How did you enjoy that one, Arsenal fans? If ever there was a match where supporters were subjected to experiencing every emotion under the sun, this was it.
On a weekend where Spurs and Manchester United lost and Chelsea were more than likely to lose to Liverpool (they did) a home match against newly promoted Aston Villa seemed like the perfect opportunity to take three points and get a leg up on rivals.
Unai Emery put out a strong lineup which included promising youngster Bukayo Saka.
Great lineup, excited to see the link up between Auba, Pepe & Saka. Come on @Arsenal let’s get the 3pts ⚪️— loca (@antoinelocaa) September 22, 2019
Arsenal looked sluggish throughout the first half and spent a lot of time passing the ball around without really creating any chances. You could sense the tension and frustration starting to build at the Emirates. In fact, I could feel it myself watching it on a stream with no sound while at work.
@Arsenal Pathetic first half from the team I call mine. I'm baffled as to how Aston Villa can be very direct with their play, but Arsenal not. Like lost sheep with no direction at all. Players lack heart and creativity. WHEN ARSENAL ATTACK, it's slow and tedious. STEP UP GUYS!— Striker K Mutirua (@BosS_trikeR) September 22, 2019
It couldn’t get any worse; until it did. In the 20th minute the first #EmeryOut hashtag of the day appeared as Villa’s John McGinn scored.
Arsenal 0 - 1 Aston villa— Abdirahman idle (@Abdirahman_idle) September 22, 2019
The beginning of the end of unai emery as arsenal manager has successfully been activated #emeryout
There was more misery yet to come. With less than five minutes remaining in the half Ainsley Maitland-Niles won the ball, got kicked in the calf, remained injured on the ground and received a red card for his efforts. Arsenal were now down to ten men.
Maitland-Niles clearly winning the ball after a tackle, gets hurt, then getting a red card and carried off the field all while in the midst of losing 1-0 to Aston Villa at home is the most Arsenal thing ever.— Josh D. Manning (@JoshDougManning) September 22, 2019
A miserable first half performance from the Gunners ended with Villa ahead 0-1.
What a terrible first half, Arsenal don’t seem to have any idea what to do.— Graham Cheshire (@graham_cat) September 22, 2019
As the second half began, Emery replaced Saka with defender Calum Chambers. Needless to say this move was not received well by the fans.
Taking off saka for chambers is such a backwards move. Especially when you have both cm's on yellows, knowing that both are more than capable of getting another card.— Laurence Howlett (@GandalfGooner) September 22, 2019
Ridiculous decision from Emery.#AFC
Arsenal picked it up as the match progressed and played with more intensity (why they only do this when they are losing is another problem that needs to be addressed).
Matteo Guendouzi won a penalty in the 58th minute and Nicolas Pepe stepped up to take it. This was a smart decision to help get the Ivorian going. He coolly converted the spot kick and it was now 1-1.
Nicholas Pepe scores his first goal to draw Arsenal level from the spot against Aston Villa at the Emirates. 1-1 now. Game on.— @Agbakpedom (@Dom91204346) September 22, 2019
That good feeling lasted all of one minute as Villa immediately answered to regain the lead.
Pepe scores and then you lot concede. Do you want to kill us today or what.— Uncle Ed. (@UncleEd419) September 22, 2019
To their credit the Gunners kept going and they were eventually rewarded in the 81st minute. As the ball flicked around the Villa box like a pinball, Chambers was there to meet it and the game was level once again.
The momentum had shifted, and you could almost sense that Arsenal might actually go on and win. That they did when Björn Engels brought down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just on the edge of the penalty area. Aubameyang converted and the Gunners hung on for an improbable 3-2 victory.
Once the final whistle mercifully sounded, you could almost hear a collective sigh being let out by Arsenal supporters everywhere.
All arsenal fans need peacemakers after today's game.— Öli-Yad⚽️ (@OliGooner1991) September 22, 2019