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Furious fans turn on Wenger after third winless game in Premier League

Sunday, 25 November 2012 - 12:29pm IST | Place: Villa Park | Agency: The Sunday Telegraph
Wenger endured chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' and 'we want our Arsenal back' from the travelling supporters in the final five minutes, after a third Premier League away game without a win.

Paul Lambert must have been wishing he had been hit with a one-match stadium ban after this dismal stalemate, but Arsene Wenger will remember this encounter for more unpalatable reasons. Wenger endured chants of "you don't know what you're doing" and "we want our Arsenal back" from the travelling supporters in the final five minutes, after a third Premier League away game without a win.

Arsenal have not lost here since December 1998 but Wenger was subjected to criticism after bringing on Francis Coquelin for Olivier Giroud late on, with his refusal to bring on Jack Wilshere also frustrating the 3,000 fans sitting in the Doug Ellis Stand.

Villa may still yet to find a way to beat Wenger on their own turf but a point was enough to lift them out of the relegation zone ahead of Reading, who they entertain on Tuesday night.

Lambert was forced to watch the game from the stands after an Football Association charge and at least ended an unforgiving sequence of fixtures with something to build on.

Wenger guided Arsenal into the last 16 of the Champions League for the 13th year in a row on Wednesday night and with pounds 13?million striker Olivier Giroud finding his feet, the doom and gloom merchants had been silenced.

Villa are a team in transition and Lambert has consistently argued the club will not experience a third successive relegation scrap but his insistence that he hasn't got a problem with Darren Bent is rather more difficult to believe.

Bent is fit and has trained all week after an ankle injury but was not even named in the squad here, with forward Jordan Bowery — who was playing his football for Chesterfield in League Two at the start of the season — ahead of him on the bench. Villa's record signing is so out in the cold he will need treatment for frostbite.

Lambert watched a dreadful first-half high up in the stands as torrential rain rendered enterprising football virtually impossible.

Arsenal eventually settled and Aaron Ramsey almost punctured the home team's confidence with a low shot that took a deflection off Enda Stevens, but Brad Guzan saved well with his legs. Szczesny gave the visitors a nervy moment eight minutes before the break when, under pressure from Gabriel Agbonlahor, he appeared to handle the ball outside the area, though there was little he could do to prevent himself from sliding on the rain-soaked turf. From Barry Bannan's free kick, Weimann eventually converted from close range but was flagged offside.

Laurent Koscielny should have ended the half by giving Arsenal the lead but somehow scooped the ball over from six yards, a finish that summed up an abysmal opening 45 minutes.

Would the second period produce an improvement? Just about. Santi Cazorla sent a 20-yard shot swirling wide but it was not long until Arsenal's supporters were chanting for the introduction of Wilshere from the bench.

Villa were forced into making a change of their own six minutes in when Ron Vlaar limped off, ensuring the home defence gained an even younger average age. But Lambert's kids still attempted to maintain the pressure. Brett Holman, a substitute, came closest to shattering the tedium 12 minutes from time when his 20-yard effort was tipped onto the crossbar by the Arsenal goalkeeper.

This game, however, will not linger long in the memory, though Wenger's treatment from his own fans will be the main talking point.

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar (Lichaj 51), Clark, Stevens; Bannan, Westwood; Weimann (Albrighton 90), El Ahmadi (Holman 63), Agbonlahor; Benteke. Subs: Given, Ireland, Delph, Bowery. Booked: El Ahmadi.

Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs; Arteta, Ramsey; Podolski (Gervinho 70), Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arshavin 77); Giroud (Coquelin 86). Subs: Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Mannone.

Referee: Lee Mason


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