Aston Villa have been rejected by Mauricio Pochettino to hammer home how their Arsenal plan has well and truly failed with Mikel Arteta’s side flying high atop the Premier League.
Aston Villa sacked head coach Steven Gerrard after losing 3-0 away at Fulham. The former Liverpool midfielder started the season with six defeats, three draws and just two wins which was enough for the Birmingham-based club to pull the plug.
Arsenal were one of the sides to inflict defeat upon Villa earlier this season in a 2-1 match in which the scoreline certainly failed to tell the story of the dominant Gunners’ victory. A narrative between the two clubs had grown somewhat over the past couple of years however the recent plight of Villa and the latest rejection compound any hopes the club had of surpassing the Gunners.
Despite winning the race to sign Emiliano Buendia from Norwich ahead of Arsenal, Villa ultimately have continued to fall further and further away from the Gunners. Whilst Mikel Arteta has steered his side to the league’s summit, Villa find themselves dancing with relegation sitting joint 18th in the table with Wolves on nine points and a minus-nine goal difference.
It was evident that Villa, with their significant investment coming from Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens who took control in 2018, that the club was targeting reaching the elite level. Former head coach Dean Smith said in June of 2021, less than five months before he would be sacked, that his conversations with the new club custodians saw an ambition to reach a level where Arsenal were, at the time, falling from.
“From my interactions with the owners so far, they are very astute businessmen who have a strategic plan for Aston Villa,” said Smith. “Part of that plan is to go and compete with the upper echelons of this league. That’s where they want the club to go, they want to grow the brand of Aston Villa football club all across the world as well. But they are also aware that takes time.
In their search for a new head coach in the wake of Gerrard, the reality of the sheer chasm between themselves and Arsenal was shown through the rejection of former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. Despite the Argentine being the primary target of Villa, according to Birmingham Live, he instead is focused on returning to the game at just an ‘elite level’.
More than a year on now from the attempts of Aston Villa to try to prise away Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal with several high-profile bids, the rejection of a coach for such a reason should bring a wry smile to those in north London. Villa are one of a long line of clubs who have tried to jump at the chance to replace the Gunners as one of the “Big Six” whilst they fell out of European competition.
The likes of Villa, Everton, Leicester City, West Ham United and Wolves have all had their shot at it but ultimately failed. Further evidence arises when taking a peek at the Premier League table.
All five of the aforementioned clubs currently sit in the bottom half of the table after 11 games. The closest to Arsenal having played a game more is West Ham, 16 points off the league leaders’ pacesetting total of 27.
An appointment like Pochettino would have perhaps raised eyebrows and made a club at the elite level like Arsenal look over their shoulders. The latest from The Athletic suggests Sporting Lisbon coach Ruben Amorim is among those being considered.
Despite doing brilliantly well with Sporting, there is no suggestion that even he would leave the Champions League participants. Although, Sporting are currently nine points off league leaders Benfica and sit fifth behind their city rivals, Porto, Braga and Casa Pia.
If Arsenal are looking behind them for any reason right now it is to see Erling Haaland and Manchester City trying to close the four-point gap that has opened up. Were there ever a reason to be checking your shoulder as a club, having a Pep Guardiola side doing the chasing is nothing but a good thing.
Threats like Aston Villa and co will hopefully be a thing of the past. Although they might wish to keep their eyes open in case the Gunners come calling to steal some of their own talent in the near future.