A clinical Arsenal side swept aside Aston Villa thanks to an early penalty by Olivier Giroud and a great counter attacking move that ended in an Aaron Ramsey goal.
Villa fought hard for a revival in the second half, but couldn’t create any clear cut chances as the Gunners rode out the threat.
With no team having won more games in the last year than Arsenal, and no team having lost more in the same time than Villa, it certainly had the potential for an intriguing clash.
Still buzzing from their Champions League triumph over Olympiakos, the Gunners found themselves being pinned back by the Premier League’s basement side in the early stages, although Remi Garde’s side were lacking in the final third; with Scott Sinclair popping up to test Cech’s handling skills.
Walcott then immediately darted up the other end, turning Alan Hutton inside out in the box and was brought down.The referee waited a few seconds, appearing to give nothing, but changed his mind, finally awarding a penalty, amidst confusion at Villa Park.&
Olivier Giroud eventually stepped up and sent Brad Guzan the wrong way with eight minutes on the clock for his ninth goal of the season and his 50th for the Gunners.
A shellshocked Aston Villa looked to hit back straight away, although they were looking incredibly susceptible to Arsenal’s pace-fueled counter attack. The speedy force of Walcott and Campbell certainly looked to be causing Villa some problems.
The Gunners were looking very comfortable despite not creating many other chances, and the ‘olays’ started to ring out from the away fans as Villa looked frustrated by Arsenal’s casual dominance. Koscielny had a decent chance from a perfectly floated Ozil free-kick, but missed the ball completely. Gueye then attempted to jump-start Villa with a wayward strike from range.
Villa were looking to hold on until the break before a breathtaking counter attack put Arsenal two goals to the good. Ramsey made a perfect tackle in the Arsenal half to start the attack, with Theo Walcott putting Ozil through on goal.&
The German grabbed yet another assist, laying on for Ramsey to tap into an empty net. It looked far too easy for the Gunners, as Remi Garde shook his head on the touchline and Arsenal fans began chanting ‘You’re going down with the Chelsea’. The Villa faithful jeered their team off the pitch as the half time whistle blew.
Villa tried to get back in the game immediately in the second half, when Veretout tried his luck from far out and Rudy Gestede’s header trickled wide from Sinclair’s cross.
The Villa fans were starting to come onside, and a Sinclair saw his glanced header fall onto the roof of the net from Hutton’s delivery.
With dominating spells of possession, Villa were putting Arsenal under the cosh, and Bacuna was unlucky to see his right foot curler go inches over the bar.
Whatever Garde had told his players at half time, he was seeing the benefits of it, and all that was missing was a goal and a real clear cut chance. Arsenal were happy to sit back due to Villa’s poor final ball, but Arsene Wenger became increasingly concerned and thus threw on Kieran Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain to try and steady the ship.
Carles Gil was next to try his luck, but only registered another shot off target as Cech saw it go wide. With just 15 minutes remaining and not a lot of chances being carved on Garde sent controversial youngster Jack Grealish into the action, replacing Gueye.&
Arsenal, having survived pressure for the entire second half, sprung back into life as Guzan had to be alert to parry Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot.
The former Southampton starlet then went on a mazy run that Okore had to cut out by sliding in and clearing for a corner. Adama, a loanee from Barcelona, showed Villa fans what he can do after bursting into the Arsenal box but hitting the side netting.
With time running out, it was becoming clear that Villa’s second half battle wasn’t going to suffice in claiming a result, as their momentum came to a halt and Arsenal were more than capable of seeing out the game as the final whistle blew.
The result sends Arsenal top of the table, at least until Leicester play Chelsea on Monday night. Remi Garde will be encouraged by his side’s performance in the second half, but he will be asking his players why they couldn’t replicate it in the first.&
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