Yesterday was not a fun day. Yesterday a big chunk of hope that we might end the wait for a league title crumbled away. Yes, we are just two points off Man City and yes, there are a few games left still to play, but we aren’t up against any other team. We all know what Man City does at this stage in the season and after yesterday’s results you’ll be hard pressed to find many gamblers piling any money on any team other than City.

The Eaglet was my choice of pub to have a drink in pre match and as the whole pub witnessed Liverpool face an upset at home to Crystal Palace in the earlier kick off, hopes were turned to us against a good Villa side, but one that had played two days later than us and had some players missing. “Just do your job now Arsenal” was the mantra. We had to show Liverpool that any slip ups are punished.

We did not.

Arteta rotated a little bit and in hindsight it didn’t work, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t think that line up wasn’t perfectly fine. Trossard and Jesus in to the front three and Havertz dropping back in to the eight made sense; Trosard is in form, Jesus helped us turn the tide in midweek against Bayern, plus we knew that the pragmatic Emery would set up against us differently to how he sets up against other teams. And that’s exactly what he did. Without Douglas Luiz they played Tielemans and McGinn sitting in front of the back four and they used their pacey strikers on the counter. But in the first half it only really worked once, as Watkins hit the inside of the post to give us a scare. But other than that we should have put them away. Just like the game at Villa Park in December we had a hatful of chances, with Saka sweeping the ball wide, Havertz forcing a couple of saves from Martinez, then the most guilt-edge of the lot as Trossard should have scored from inside the six yard box. It looked like an amazing save at first, but Trossard really should have buried it and if we go one up there I think we probably on to win that game, because it forces Villa on to us and we don’t have to go chasing the game in the second half.

But as it was it felt like we froze in that second half anyway. It was the poorest we’ve been in a long time and I don’t really remember a ton of chances after the halftime whistle had been blown. Jesus, Saka, Trossard then Martinelli coming on, it all just looked disjointed and that allow Villa to capitalise. Their goal to open up the scoring was so poor defensive it was unrecognisable from Arsenal this season. What is Zinchenko – our left back – doing on the right hand side of our back line? We knew what he wasn’t doing, which was stopping the ball running to Bailey who had a tap in at the back post. Absolutely schoolboy stuff and it is now increasingly feeling like every time we play Zinchenko teams are recognising the gaping gaps that are left there. That goal was in the 84th minute and with the way that we had played in the second half we all knew the game was up. Ollie Watkins second three minutes later was just a symptom of a team flooding everything forward in desperation and losing all shape, so I’m not going to bother going in to too much detail on that one.

I thought Martin Odegaard looked good in the first half, but didn’t really do much in the second. Similarly I thought Havertz was good in the first half but faded in the second, but the rest of the players on that pitch looked a shadow of their former selves and the defensive solidity that has been such a bedrock of our form this season seems to have disappeared within a week. That’s four goals in two games conceded and they are all down to defensive mistakes. It’s not good enough.

It certainly isn’t good enough to win a league, but that has always felt like a long shot anyway when you’re up against 115 Charges FC. They are a machine and they will steamroll their way to the title now. Arteta got out-tactico’d by Unai Emery yesterday and he needs to have a think about how we set up, because in that second half it looked disjointed and disorganised and I think that’s on him. He will have known how Villa would set up yesterday but he did little to counter it. And now we go in to the game against Bayern on Wednesday looking like we’re creaking a bit. Ben White and Odegaard came off with Arteta saying Odegaard ‘felt something’ and from a week ago when an impressive away win at Brighton saw us victorious and imperious and looking every bit the title challenger, yesterday just left a bad taste in the mouth. Mathematically we are obviously well in it and the defeat by Liverpool to Palace means we’re not now behind two juggernauts and just one, but because it’s Man City that two points feels like it’s about five. Man City haven’t lost in something like 17 matches. Their next games are Brighton, Forest, Wolves, Fulham and the Scum before the end of the season. They will win them all, I am pretty sure of that. So we probably

We still need to hope, I will still be dreaming of some kind of miracle slip up, but let’s be honest here – it probably ain’t happening. Title talk needs to be shelved boys and girls.

Doing a pod on the Same Old Arsenal later at 7pm if you fancy joining us, although I don’t blame you if you don’t want to absorb any more football content right now! But I’ll be back tomorrow with some more musings.