Arsenal 1-2 Aston Villa
Another addition to the litany of listless displays at the Emirates this season. The home campaign ends in defeat.
Vermaelen returned but could do little about the ineptitude of one of Wenger's worst ever signings. Squillaci watched the ball sail over his head, left for dead by Darren Bent, who chested the ball down and volleyed it over Szczesny and into the net. 0-1.
Arsenal were 2 down inside fifteen minutes. Ashley Young received the ball, got a bit of extra time on it as Vermaelen slipped, and played in Bent, running off a static Sagna. Bent slipped the ball through the keeper's legs.
Arsenal had about eighty minutes to get back in it but whatever atmosphere there might have been in the ground became poisoned and the confidence of the players had plummeted still further. The deficiencies of the defence pile pressure on the attack, and an attack lacking both Nasri and Fabregas struggled to create. There were sporadic spells of danger but Arshavin and Walcott were both wretched and so the responsibility to score had to be shouldered again by Van Persie, who cracked a shot off the post after some typically inventive individual play.
When Wilshere chipped a lovely ball through to Ramsey, the Welshman chested down and lined up a shot, but Richard Dunne slid back and did enough, perhaps illegally, to stop him from finishing. No penalty the decision.
Half time, Squillaci replaced by Chamakh, with Song dropping back to partner Vermaelen for the remainder. At last, a return to something like a 4-4-2, although Van Persie frequently dropped deep. There were more bodies in the box when Arsenal attacked, but they still struggled to make the pressure tell. Song was having one of his off days (complacency?) and nearly let Bent in for a hat trick goal by miscontrolling what should have been a harmless Villa pass.
Eventually, Chamakh found the net with a close range header; it was disallowed for what the referee saw as a push by the Moroccan. Already booked, Petrov should have seen red for a late tackle.
Late on, Van Persie scored from close range after a bit of a scramble. Not enough. Bendtner had replaced Arshavin on the left wing and tried his best but it is pretty pathetic watching a glorified target man plod along the touchline and then be told that this is a team that has lofty ambitions.
The final whistle was greeted by a mix of Villa cheers and Gooner boos and the sheepish looking Arsenal players, including Fabregas, embarked on a lap of dishonour around the half empty ground. Will the captain play for Arsenal again? You couldn't blame him for wanting out.
Now, amazingly, if Manchester City win their final two games, Arsenal will finish in 4th and have to play the qualifying round of the Champions League. The collapse continues- will it be arrested next season?