The Villa Underground has long advocated that watching Aston Villa should come with a public health warning.
From the depths of despair after a dismal post-lockdown run, the hope after beating Palace and the utter anguish following a late equaliser at Goodison Park.
As supporters, we were loaded onto the rollercoaster once more as Villa did the unthinkable and beat Arsenal 1-0.
Villa were purposeful from the outset against an Arsenal side that would ultimately fail to register a single shot on target.
Guilbert, on before the half hour mark after injury to Elmohamady, looked like he hadn’t sat the best part of 5 months out through injury. If Graham Fenton has been a right back, this was his moment.
McGinn, whilst not at the heights of his pre-injury ability, now resembles a footballer. It couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. With the outstanding Douglas Luiz dictating the tempo of Villa’s play and Hourihane a threat with a dead ball, we could smell blood.
And so it was that from a Hourihane corner, with Mings distracting Aubameyang, the ball found it’s way through to Trezeguet. The Egytian unleashed an unstoppable drive into the Arsenal goal, with the satisfying sound of leather on boot reverberating around an empty Villa Park.
Arsenal weren’t to be denied providing us with a couple of terrifying moments. Indeed, they tested the hearts of every Villa fan watching from behind their sofas.
Aubameyang, largely contained and quiet, did put a dangerous ball across the face of goal. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief to see the overhit cross drift harmlessly to the far side of the penalty area.
Keinan Davis, on for the ineffective Samatta, tested those arteries again. Released after a fine run from Grealish, he could only drag a shot just wide of the post after out-muscling the Arsenal defender. He really should have scored to put the game to bed.
The defibrilator’s were truly required as Arsenal drove a dangerous corner into the box. The ball was headed, with ominous similarity to that of Theo Walcott’s goal last week, beyond the stranded Reina.
As the world held its breath, the ball, with the collective will of thousands of Villa fans, bounced favourably off the upright, back towards the stunned Spaniard. Reina, juggled, dropped and with the help of a a knee, somehow retained the ball on the right side of the line. There was to be no Nylandesque Hawk-Eye debacle here.
The VillaVerse breathed a sigh of relief.
The result on its own is remarkable, but it will be amongst many wonderous occurances if Villa do manage to escape the bottom three on the final day.
With the implosion of Watford and now West Ham are safe, Villa have clawed their way to fourth bottom. There are things that can still go wrong, obviously, but by finally applying ourselves in a gritty and determined manner, we have the best chance of survival yet. It feels like it has come from nowhere.
This weekend will be billed as Survival Sunday. It’s in our hands, but remember, watching Aston Villa comes with a health warning.
Player Ratings: Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal – See how each player rated here.
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