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Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Villa Park
Aston Villa v Arsenal - Olivier Giroud

Arsenal leapfrogged Manchester City and Chelsea to return to the top of the Premier League with victory at Aston Villa.

It was a win that was, for the most part, comfortable in the extreme as goals from Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud inside a minute in the first half gave Arsene Wenger's team the lead their superiority fully deserved.

Arsenal goals top quality - Wenger

Villa had spent much of the game chasing shadows and being outclassed but finally managed to give the visitors some anxious moments when Christian Benteke scored his first goal since 14 September with a diving header 14 minutes from time.

The Gunners held on for what was a vital, and deserved, win as they extended an unbeaten record at Villa Park to 15 matches stretching back to December 1998.

And there was further good news, especially with Theo Walcott ruled out for the rest of the season, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned for the first time since the opening day as a late substitute after recovering from a knee problem.

Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for another substitute, Tomas Rosicky, who suffered a nose injury in a challenge with Gabriel Agbonlahor.

If Wenger had any complaints on a night when the Gunners went a point clear at the top of the table, it will be that they did not turn their dominance into more goals and somehow allowed Villa the chance of an unlikely point in an uncomfortable spell near the end.

The hosts, meanwhile, only came to life when it was too late and manager Paul Lambert must somehow find a way of injecting confidence into a side desperately needing the menacing figure of Benteke to regain last season's form.

It was all a far cry from the opening day of season when Villa left The Emirates full of optimism after beating Arsenal 3-1.

Lambert pleased with second half

There could not have been a sharper contrast in form between the two sides. Arsenal had won a north London derby FA Cup third round tie against Spurs while Villa had suffered the embarrassment of a home defeat by League One strugglers Sheffield United.

And how it showed in the early phases as Arsenal tormented Villa in possession, Giroud coming closest with a glancing header from one of several testing crosses from Bacary Sagna.

Lambert was forced into a reshuffle when defender Nathan Baker was struck full in the face by Serge Gnabry's powerful shot. He was treated for around eight minutes before being taken off on a stretcher. It looked a real concern but Villa were relieved to report he had only suffered mild concussion.

Leandro Bacuna came on and for a very brief spell Villa actually caused Arsenal concern, Karim El Ahmadi wasting their best chance when he sent a sidefoot finish over the top from 12 yards.

The only irritation for Wenger was whether Arsenal would provide the final flourish to all their fine approach play - and that was banished with two superbly constructed goals within the space of seconds.

Wilshere made the breakthrough after 34 minutes, sliding home from inside the area but so much credit must go to that graceful creator Mesut Ozil, whose pass in behind Matt Lowton enabled Nacho Monreal to set up the England midfielder.

And the game had barely restarted when Giroud added a fine second, Wilshere making the goal with a pass that let the striker score emphatically past Villa keeper Brad Guzan.

Benteke had cut a frustrated figure but he demonstrated his threat with an athletic volley that was narrowly off target before giving Villa hope with a stooping far-post header from Lowton's brilliant cross.

It gave a very subdued Villa Park brief hope that they might rescue a point but Arsenal held on for another important away win.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert:

"Nathan Baker was concussed. He took a blow to the side of his head. That was dangerous and it rocked us a bit - we had worked all week on the system - but thankfully he's a lot better. He throws himself into things, that's what he does.

"In the second half we were excellent, we looked great and a real threat. We were lifted by the goal. It's not easy playing Arsenal - they are title contenders but everybody can see we gave them a game.

"You have to give us credit. We came into it but we might have snuck a draw."

Line-ups

Aston Villa

Formation 3-5-1-1

  • 1Guzan
  • 34Lowton
  • 14Luna
  • 6Clark
  • 2BakerSubstituted forBacunaat 21'minutes
  • 4Vlaar
  • 8El AhmadiBooked at 2minsSubstituted forWeimannat 73'minutes
  • 16Delph
  • 20Benteke
  • 11AgbonlahorBooked at 85mins
  • 15Westwood

Substitutes

  • 7Bacuna
  • 9Helenius
  • 10Weimann
  • 12Albrighton
  • 13Steer
  • 18Sylla
  • 24Tonev

Arsenal

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Szczesny
  • 3Sagna
  • 17MonrealBooked at 32minsSubstituted forGibbsat 66'minutes
  • 20Flamini
  • 4Mertesacker
  • 6Koscielny
  • 44GnabrySubstituted forRosickyat 69'minutesSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 86'minutes
  • 10WilshereBooked at 90mins
  • 12Giroud
  • 11Özil
  • 19Cazorla

Substitutes

  • 7Rosicky
  • 9Podolski
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 21Fabianski
  • 25Jenkinson
  • 28Gibbs
  • 30Park
Referee:
Neil Swarbrick
Attendance:
36,097

Match Stats

Home TeamAston VillaAway TeamArsenal
Possession
Home36%
Away64%
Shots
Home11
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home12
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Aston Villa 1, Arsenal 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Aston Villa 1, Arsenal 2.

  3. Booking

    Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Ron Vlaar.

  5. Post update

    Offside, Aston Villa. Fabian Delph tries a through ball, but Christian Benteke is caught offside.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jack Wilshere.

  7. Post update

    Offside, Arsenal. Santiago Cazorla tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

  8. Post update

    Attempt saved. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Matthew Lowton.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).

  10. Post update

    Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Tomas Rosicky because of an injury.

  12. Booking

    Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  13. Post update

    Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa).

  15. Post update

    Corner, Aston Villa. Conceded by Per Mertesacker.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Matthew Lowton.

  17. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  18. Post update

    Delay in match Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal) because of an injury.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Matthew Lowton.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Aston Villa 1, Arsenal 2. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Matthew Lowton with a cross.

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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Monday 13th January 2014

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Arsenal21153341192248
2Man City21152459233647
3Chelsea21144340192146
4Liverpool21133551262542
5Everton21118234191541
6Tottenham2112452625140
7Man Utd21114635241137
8Newcastle2110382927233
9Southampton218672723430
10Hull2165102227-523
11Aston Villa2165102027-723
12Stoke215792235-1322
13Swansea2156102630-421
14West Brom214982328-521
15Norwich2155111735-1820
16Fulham2161142246-2419
17West Ham2146112130-918
18Cardiff2146111534-1918
19Sunderland2145121934-1517
20Crystal Palace2152141331-1817
View full Premier League table

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