Today’s early afternoon kick-off in the Premier League saw a tight game at Villa Park, but in the end, it was the home side that came out on top. Aston Villa defeated Arsenal 1-0, meaning that Dean Smith’s side have now done the double over the Gunners after beating them at the Emirates in November.
The winning goal actually came after just two minutes through Ollie Watkins, who has now scored four goals in his last five Premier League games.
It was a largely even match from then on, but despite Arsenal pouring the pressure on in the second half, Villa stood firm and collected a precious three points.
Here are five talking points from Aston Villa’s win over Arsenal.
#1 Arsenal were the architects of their own downfall – again
This Wednesday saw Arsenal play some of the best football they’d played all season, as they tore Wolves apart in the first half of their game. However, the Gunners ended up being the architects of their own downfall, suffering two red cards and collapsing to a 2-1 defeat.
Mikel Arteta’s side once again brought about their own defeat in this match. After an early Villa attack broke down, it looked like Cedric Soares had an easy clearance on. However, he misplaced a pass horrendously, allowing Bertrand Traore to dart into the box.
Traore poked the ball across to Ollie Watkins, and his shot deflected off Rob Holding and into the net past the despairing Mat Ryan.
Arteta must’ve been so frustrated by this goal. Not only did Cedric make a terrible error with his weak pass, but Holding should’ve been far tighter to Watkins – the only Villa player in the box – and should never have allowed him to get his shot away.
Had this mistake not happened, who knows what the result of this game could’ve been?
Essentially, the lesson for Arsenal has to be that to succeed in the Premier League these days, and you cannot make cheap errors like this one.
#2 Aston Villa defended remarkably well
After conceding with just two minutes gone in this game, Arsenal had well over 90 minutes to find an equalizer when you take added time into account. But thanks to Aston Villa’s incredible defensive performance, they never really came close.
The Gunners had 14 shots on goal during this game but only managed a total of three on target. And only Granit Xhaka’s wonderfully struck first-half free-kick really tested Emiliano Martinez.
Every one of Villa’s defenders were phenomenal today, while their deeper midfielders John McGinn and Marvelous Nakamba also screened the defense well.
Even attackers like Jack Grealish, Bertrand Traore, and Ollie Watkins did plenty of defensive work.
The biggest praise should be reserved for Tyrone Mings and Matty Cash, though. Mings made a ludicrous amount of key blocks and last-ditch tackles, while Cash was able to shackle a number of Gunners players, from Nicolas Pepe to Bukayo Saka.
Watching this display, it’s easy to understand why only Manchester City have kept more clean sheets than Aston Villa this season.