In a stunning result at the Emirates tonight, Arsenal fell to a 0-3 defeat against Aston Villa. Arsenal could’ve been behind after just 49 seconds, as John McGinn smashed the ball home from inside the box following some good work from Jack Grealish, only for the goal to be chalked off by VAR.
In the end, though, it didn’t matter. Villa opened the scoring on 25 minutes when Bukayo Saka turned the ball into his own net following a slick move. And from there, Arsenal simply couldn’t break Dean Smith’s side down.
Villa looked the more threatening side throughout the second half despite Arsenal having plenty of possession. In the end, two goals inside three minutes from Ollie Watkins eventually ensured Villa would claim all three points.
Here are five talking points from Aston Villa’s win over Arsenal.
#1 Villa worked incredibly hard for their win
Aston Villa were coming into this game off the back of a pair of pretty poor results. They were thoroughly cut apart by Leeds United two weeks ago and also lost to Southampton despite a remarkable attempt at a second-half comeback. With that in mind, this match looked like a tricky one for them on paper.
Dean Smith’s side certainly didn’t make it look that way, though. They came into this match looking just as confident as they’d done following their 7-2 demolition of Liverpool and clearly earned their win. However, that’s not to say they didn’t have to work for the three points.
Instead, Villa worked incredibly hard from the get-go to pressure Arsenal and never allow them to be comfortable. When Mikel Arteta’s side attempted to play from the back, the likes of Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins were harrying them.
And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang never really offered a threat thanks to the constant effort of both Matty Cash and Trezeguet, who tracked back tremendously.
Many observers felt that the bubble had burst for Villa following their two recent losses, but those losses might represent the exception rather than the rule judging by tonight's game. With incredibly talented players like Grealish being equally willing to put the hard work in, Villa could go places this season.
#2 Arsenal struggled for creativity throughout the game
It seems hard to believe it now, but we’re still less than four months removed from the last time these two sides faced off. And just as they did tonight, Villa took all three points in that fateful game – a result which allowed them to retain their Premier League status.
But while Villa have improved massively since – adding a deadly striker in Ollie Watkins, more defensive solidity, and more craft – Arsenal suffered from the same problem they did back in July. Despite having more possession, the Gunners simply couldn’t create any true chances on goal.
In July, Arsenal failed to register a single shot on target. Tonight was a slight improvement on that, but they still only managed two attempts. With attackers like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian on the pitch, that’s simply not good enough.
The truth is that Arsenal completely lack any kind of creativity in midfield and are crying out for the kind of spark that a Ross Barkley or Jack Grealish could add. When it became apparent that Mesut Ozil was persona non grata at the Emirates, signing a creative player should surely have been Arsenal’s priority in the transfer window.
The fact that they didn’t do so is baffling and may cost them a place in the upper echelon this season.