It may be time for PL to re-think the substitutions he makes. This isn’t a criticism, or simply being wise after the event, I for one, was believing a change was needs at the Emirates well before he made the change.
In fact three of us were debating who should come off for Bent (we actually had no idea who was on the bench thanks to FOX not giving line ups). We all felt Zogs, Gabby, Beast and Andreas were all performing really well, but we were a goal down and the team looked tired. N’Zogbia and Weimann were looking the most exhausted and both had sloppily given the ball away twice each in recent minutes, so it was unanimous! Weimann should be sacrificed. Then the Austrian popped up and scored to get us all laughing at ourselves.
Then, the sub was made. It wasn’t Bent, but that was okay because we no longer needed a goal. But, instead it was Dawkins. This lad has only made one appearance for us, against West Ham and he looked decent, going down the left wing. So, if Gabby was the one going off, then this sub would have made sense. But, for N’Zogbia a straight swap, meant he was playing just off Benteke in a midfield role. A huge responsibility. One he could not live up to and a big reason Villa failed to attack again until Arsenal re-took the lead. Also, Charles has to be aggrieved that he keeps being the one taken off when he is playing well. At Albion, he was our best threat and Albion equalized after he was subbed, against west Ham he left us with a 2 goal lead, which was subsequently cut in half. Everton was another example. Sylla replaced him. It was probably the right move by the book, but at this point it might be better to toss the book out.
Slight changes in the game are needed however & PL does not seem to react to it well. Bennett was doing a stellar job with Walcott, not an easy task, while Gabby was forcing Jenkinson to not attack as much as he would like. When, Wenger took Jenkinson off, wouldn’t it have been better to push Dawkins on the left where Gabby was and bring Gabby inside where Zogs was?
Also with 5 minutes to go and 1 sub left needing a goal, it should have been time to throw on Bent or Bowery for more height with Lowton or Bennett to come off. Goal difference is no longer on our side. We won nothing in the air.
Staying up still looks very possible, but Vila has to play as well as they did for 90 minutes as they have in recent games against Everton and Arsenal. We have to concede that we won’t get points off Man Utd, City or Chelsea. Also, Liverpool have too many horses for us and it will be asking a lot to repeat our Anfield achievement, so barring any shocks in those games it leaves a bunch of games against fellow tail enders like Fulham, Sunderland, Norwich, Reading and QPR also the dull Stoke.
If we can snatch draws away and win the home games we CAN stay up as high as 16th. It is a big if of course as Villa usually don’t go by form books and can come up with a win against Man City and losses against Reading and QPR. This would not surprise any fan.
It doesn’t look good, but Villa can do it.