Post-Match Report

Report: Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa

Kai Havertz in action against Aston Villa

Aston Villa -

Emirates Stadium
Premier League
Premier League
0 2
  Aston Villa
              L. Bailey (83)
               O. Watkins (86)
Aston Villa
L. Bailey (83) O. Watkins (86)

Late goals from Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins saw our 11-league game unbeaten run end at the hands of Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.

An excellent first-half performance saw us create numerous opportunities but couldn’t put one away, and that kept the Champions League-chasing Villans in the game, who struck the woodwork twice before hitting us with sucker punches two minutes apart.

Bailey netted with six minutes to go to hand Unai Emery’s side the advantage, and soon after Watkins broke through on the counter to wrap up the win and deal us a setback in our title aspirations.

Everything but the goal

As if we didn’t need any more motivation, Liverpool’s loss earlier in the day meant the opportunity was ours to pull away from one of our title rivals, and we looked determined in the game's opening quarter.

Emiliano Martinez was tested early on when Leandro Trossard slid in Kai Havertz but the German shot straight at our former keeper, and on 17 minutes Gabriel Jesus had a golden chance to put us in front when he was picked out by Bukayo Saka at the far post but could only find the side-netting.

That was rippled again soon after when a pinpoint Martin Odegaard pass found Saka who miscued his trademark blast into the near post, as we couldn’t quite find a way to make our good start count.

There was no question we were in total control of proceedings during the opening 45, the lead was still there to be seized and playing against a team fourth in the table, the margins were so tight.

Therefore, when a mix-up between Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko allowed Watkins a route through on goal, all Gooners breathed a sigh of relief when the red-hot marksman struck the base of the post and the ball flashed across the goalmouth to safety.

Seconds later we were back at the other end putting Villa under pressure again, and should have broken the deadlock with the best chance of the half. An Odegaard shot cannoned into Jesus’ path, who unselfishly squared for Trossard but Martinez managed to save with his feet from point-blank range.

With four minutes of the half remaining Saka bent an effort just wide of the upright as we went into the changing rooms at the break scratching our heads as to how we weren’t in front, having had 14 shots but no goals.

Villa strike twice

The breather did Villa some good as they started the second half much better, and the relentless waves of attacks on their goal ended as chances dried up in a cagier affair. Then on the hour mark, it was the visitors who again came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock when they again struck our goalframe.

After a corner was partially cleared, Zinchenko was dispossessed on the edge of our box by Youri Tielemans who whipped an effort towards the top corner. After crashing off the underside of the bar, it then flicked the post as well before we scrambled it away.

Needing a spark, Mikel Arteta sent on Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli but it was a Villa substitute who would make the biggest impact with six minutes to go. A centre by Lucas Digne attempted to find Pau Torres at the front post but he missed it, and our defence switched off as Bailey was allowed to squeeze the ball home at the back stick.

And then just two minutes later, Watkins sealed the win with his 10th goal in his last 11 league appearances.

After we won a corner, Villa countered and a long ball saw the England striker start his run inside his own half and charge forward, and he held off Smith Rowe before dinking the ball over David Raya to seal only a third Premier League double at our expense, and more importantly see us lose ground on leaders Manchester City.

Facts and stats

We have only lost more league games under Mikel Arteta against Manchester City (7) than the Villans (5).

Aston Villa are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League games in London (W7 D3), including on all six trips so far this season (W5 D1) – among non-London sides, only Manchester United (3 times) have ever had a longer unbeaten run away from home in the capital in the competition.

We suffered a Premier League defeat for the first time since New Year’s Eve against Fulham, whilst we have now failed to score in two of our last four league games, having only gone goalless in three of their first 28 games this season.

Villa won an away Premier League game against a team starting the day in the top two positions for the first time since December 2009 against Manchester United (1-0), losing 14 such games in a row prior to today.

Unai Emery has lost just one of his seven games as a manager across all competitions against us (W3 D3), whilst he is still unbeaten as an away coach at the Emirates Stadium across games with PSG (D1), Villarreal (D1) and Villa (W1).  

There were 21 shots in the first half of this game (14 by Arsenal, 7 by Aston Villa) with only Man City v Brentford in February (22) seeing more first half attempts without a goal being produced in a Premier League match this season. Meanwhile, Aston Villa scored with their only two shots on target in the game.

Leon Bailey has been directly involved in seven goals as a substitute in the Premier League this season (three goals, four assists), more than any other player.

Ollie Watkins has scored 19 goals in the Premier League this season, the joint-most ever in a single campaign for Aston Villa along with Christian Benteke in 2012/13. Only Erling Haaland (20) has scored more goals in the competition this term.

Up next

We fly to Munich on Tuesday ahead of the second leg of our Champions League clash against Bayern the day after, and then we're back in league action on Saturday, April 20 when we travel to Wolves before Chelsea then come to Emirates Stadium three days later.

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