Quick goals give Arsenal the winning edge over Villa

Arsenal survived a late scare to regain top spot in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa on Monday, with both their goals arriving in the space of a minute in the first half.

England midfielder Jack Wilshere opened the scoring after 34 minutes with an accurate left-foot finish and Villa self-destructed, conceding possession straight from the re-start and allowing Olivier Giroud to double the visitors' lead.

Christian Benteke's stooping header raised hopes of an unlikely comeback and the Belgian striker came close to an equaliser but Arsenal hung on to continue their fine record at Villa where they have not lost since 1998.

Arsenal began the evening in third place after wins for title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City at the weekend but responded in style to move a point clear at the top.

Arsene Wenger's side have 48 points from 21 matches, City have 47 and Chelsea 46 with fourth-placed Liverpool further back on 42 after also winning at the weekend.


"It's a massive three points – especially because we dropped a bit in the second half. We have done that a few times, letting teams come on to us but we dealt well with it," Wilshere told Sky Sports.

"In the past we used to feel the nerves when we were up against it. But this season we haven't and Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have been brilliant all season."

Fight back
Arsenal dominated possession in the first half without really hurting Villa, until Nacho Monreal picked out Wilshere who took one touch before sweeping a low shot past Brad Guzan.

Villa, disrupted by a head injury to defender Nathan Baker that required a seven-minute stoppage, then gifted Arsenal possession, and Wilshere's ball into the box found Giroud who finished in clinical fashion.

Arsenal appeared to be coasting after the break but Villa roused themselves and Matthew Lowton's superb cross from the right was met by a diving Benteke who scored his first goal since September.

Arsenal suddenly looked jittery and with the clock ticking down another Lowton cross looked perfect for Benteke but he failed to connect properly with a header from in front of goal.

While Wenger looked displeased with some of his side's play, he was pleased with their resilience as Villa threatened.

"It was vital because the first half was more about playing, and the second half was more about fighting," he said. "They made it very physical, put the ball up high in the air and we had a very good resilient performance in the second half. Overall we have shown again both sides of the game." – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Lampard vs Arteta: Managers of a forgotten generation

Two of football’s youngest coaches are competing for one of its highest honours. This tells us something about how the Premier League appoints manager

Manchester City CAS ruling counts for everything and nothing

It may leave a sour taste in the mouth, but the lack of sanction for Manchester City, aside from a fine that amounts to small change, doesn’t affect the bigger picture

Corporate and broadcast deals push PSL to restart

Football will return, but the players are likely to have very little time to acquaint themselves with the "new normal"

Pundits cling to football’s racial tropes

A study of European 2019 season commentary suggests prejudice is alive and kicking, but Black Lives Matter and Covid-19 may be changing this

Football’s back but still no fags

‘Augmented’ level three has me conflicted. I’m happy more people will be able to go back to earning a living, but case numbers will rise

Football will define its own destiny as it returns to a strange world

The superstars of the Premier League are back and how they do will determine whether they remain relevant – on and off the pitch
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday