- Arsenal came back from behind to defeat Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park
- The results see Arsenal take over the top spot in the Premier League table
Arsenal ended their winless streak dramatically, coming from behind to defeat Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park and take over the top spot in the Premier League table.
The Gunners were level heading into stoppage time. Still, Jorginho’s strike deflected off Emiliano Martinez into the net, sparking wild celebrations, before substitute Gabriel Martinelli capped the comeback with a fourth on the breakaway.
Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho put Villa ahead twice in the first half, either side of Bukayo Saka’s equalizer. Still, Oleksandr Zinchenko equalized for Arsenal before a chaotic period of injury time.
Martinez’s unfortunate own goal appeared to settle the game. However, there was still time for Gabriel Martinelli to net into an open goal just before the full-time whistle, relegating Manchester City to second place.
How the game unfolded
Villa’s preference for early goals had been well-documented before the game, and the hosts’ press was causing Arsenal – who looked incredibly nervous at the back – all kinds of problems.
However, the Gunners’ reaction to falling behind was predictably positive, and they were inches away from equalizing in the 12th minute through Ben White, whose goalbound chip was miraculously tipped onto the crossbar by Tyrone Mings’ outstretched leg.
Villa’s lead would not last long, as Mings headed a White cross into the path of Saka, who unleashed a thunderous half-volley into the roof of the net in the 16th minute.
Despite being pushed back by Saka’s ninth league goal of the season, Villa remained unfazed and continued to play their way through Arsenal’s lines, resulting in a brilliant second goal for the hosts in the 31st minute.
A sweeping move from the back resulted in Alex Moreno firing a low cross to the edge of the box, which Emiliano Buendia dummied, and the ball fizzed through the legs of Granit Xhaka to Coutinho, who found the bottom corner with aplomb.
With all 11 players contributing to the defensive effort, Villa held off late Arsenal pressure to go into halftime with a one-goal lead. Arteta resisted the temptation to make any halftime changes.
However, Saka had been moving awkwardly for most of the game following a challenge from Moreno that took his boot clean off, and his race appeared to be over in the 51st minute when he dropped to the turf for treatment.
The second half
Arsenal‘s second-half solid start was rewarded in the 61st minute, albeit with some questionable defending, when Zinchenko was left acres of space to pick out the bottom corner from the edge of the box following a short corner routine.
Zinchenko was picked out by Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard, who played a delightful ball to Nketiah in the 63rd minute. Still, the Englishman was forced wide and chipped the ball well over Martinez’s crossbar.
Nonetheless, Villa’s quick wide men posed a threat on the counter, and Aaron Ramsdale was forced to make a spectacular save from Leon Bailey, who kept the ball in play on the right before seeing the England goalkeeper tip his effort onto the crossbar.
As six minutes of added time were added on, ex-Gunner Martinez gifted Arsenal the greatest gift they could receive in the title race, as Jorginho’s long-range effort cannoned off the woodwork before deflecting off Martinez’s head into the back of the net.
The Argentine attempted to make amends by coming up for a last-minute corner. Arsenal quickly dealt with the threat and released Fabio Vieira, who set Martinelli to tap home into Martinez’s open goal.
What do the results mean?
Arsenal has moved three points clear of Manchester City in first place ahead of their trip to Leicester City next weekend, while Villa remain 11th and plays Everton in seven days.
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