By Rob Kelly at Emirates Stadium
We blew Aston Villa away under the Emirates Stadium lights on Friday with a blistering performance full of energy, desire and attacking vigour.
On a fine night in N5, Thomas Partey scored his first goal in our colours, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored again and the lively Emile Smith Rowe was also on target.
We came flying out of the blocks and seemed determined to stamp our authority on the game immediately. Within four minutes Aubameyang had tried an acrobatic effort, before Nuno Tavares – in his first-ever Premier League start – blasted another shot high and wide after racing into the box.
But for all our dominance we had to be patient as we sought a breakthrough, although Partey went closest to the opener when he poked the ball against the bar from close range.
Tavares then saw a deflected shot drift inches past the post moments later as we continued to pile on the pressure – and eventually it told.
With 23 minutes on the clock, Partey reacted first to meet Smith Rowe’s inswinging corner from the left and glanced a header beyond former Gunner Emi Martinez. At long last, after 40 appearances and with his 49th attempt on goal in Arsenal colours, the Ghanaian was off the mark.
Four days earlier we took our foot off the gas after taking the lead against Crystal Palace, but there was no repeat here as we continued to storm forward and we should have doubled our advantage, but Martinez did well to deny Bukayo Saka.
Partey headed another chance over as the half-time interval neared, and just before the whistle there was late drama as we were awarded a penalty after a VAR review for a Matt Targett tackle on Alex Lacazette in the area.
Aubameyang stepped up and while his spot kick was saved by Martinez, he quickly poked the rebound beyond his former team-mate to double our advantage. It was no more than we deserved.
Things got even better 10 minutes into the second half as we extended our lead further as Aubameyang released Smith Rowe with a delightful ball and the England Under-21 international raced through and scored at the near post.
Villa were more of a threat after the interval and Ben White made two fine blocks in quick succession, while Aaron Ramsdale had to be alert to deny Emi Buendia.
Jacob Ramsey pulled one back for the visitors with a fine strike into the top corner, but it was nothing but a consolation as we sealed a fine three points.
WHAT IT MEANS
We face Leeds in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night at Emirates Stadium, before hitting the road to take on Leicester City next weekend.
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