Villa's aim to stop Arsenal playing in midfield
When arsenal had the ball in defence ready to build from the back into midfield they struggled to get the ball into midfield due to the way how villa were set up. Villa set up to mark the potential passing options and either force Arsenal long or play to the wings. Below is an example of how villa tried to do this:
Here you can see Villa are covering all Arsenals passing options in midfield to stop arsenal playing into midfield but as you can see villa have all 5 midfielders pushed up leaving space in behind for Sanchez which is very dangerous considering his individual abilities.
You could throw a blanked over those 5 villa midfielders because of how high and close together they are. The game plan so far in the match show early signs of it not working and they wouldve been a lot better off keeping these areas compact as the last thing you want is Sanchez, Cozorla and Ozil in between your lines.
Arsenals first goal actually came from a identical situation to this where Villa gave to much space in between the lines to Walcott who swapped with sanchez on the left. Villa failed to see this as a danger and carried on employing the same tactic of cutting the passing options higher up rather than closing down the space where arsenal are dangerous.
Villa not playing to their strengths. Lack of directness
Here is a great chance for villa to start an attack. Look at all the options circled red. The option in front is available due to Coquelin pressing up. The 2 wide left are screaming for Delph to pass the ball but instead he tries to dribble his way out . Out of picture benteke is also a longer options with close support of Nzogbia on the right.
Another example of villa not being direct enough
Here Delph in space again but he decides to play a short ball into cleverly when he could use Villas counter attacking qualities and take advantage of arsenal being out of position with a longer pass to the flanks.
Arsenal reorganize with ease and cover the spaces which villa could and should have taken advantage off making it too easy for the arsenal defense.
It happened time and time again they kept playing short horizontal balls which does not suit the players and at times they lost control of the ball giving away cheap possession. When they did get the ball quickly into benteke you could see it was causing Koscienly and Metersacker problems with dealing with benteke's physicality. The lack of balls played behind the defense was also disappointing from villa.
Nzogbia poor defensive work rate
Nzogbia and grealish stayed relatively close to benteke and narrow in midfield. When the ball was lost Grealish got back into his defensive position taking on his defensive responsibilities however Nzogbia was reluctant to track back. This left huge gaps on the right side for sanchez to exploit it also meant that cleverly (the right sided centre midfielder) had to come across to fulfil the duties left by Nzogbia.
Nzogbia is the furthest Aston Villa player forward as he is trying to get the flick-on from benteke. Grealish is joining the attack late due to him tracking back to help his defence.
Due to Nzogbia being so high up the pitch not providing passing options in central midfield it meant cleverly was forced to leave his position in the midfield and drift out wide to create a passing option. This forced errors in midfield due the lack of passing options available at times but cleverly did well on his own with hutton sitting relatively deep through out the match.
Here Nzogbia is extremely late to track back and shows the importance of wide players doing their defensive duties in the modern game . This leads to a great chance for Arsenal which they should've scored. Had Nzogba helped track his runner then doubled up with Hutton, Cleverly would have been in a position were he could have pressed Ozil stopping the pass inside.