Five key talking points as Villa suffer disappointment in Arsenal defeat

Aston Villa fell to a 4-2 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday – despite leading twice – as we suffered our third consecutive loss in the Premier League.

While there were real positives to take from the performance in terms of our attacking play at times, the fact is that we’ve now conceded 11 goals in our last three league outings and suffered three straight defeats.

READ MORE: Villa player ratings vs Arsenal: Trio impress but disappointment in defeat

Goals from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho twice put us in a commanding position, but Villa were unable to hold out as defensive mistakes and poor play in our own third ultimately cost us again.

It’s clear that improvements have been made under Emery and we’re playing a better brand of football while having something to build on. However, there is still a long way to go as we now prepare for a winnable run of games in the next month, with Everton, Crystal Palace, West Ham and Bournemouth up next.

Emery clearly frustrated and disappointed

As seen in his post-match interview below, Emery was evidently frustrated and disappointed with the performance, despite accepting that there were positive aspects.

It’s clear from his assessment that he doesn’t feel as though we’re executing his game-plan successfully, and we’re not controlling games over 90 minutes in the way he wants in terms of style of play and approach.

We still have a long way to go it seems to meet his demands, and while his line on Emiliano Martinez will annoyingly become the soundbite from this interview, there are a lot of important, wider points that he makes about what he wants from his players moving forward.

Villa playing with quality and creativity in attack, but defensive troubles remain

As noted above, that’s now 11 goals conceded in our last three league games, and so it’s obvious we’re still not defending well enough to keep things tight at the back.

That ties in with Emery’s point above about how we’re not controlling possession or the tempo of games to put ourselves in a commanding position, and so it’s important we start to get that right and play the way he is demanding while putting a stop to conceding these soft goals.

On the other side of that, some of our attacking play is excellent, particularly in the lead up to our two goals on Saturday. Having created openings in the second half, we lacked a clinical edge in front of goal and so those were big moments in the game that could have changed things.

Watkins continues impressive form

That’s now four goals in four games for Ollie Watkins, who is showing real confidence and ruthlessness in front of goal.

It’s great to see him being decisive more consistently, but the challenge for him is to continue that run and play a bigger role in our build-up play to offer a significant influence in the final third.

While we need to play to his strengths more and control games in midfield to provide better service, Watkins must also demand more of himself to maintain this level now.

McGinn, Cash positive on return to Villa XI

On a more positive note, it was good to see both John McGinn and Matty Cash have a good impact on their return to the starting XI, as they remain key players for us.

It’s a challenge for every player in the squad right now to prove themselves to Emery not only in terms of their general ability, but also their adaptability to his style and principles.

With that in mind, both McGinn and Cash did well on Saturday to fit into that and have certainly staked their respective claims to keep their places in the Villa XI next weekend.

Coutinho gets much-needed boost

It’s been a difficult season for Philippe Coutinho, and so it was both a relief and a delight to see him get on the scoresheet this weekend in what should be a big boost in confidence for him.

After a positive impact off the bench against Man City, he followed it up with a better showing this weekend as he builds his match fitness and influence in the side.

These are smaller wins for the Brazilian as he continues to try and get back to his best, or something near it, and it’s hoped that as he builds some momentum now, he can be a driving force for us between now and the end of the season.

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