Arsenal have given up on their hopes of qualifying for Europe through their league position today, going away as 1-0 losers from Villa Park.
The Arsenal boss rung the changes for today’s tie with Aston Villa, despite the knowledge that anything but a win would mean their only hopes of qualifying for the Europa League would be by winning the FA Cup.
Granit Xhaka was rested for the first time since returning to fitness after the break, while Shkodran Mustafi also missed his first fixtures since the resumption, although his was down to injury.
The biggest question mark was always going to come from our opponents however, with Watford having lost earlier on against Manchester City the door had been opened for Villa to escape the drop-zone with a win, and their reaction to the news was always going to be exciting to see.
The Villains definitely stepped up to the plate, and came out with a point to prove, as well as their Premier League lives to save.
In the first half, the two sides mostly cancelled each other out, although the better chances were all coming to the hosts, and they eventually found the opening goal.
The only goal of the half came from a Villa corner, where our defender has managed to knock the ball clear of one attacker, only to drop to Trezeguet in the middle of the box to fire into the bottom corner.
This proved to be the best goalscoring opportunity for either side in the opening hour, before our side really started to pile on the pressure.
We brought on Kieran Tierney for David Luiz as we began to really turn the screw on Villa, but just as we were looking destined to equalise, we were hit on the counter, with Jack Grealish powering up the pitch before putting in the perfect through ball, only for Keenan Davis to slide it past the far post.
This scare really took away a lot of the impetus that we had been building up, and while we appeared to have equalised from our own corner when Nketiah headed onto the far post, only to bounce comfortably to Pepe Reina, we didn’t really deserve any form of result after the performance.
The only positive we can take from the result, is that we can rest our first-team at the weekend before the FA Cup final on August 1.
Did Arsenal deserve a result from the tie? Do Aston Villa deserve credit for their performance? Do we need to analyse our performance further or move on and concentrate on Chelsea?