Arsenal’s previous game at the Emirates was a 2-1 over Manchester United. They were firm favourites to win this one as well, unfortunately for the Gunners, it didn’t go to plan.
Boss Arsene Wenger stuck with the same team that beat United, and despite a superb performance from ‘keeper Manuel Almunia, it was Villa who came out the pleased side.
Arsenal Starting XI
Sagna – Gallas – Silvestre – Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Denilson – Nasri
Aston Villa Starting XI
Young – Laursen – Davies – Cuellar
Milner – Sidwell – Barry – Young
Petrov – Agbonlahor
Martin O’Neill’s side got out of the blocks early as A Young fired in a fierce 20-yard shot in the first minute, which Almunia saved well.
Arsenal showed their quality on four as Walcott was released down the right by Denilson but the England winger’s cross-cum-shot flew just wide of Friedel’s left-hand post.
Denilson was booked for a late challenge on Petrov soon after Friedel had done well to collect a Walcott cross from the left.
Friedel managed to get behind a Fabregas drive on 14 but he couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Davies was there to clean up with Gallas looking to pounce.
A Young earnt a penalty for the claret and blue troops four minutes later as he was felled in the area. He then stepped up but his low shot was well saved by Almunia.
Sidwell then broke from midfield but his shot on the turn was too weak to trouble the Arsenal shot-stopper.
A Young showed his array of skills to beat two in midfield on 31 before firing marginally wide of Almunia’s right-hand post. The chance had been created by Sidwell, who was really dominating the central ground with a mixture of skill and grit.
A Young was proving a real handful for the Gunners backline as he again burst forward at pace but his final shot was straight at Almunia, who was being kept very busy.
Barry saw another shot parried by Almunia from close-range as Villa again broke with real quality on 36 minutes.
Petrov’s cracking drive looked to be on target with the clock showing three minutes of the half remaining but the Arsenal defence did well to block the piledriver.
The game continued in an open fashion after the break, and Wenger decided he needed extra cutting edge by introducing Adebayor in place of Abou Diaby.
But Villa had a clear game plan – it was to use the pace of Young and Agbonlahor at every opportunity and they continued to threaten on the counter-attack.
They were central figures as Villa got the goal their enterprise deserved with 20 minutes remaining.
Bacary Sagna was down injured as Villa attacked down the right, and when Young whipped in a dangerous cross Agbonlahor pressurised Clichy into heading past Almunia.
Goal: Gael Clichy (O.G – 70) – Arsenal 0-1 Aston Villa
Arsenal were stung into a response, and a minute later Adebayor’s header bounced on to the post and away to safety.
Villa’s threat on the break was even greater as Arsenal pushed in desperation for an equaliser, and it resulted in them doubling their advantage after 80 minutes.
Agbonlahor latched on to a long clearance as Arsenal waited in vain for a free-kick to be given and he shook off the flimsy attentions of William Gallas to beat Almunia with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Goal: Gabriel Agbonlahor (80) – Arsenal 0-2 Aston Villa
It was a terrible Arsenal performance, despite Adebayor’s efforts, the game finished 2-0 to Villa. Arsenal’s title hopes now rely on the top four losing against each other..
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