie was given no chance to stop the deflected shot. As the ex-Brighton stopper said after the game: “Besides the start of the game, we thought we were right in it. We were competing but we were just that little bit slower out of the blocks than they were.
“We got punished for it and at this level, you get punished for the smallest of things. You don’t even need to make a mistake or be off your game to get punished at this level. That happened in the first initial minutes and they made us pay for it. I can’t fault the effort we put in. We were probing and pushing but the ball just wasn’t falling for us at the end. Emi made a couple of blocks and interventions, I tried to play my part at the other end but unfortunately I wasn’t able to contribute to the result. We’ve got to build on it and keep going.”
But Ryan had a solid game all in all, and was very happy to playing for the famous Red & White for the first time. He was asked if he feels that he slotted in well. “I feel like it. Obviously with everything that’s been going on with my circumstances, I just tried to adopt the mentality of focusing on myself and readying myself for the next opportunity, whenever or whether that may come. I think it was probably down to all that, that I was able to come in and have a performance like I did. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help us with the result. It was a deflection and I haven’t watched it back yet, but there wasn’t a lot I could do I don’t think. It felt good to be out there though, I loved being out there. It still hasn’t quite sunk in that it’s my childhood club that I grew up supporting that I’ve just played for. But I’m sure it’ll start to sink in a bit now that I’ve got a moment to reflect on it. I wanted the perfect start with the result but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Considering that Mat only arrived on loan two weeks ago, he was asked if he was surprised to be playing so quickly. He said:” I was just thinking that there’s a greater power in life. Things happen for a reason, even the situation with Bernd. I probably could have pushed myself with some medication to be available for the Wolves game. If I’d have done that and the boss would have selected me, I’d have made my debut there. But when all that happened, in the 75th minute of the Wolves game my hip started to feel quite a lot better! That stuff can happen in football so it’s just about trying to be ready and prepared. I was just thankful to go out there, do my best today and I want to kick on from it now. I want to continue to grow as a person and as a goalkeeper.”
It’s a real shame that we had that moment of madness, or we would now be talking about how Ryan had held off the Villain hordes to save us a point. Hopefully he will have a better day the next time he wears the short….