Arsenal started the Premier League season with a terrible 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa. Aside from an atrocious performance from the referee, the team could not finish their chances and in the end, suffered the consequences. This loss was highlighted by chants and boos directed at manager Arsene Wenger regarding a lack of transfer activity. This is what you call a worst case scenario for Arsenal to kick off the season.
An early goal by Olivier Giroud had the Emirates Stadium rocking and filled with confidence. However, a questionable penalty call quickly deflated that confidence as Christian Benteke got his first of two goals from the spot on the day. The midfield seemed to be moving the ball well but again, a lack of finishing doomed the Gunners in the end.
This game was marred by an awful referee performance. The first penalty was given after Gabby Agbongalahor cut through the Arsenal defense and was taken down by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The ball fell to a Villa player who had a shot on goal with no goalie, but failed to hit the target. The referee waited until after the chance had been squandered to give the penalty. The second penalty, and Laurent Koscielny’s first of two bogus yellow cards, was given after a clean tackle by the defender in the box. The first foul was indeed a penalty, but why wait until after the chance was taken? Would he have given the penalty had the player made the shot? The second penalty was just a flat out bad call.
The most contentious call of the day came when Koscielny received his second yellow for not even touching a Villa player. There were plenty of bad calls today, but this one was by far the worst. Reduced to 10 men and without their best defender, Arsenal pushed forward for an equalizer, but was punished for sending so many players forward. After a corner kick was cleared, Villa countered and made it 3-1 and sent most Arsenal fans heading for the exit wondering what could have been had the summer seen more signings.
Arsenal will be in panic mode now, and with Koscielny suspended for the next league game, they must hit the transfer market before it closes. Kieran Gibbs had to be subbed in the first half after receiving a gash above his eye that wouldn’t stop bleeding. This doesn’t appear to be a long-term injury, but regardless, more defenders are needed.
It was a rough day for the team and fans alike, and both will reflect on the game and contemplate what changes need to be made going forward. Arsenal must sign players before the window closes on Sept. second. If they fail to do this, Wenger’s position will be in jeopardy, and the team could get off to a worse start than last year.