Arsène Wenger was correct when he said after yesterday’s match that virtually everyone had written Arsenal off before the match.
Perhaps it is slightly myopic to suggest that everyone connected to the game, every fan and pundit, is wrong and Wenger himself is right.
Certainly a draw was the best I was hoping for and yet, sadly, at 2-0, I was simply waiting for the implosion to occur, desperate to be proved wrong myself.
Let’s be honest, with half an hour gone, we could have been three or four down, so disorganised were we, so frail and half-hearted.
Only some profligate finishing and the woodwork saved us from embarrassment – but at the moment, we need all the luck we can get.
I was tearing my hair out at some of the performances in that first half. Alex Song was running around like a headless chicken; Mikael Silvestre seemed to think that passing to Villa players was his role in the team and Abou Diaby looked as if he had toked some of Jamaica’s finest as he wandered around, relaxed and unfocused.
Denilson’s goal changed all that, the belief, fragile as usual, came flooding back, and the second goal was poetry in classic Wenger form.
When William Gallas tried to clear the ball when shuffling his opponent was all that was needed, it prompted the sort of siege that a team with Villa’s pedigree was bound to enforce.
Gallas is a world class defender who has only rarely shown how good he can be at Arsenal – and while the problems of this team cannot be blamed on one man, the unrest he has caused this season makes his departure a necessity.
Our defence has been at the root of our problems and replacing a deposed captain on £70,000+ a week has got to make sense for all concerned.
Zat Knight’s late equaliser was all too predictable, sadly, but I’m going to take the positives. It's a point gained at Villa Park as far as I am concerned.
Bacary Sagna, Manuel Almunia and Ramsey all had outstanding games; Denilson grew and we have Adebayor coming back on Sunday.
As Aaron Ramsey showed when he came on, there is some top quality coming through but it needs wise and experienced heads to bind it together.
With Cesc, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo all injured, Wenger has some justification now to sign new players without losing face in his Academy policy. Losing Johann Djourou in the warm-up and Song before half time compounds the mounting challenges Wenger is facing.
Robin van Persie and, in particular, Samir Nasri, need to step up and do what we know they are capable of - all too often the go missing for huge chunks of the game.
Some of the fringe talent such as Carlos Vela and Jack Wilshere need to be given opportunities rather than just watch from the sidelines.
Portsmouth are in trouble and we need to win on Sunday. We need to go on a run of victories to get our confidence back.
At the moment tem confidence is more fragile than Gallas’s temperament but if we can string three or four results together, it may stiffen our resolve.
Bring in a new face or two and all of a sudden, we might find ourselves more optimistic than downhearted.
KEEP BELIEVING, GOONERS.