So Arsenal cling to first place â€“ but for how long?
A point was more than we merited yesterday. We were lacklustre, we couldnâ€™t pass, we didnâ€™t create much â€“ in fact, weâ€™ve lost form just at the wrong time.
Mind you, Villa were good. Iâ€™ve not seen a Villa side that strong in some time if Iâ€™m honest. A big, strong side with some excellent outlets up front and on the wing â€“ and they deserved to win.
That we grabbed a draw was down to a barnstorming last five minutes, and who knows, that point could be crucial come May. But if it is to become crucial then we need to re-locate our form, and fast. Iâ€™m not moaning too much, because come on: weâ€™re top, weâ€™ve lost one league game all season and weâ€™ve been playing some excellent football. But at this stage of the season the team that finds its form is the one that wins the league â€“ and our form in the last few games has deserted us. Letâ€™s hope itâ€™s just down the back of the sofa.
The thing that struck me most yesterday was the lack of options in our squad at present. Over in west London, Man U could afford to drop two of their most lethal attacking players, while down in east London the Russians changed 6 players from their last outing â€“ bringing in masses of experience to shake things up.
We just donâ€™t have those options at the moment. To me, some of our first team could do with a game or two off â€“ Fabregas, Adebayor â€“ but we donâ€™t have many players of sufficient form, quality or experience to bring in.
Look at our bench yesterday: Lehmann, Hoyte, Gilberto, Denilson and Bendtner. A good bench, but only one of those is an impact sub â€“ someone who can come on and change a game â€“ and as it happens, he did come on and he did change the game. But would Wenger start with Gilberto or Denilson or Hoyte at the moment and give a breather to some of our other players? I canâ€™t see it. And what of Diaby on the wing? He was patently not match fit yesterday, which didnâ€™t help, but even if he was I remain far from convinced that he is a wing player.
As Arseblogger says this morning, the key thing now is getting van Persie and Rosicky back. We desperately need their quality and matchwinningness (my word).
Onto Milan on Tuesday, and what better place to get back to winning ways? Slot a few goals in early and the game is ours.
Football is so simple in my head.