View: Aston Villa rash decision-making in injury time v Arsenal will frustrate Unai Emery
Unai Emery cut a frustrated figure after the full-time whistle as his Aston Villa side conceded twice in injury time against Arsenal to fall to a second consecutive 4-2 defeat at Villa Park.
There was so much to like about the way Villa set up against Mikel Arteta’s side on Saturday (18 February), with Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho running the show for large portions of the opening hour – but eventually, old habits crept back into Villa’s game.
The blueprint for Emery’s side going forward was highlighted by the brilliant second goal of Coutinho. Starting at the feet of Emi Martinez, the Villa Park crowd witnessed a sweeping passing move that progressed all the into Aaron Ramsdale’s net within 15 seconds through a combination of intricate passes.
And although the Spanish manager was pleased with the intent to play out from the back in the early stages of the match, he was heavily critical of his team for failing to continue this for the full 90 minutes.
As the board went for an additional six minutes of added time, and with the score still at 2-2, Villa suddenly pressed the panic button and resorted to long ball after long ball – which eventually proved their undoing.
It was French midfielder Bouboucar Kamara whose actions eventually resulted in Jorginho’s decisive goal. After taking on possession just outside his box, the 23-year-old hoofed the ball forward instead of staying calm and finding an alternative option.
Seven passes and 30 seconds later, Arsenal had taken the lead.
What was to come from Martinez was even more bizarre. “I don’t like it”, Emery vented in his post-match interview at the decision of Villa’s keeper to go up for a late corner, to which Arsenal countered and Gabriel Martinelli was left with the simplest of tap-ins into an empty net.
The Villa boss is quite right in his assessment. Although it was late in stoppage time, it probably wasn’t even the last play of the game. Villa could quite easily have won another corner or carved open another chance before the final whistle was blown, and throwing himself into the action was the action of a scrambled brain.
Within living memory, Allison remains the only keeper to have scored directly from a corner in the dying moments of a match, and Martinez’s decision was a meek surrender to an otherwise classic Premier League encounter.
Despite showing signs of progress against Arsenal and going toe-to-toe for 93 minutes, the final 300 seconds of the encounter will sit painfully at the forefront of Emery’s mind.
In other Aston Villa news, the club face competition from Barcelona to secure the signing of a striker at the end of the season.