The Gunners looked to have recovered from their poor form and their improved results had re-ignited their chances of finishing in the top four.
But as Mikel Arteta’s side walked off Villa Park on Saturday, their hopes of making the top four were all but over. Arsenal failed to come to the party and deservedly lost 1-0 to Dean Smith’s side.
A poor start to the game saw Aston Villa take the lead with just under two minutes played. A defensive mix-up between Cedric Soares and Gabriel Magalhaes allowed Bertrand Traore to steal in and put a cross into the box.
The winger’s ball was met by Ollie Watkins, whose deflected effort squeezed past Arsenal’s debutant goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Although the Gunners tried to find a way back into the game, their labor was in vain as Aston Villa held firm to walk away with all three points.
A bad day at the office for Arsenal
Arsenal haven’t been themselves in the last two weeks, culminating in a series of bad results. Saturday’s defeat against Aston Villa, though, was self-inflicted.
“I’m extremely disappointed to lose and the way we lost it. We were the better team,” Arteta said in the aftermath of the game, as quoted by Goal.
“We controlled every department but we gave them the ball. We gave them another three big chances. Then when we had to score the goal, we didn’t find the right pass or the right shot.
“They were better in the boxes and that’s how you win games. We created enough opportunities. We didn’t score, we cannot win the game.”
The Gunners started the game in the worst possible way and were made to pay for their lethargy. For a side chasing Champions League qualification, their attitude to games should be better.
Arsenal’s top four hopes in the balance
Arteta is right to be worried about Arsenal’s recent form. They had been on an impressive run after Boxing Day but the last two weeks have been quite disappointing.
The Gunners have now won just once in their last five games in all competitions. Such form is definitely not good enough to earn them a top four finish.
Saturday’s defeat against Aston Villa has left Arsenal languishing on 10th position in the Premier League. They are also nine points behind Liverpool, who occupy fourth place in the table.
There are about five teams battling to finish in the top four this season and Arsenal’s current form does not suggest they can cope with the rigors of the race.