By Josh James at Emirates Stadium
Olivier Giroud hit a hat-trick, and Mark Bunn put through his own net late on- as Arsenal claimed second place on the final day of the season.
The Frenchman took his tally to 24 for the campaign - his best scoring season for the Gunners - as Arsenal recorded their highest league finish since moving to Emirates Stadium.
Giroud scored the first after just five minutes, a well directed header from Nacho Monreal's left wing cross, but had to wait until the last 15 minutes to guarantee the points.
His second was a trademark near post goal, set up by Mesut Ozil's 19th assist of the season.
Two minutes later he sprung the offside trap to wrap up a memorable treble.In injury time Mikel Arteta, with the help of Villa keeper Bunn, marked his last game for Arsenal by playing a decisive part in the final goal.
Newcastle's handsome home win over Spurs also meant that Arsenal finished above their north London rivals for the 21st consecutive season.
Petr Cech's Golden Glove-clinching 16th clean sheet of the season added to the celebrations at the final whistle.
SETTING THE SCENE
The situation was clear - win against Aston Villa at home, then hope already relegated Newcastle United can beat Tottenham at St James Park.
Only those two results would secure the runners-up spot in the Premier League.
A point would be enough to guarantee third place - and avoid the Champions League qualifiers - after drawing at the Etihad Stadium last weekend. Arsène Wenger made four changes to the side that earned that 2-2 draw with Manchester City.
Danny Welbeck was ruled out with injury of course, but the boss was able to welcome back Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla to the starting line up.
It was Cazorla's first appearance since November, while Wilshere was making his first start of the season. Mesut Ozil also returned after missing last weekend's match.
As for Villa, this game would bring an end to their ever-present status as a Premier League side, and were looking for their first away win since the opening day of the season.
They named 17-year-old forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy on the bench, after he scored at Emirates Stadium in an under-21 fixture last week.
Just five minutes after kick-off, Arsenal scored with their first effort on target. Nacho Monreal swung in an inviting cross and Olivier Giroud, unmarked on the penalty spot, planted his header into the bottom corner.
The Villa fans joined in with mock celebrations of their own, but three minutes later they almost had reason for genuine cheer. Jordan Ayew shrugged off Gabriel in the box and squared the ball across goal, but Laurent Koscielny scrambled away the danger.
Gabriel couldn't quite get enough power on his header from an in-swinging free-kick as chances continued to come.
News that Totenham were trailing then circulated around the stadium midway through the half, while on the pitch Arsenal continued to dictate the play.
Alexis was his usual livewire self. He sent a low effort just wide after wiggling past a couple of challenges in the box, then he set up a decent chance for Wilshere. The Chilean found him unmarked at the far post, but the midfielder couldn't quite wrap his right foot round the cross.
Villa caused a few moments of concern when they broke through as the feeling grew that the hosts would need the cushion of a second goal.
There was a fairly sedate feel to the start of the second half. Giroud was frustrated on the edge of the area a couple of times and passes were going astray.
Hector Bellerin blazed over from 20 yards after Cazorla's knock back fell to his left foot, but it was Villa who looked increasingly likely to score.
Monreal squared a low ball after patient build-up in the box, but the Gunners couldn't force Mark Bunn into a save.
Alexis was off target with a free kick, while substitute Mohamed Elneny volleyed high over the bar when the ball dropped invitingly inside the box.
Then two quick fire Giroud goals settled matters. The first came when Ozil cut the ball back from the touchline to the Frenchman, who was deadly at the near post.
Emirates breathed a sigh of relief, and a minute that relief turned to jubilation as the Frenchman completed his hat-trick.
Hector Bellerin released him with a fine through ball and Giroud, just onside, slid the ball under the keeper.
Emirates was in full cry now. All the script needed was a goal for substitute Arteta, who was calling time on his Gunners career.
It nearly came right at the end, when his fierce shot struck the bar, then crept over the line after hitting Bunn.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
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