The first of today’s two Premier League encounters took place at the Emirates stadium as third placed Arsenal took on fourth placed Aston Villa. A win for either side would move them within just four points of table toppers Chelsea. Villa went into this game on the back of four straight wins, and fifth would equal their best ever run of five successive wins.
It is certainly debatable whether either side can actually make a credible title challenge, but both sides are in still in contention. Arsenal were billed as the team to drop out of the Premier Leagues so-called Big Four, but now that looks to be Liverpool, on the other hand Manchester City with all the money were touted as the ones to take Arsenals place. Now it looks increasingly likely that Arsenal will remain in the Big Four, and Aston Villa will take Liverpool’s place.
Undoubtedly it was Arsenal who made the brighter start for the first five minutes creating chances but with no end product. They won the first corner of the game, but Heskey headed Eduardo’s delivery behind for another, the second was rolled out to Denilson who blasted his shot over the bar.
Breathless stuff followed for the next 20 or so minutes, and it Aston Villa who were the ones that looked to be dangerous on every attack that they get, while Arsenal’s defence began to have question marks written all over it and looked struggle each time Villa attacked.
In the 31st minute Arsenal were given a free-kick right on the edge of the Aston Villa area on after Denilson was brought down, the but it was a wasted opportunity as he blasted the ball into the wall and the subsequent rebound is booted over the bar from Sagna.
A comedy of errors right before half time from the Aston Villa defence but it comes to nothing for Arsenal who can’t capitalise on their mistakes. However, neither side managed to break the deadlock as referee Phil Dowd blew the whistle for half-time.
The second-half started as you were, with neither manager deciding to make any changes. Just like in the first half Arsenal started with their high tempo attacking football. There were chances a plenty for the Gunners as they mounted attack after attack and chance after chance. Eduardo, Gallas and Denilson all came close.
It was indeed the home side who finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute after a superbly taken free-kick by substitute Cesc Fabregas who curled it into the top corner, Villa keeper Brad Friedel had no chance of stopping it. What a way to make your return from injury from the Spaniard.
All of Aston Villa’s chances dried up after this as Arsenal continued to dominate the game pushing men forward on every attack. It was no surprise when they managed to find the back of the Aston Villa net once again in the 80th minute. Armand Traore managed to pick out Theo Walcott on the wing who then raced down the right before playing a square ball into the path of Fabregas who knocked it into the back of the net, and injuring himself in the process.
The Spain midfielder who started on the bench was replaced by Aaron Ramsey and left the field holding his hamstring, hopefully nothing too serious. Fantastic cameo by the club captain, but Arsenal were not finished there as the meanest defence in the Premier League was broken once again in 90th minute, as Abou Diaby stroked in a fine side-footed effort into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Having not conceded in four games Villa concede three, and for the first time since their opening day defeat to Wigan they have not scored.
On the day the best team won, but Arsenal did not really get going until Fabregas came on and resulted in some great attacking football from the Gunners. Villa will need to regroup now for Tuesday where Liverpool awaits them.
Arsenal move within four points of Chelsea with a game in hand, they can enjoy second place, but not for long, if Manchester United beat Hull then they will go back to third.