Aston Villa 2
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s bullet free kick gave 10-man Arsenal victory against Aston Villa at the Emirates this afternoon.
Goals from John McGinn and Wesley looked to have given Villa victory after Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off for two bookable offences.
But late goals from Calum Chambers then, with just seven minutes left, Aubameyang, gave the Gunners all three points and lifted them into the top four.
McGinn gave the visitors the lead after 20 minutes, turning in Anwar El Ghazi’s through-ball as the Arsenal defence pushed out.
Then, just a couple of minutes before the break, Maitland-Niles received the second of his two yellow cards, for a late challenge on Neil Taylor.
The Gunners equalised from the penalty spot just before the hour mark, Matteo Guendouzi bundled over in the box by Villa’s Bjorn Engels. Pepe smashed the spot-kick straight down the middle for his first Arsenal goal.
Three minutes later Jack Grealish’s fine run and centre was turned in by Wesley.
But then came the Arsenal late show. With 10 minutes left Guendouzi’s cross from the left was cut back into the danger zone by Chambers, and when Villa failed to clear the ball, the Englishman was on hand to poke high into the net.
And three minutes later Aubameyang cracked home the winner form 25 yards to send the Emirates wild.
Villa started the brighter of the sides, McGinn allowed far too much time on the edge of the Arsenal box to twist and turn not once but twice – but both his efforts were easily saved by Berndt Leno in the Arsenal goal.
The home side responded with a period of their own, and efforts from Pepe and Aubameyang.
Then what looked to have been the pivotal moment of the game came just before the break, when Maitland-Niles’ tackle on Taylor was adjudged to have been high. Replays showed he got the man as well as the ball but could consider himself slightly unlucky to receive two yellows from pretty much his only two tackle of the whole game.
Moments later Sokratis went down holding his face after a clash with Wesley, but replays showed the Arsenal man was simply trying to get Jon Moss to even up the numbers, and he was fortunate to escape punishment of his own.
And in the second half it looked as though Aston Villa would be returning to the Midlands with all three points, until Chambers and Aubameyang had their say.
Arsenal: Leno (Yellow), Sokratis, Ceballos (Torreira), Aubameyang (Yellow), Maitland-Niles (Yellowx2), Pepe (Yellow), Luiz, Guendouzi (Yellow), Kolasinac, Xhaka (Yellow, Willock)) Saka (Chambers)
Subs: Ozil, Torreira, Chambers, Nelson, Mrtinez, Willock, Martinelli
Aston Villa: Heaton, Taylor, McGinn, Wesley, Grealish, Nakamba, Trezeguet (Elmohamedy), El Ghazi, Engels (Yellow) Guilbet, Mings
Subs: Lansbury, Steer, Hourihane, Konza, Jota, Elmohamady, Davis
Referee: Jon Moss