By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal Reserves suffered a thoroughly disappointing night as they went down 10-1 at Aston Villa on Monday.
On an evening Neil Banfield and his side will want to forget in a hurry, Villa scored five times either side of the break to run out comprehensive winners.
The victory means they leapfrog Arsenal at the top of the table.
The home side were already a goal to the good when George Brislen-Hall received a straight red card after just 11 minutes and the second string never recovered.
Villa were the better side from start to finish as Arsenal succumbed to their heaviest defeat, at any level, in recent memory.
Banfield made three changes from the XI that had won 1-0 at West Brom back in early December.
Regular centre halves Ignasi Miquel and Sead Hajrovic were missing so Elton Monteiro partnered Nico Yennaris at the back. In the absence of the Spanish captain, Gilles Sunu was given the armband.
If anything Arsenal started on the front foot with Chuks Aneke and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas linking up well, the latter forcing a smart stop from Elliot Parish in the opening few seconds.
But, after just five minutes, the Gunners began to lose their way. An errant back pass let in Nathan Delfouneso who struck the outside of the post from a tight angle.
Then, four minutes later, the home side went ahead and it was all Arsenal’s making.
An innocuous long ball into the right channel seemed harmless at first. James Shea came out to deal with it, but he scuffed his left-footed clearance straight to Gary Gardner who expertly found the empty net from all of 40 yards.
A bad start was made even worse just two minutes later when Brislen-Hall received his marching orders for a lunge on Jonathan Hogg.
Banfield was forced to reshuffle with Conor Henderson moving to left back and Sunu and Emmanuel-Thomas dropping deeper.
Andreas Weimann doubled the lead after 16 minutes before Arsenal began to frustrate Villa without really offering an attacking threat themselves.
That was until a crazy six-minute spell at the end of the first half.
Firstly, Nathan Baker was left unmarked at the back post and he squared for Chris Herd who had the simplest of finishes to get a third.
Two minutes later, Hogg lashed into the roof of the net to make it four.
Oguzhan Ozyakup then slipped inside the area and, when he handled, referee Ford was left with no option but to point to the spot. Gardner sent Shea the wrong way to get his second and Villa’s fifth in stoppage time.
Banfield reacted by bringing on Luke Freeman and Josh Rees at half time as Emmanuel-Thomas moved to centre half to counter Villa’s aerial threat.
But it just wasn’t happening for Arsenal. A Herd header from close range made it six after 64 minutes. Delfouneso tapped into an empty net to make it seven nine minutes later.
The same man added an eighth with a cool finish ten minutes from time before substitute Roarie Deacon grabbed a consolation when he glanced home Emmanuel-Thomas’ in-swinging free kick.
Herd sealed his hat-trick four minutes from the end and Weimann got a tenth in injury time.
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