By Rob Kelly
We were well-beaten by Aston Villa on a deeply disappointing night at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Coming into the game on the back of a morale-boosting win at Old Trafford, hopes were high but the visitors immediately underlined their attacking intent when, just seconds into the match, John McGinn swept the ball into the top corner.
Villa celebrated wildly, but the decision was checked by VAR – and the ‘goal’ ruled out as Ross Barkley was offside and adjudged to be impeding the view of Bernd Leno as McGinn struck the ball.
It was a major let-off for us, but we struggled to impose ourselves for much of the first half – although Willian blazed one effort over the bar after good work by Thomas Partey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But it was the visitors who took the lead when Matt Targett swept the ball across the face of goal and it was bundled in off the unfortunate Bukayo Saka.
We responded positively and had a golden chance to equalise when Kieran Tierney’s pinpoint cross from the left picked out Alex Lacazette, but the forward could not keep his header down.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing half, but after the restart it was the visitors who were first to threaten again, with Bernd Leno forced to palm away Trezeguet’s shot.
Jack Grealish then came close to extending Villa’s advantage from close range, only to see his curling effort deflected behind - before Rob Holding fired wide at the other end.
Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah were soon thrown into the fray as we looked for a way back into the game, with the former coming close with a fine curling effort.
But Villa’s fluent attacking display was rewarded with a second goal when Douglas Luiz found Barkley at the back post, and his volleyed cross was headed in by Ollie Watkins.
The Villa striker then made it three moments later to compound a miserable night for us at Emirates Stadium.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We’re now heading into the international break and return to Premier League action with a trip to Leeds United on Sunday, November 22.
We’re on the road again four days later as we travel to Norway to take on Molde as we look to maintain our 100 per cent record in the Europa League, before hosting Wolves at Emirates Stadium that weekend.
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