Gunners teach Villa a Lesson
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal were high on confidence after a 2-0 away win at Manchester City while Aston Villa had gone five matches in the league without scoring and collected just three points from their last seven fixtures so the writing was on the wall at the Emirates Stadium, beginning of February. On six minutes, Nacho Monreal carved an opening in the Villa defence but Aaron Ramsey, dragged his shot wide. But Arsenal opened their account two minutes later, with a long ball forward from defence by club captain, Per Mertesacker, which followed with a crafted flick by Mesut Ozil from the heart of midfield, and as Olivier Giroud chased through on goal, he slid the ball past Brad Guzan, to end an excellent move by the Gunners. On eighteen minutes, Arsenal tested the Villa resolve again, when Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott combined, whose delivery was headed on by Laurent Koscielny at the far post and it took a goal line clearance from Ciaran Clark, to prevent the ball from going in. On twenty seven minutes, the Arsenal dominance continued, as from Giroud’s pass through, Cazorla latched onto the ball and drove a low strike against the foot of the bottom right post. In the thirty fourth minute, Brad Guzan made a double handed save to palm away Ramsey’s good connection to a ball across from Ozil. But Villa were close to snatching an equaliser in the forty third minute, when David Ospina sprung into action, to claw away Andreas Weimann’s close range header, after the ball had been whipped in by Carles Gil. Villa were fast out the traps for the second half, as club captain, Fabian Delph supplied Weimann, who teed up Christian Benteke in the area, but his shot could not find the target. But it was Arsenal with the upper hand on the game, as the Gunners had a two goal cushion on fifty six minutes, when Theo Walcott was the midfield general, before Giroud’s ball down the middle went into the path of Ozil, who left Guzan in no man’s land, as he calmly slotted the ball low into the net. On sixty two minutes, Ospina made a finger tip save to turn behind Delph’s strike towards goal, after build up play between Weimann and Gil. But within a minute, the Gunners had the game wrapped up when from Ospina’s throw out to the middle of the park, Walcott played a one two with Cazorla, before finding an acute finish as Walcott curled the ball into the right side of the net. Villa then made a double change by taking off Tom Cleverley as Gabriel Agbonlahor took over and also replacing Weimann with new signing, Scott Sinclair. Following a foul on Cazorla by Gil, a floating free kick by Cazorla was headed onto the crossbar by Giroud in the sixty ninth minute. The Gunners then made two substitutions as Tomas Rosicky took over from Walcott and Chuba Akpom replaced Giroud. With seventy four minutes played, referee Anthony Taylor awarded Arsenal a penalty after Guzan pulled down Akpom in the left side of the area, and as Cazolra powered in his spot kick, Guzan could only push the ball into the net, as Arsenal strolled to a four goal lead. Villa then took off Carlos Sanchez as Ashley Westwood took over while the Gunners brought on Mathieu Flamini for Ramsey. A disappointing afternoon for Villa was summed up when Gil miss placed his free kick, having been tripped by Rosicky. A lunging stop by Clark kept out Bellerin’s effort near the end from Flamini’s piece of ingenuity and Guzan was then forced to collect a header by Akpom from a Mertesacker cross on the left side. Arsenal began showboating which ended with Ozil’s strike deflecting off Clark, before Monreal drove the ball against the outside netting by the left post. In stoppage time, Akpom was unable to apply the finish from Cazorla’s ball through as Guzan collected but the Villa keeper had to pick the ball out the net for a fifth time, when Cazorla forced the ball out wide, before Bellerin drilled the ball into the left corner. In the final piece of action, Ospina flipped over Gil’s shot outside the box, after Monreal’s miss placed clearance as Arsenal were in control from start to finish.