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  • By Charlie Stong at Emirates Stadium

Gunners dominant in 3-1 victory over Aston Villa

Arsenal 3

Aston Villa 1

Arsenal responded to a lacklustre performance against Crystal Palace on Monday night with a commanding 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium this evening.

Thomas Partey’s first goal for the Gunners – together with a controversial strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and one from Emile Smith Rowe - put the Gunners 3-0 up, before Jacob Ramsey’s fine consolation for the visitors 10 minutes from time.

The home side were dominant almost throughout, driven forward by the returning Alexandre Lacazette, the marauding Nuno Tavares and the guile of Smith Rowe.

Villa hardly had a kick in the first 45 minutes – and although they huffed and puffed early in the second period – likely the result of some harsh half-time words from boss Dean Smith - the result was never really in doubt.

Villa striker Ollie Watkins was booked inside first 30 seconds for throwing Gabriel, who was trying to shepherd a through-ball back to Aaron Ramsdale, to the ground and that set the tone for a dismal night for the Midlanders.

If the Gunners were slow and sluggish in the 2-2 draw against Palace, they were the polar opposite here, creating chance after chance – and it really should have been more than 2-0 at the break.

Early on Aubameyng miscued an overhead before Tavares, in for the injured Kieran Tierney at left-back, burst into the Villa box but blazed his shot well over the bar.

Aubameyang had the ball in the net after 10 minutes but referee Craig Pawson had blown for an innocuous-looking foul in the build-up.

Arsenal were relentless in the opening moments, and should have taken the lead on 20 minutes when Tyrone Mings failed to clear Bukayo Saka’s free-kick from the right, and Partey prodded an effort back off the crossbar.

But just three minutes later Partey opened his Gunners’ account, heading home a corner from Smith Rowe.

Arsenal should have been two up on the half hour. Tavares found Saka with a perfectly-weighted ball across the face of the Villa box, but Saka’s shot was saved by Emiliano Martinez when the youngster really should have scored.

Tavares then saw a rasping drive held by the former Gunners’ goalkeeper. At the other end a cross from Emiliano Buendia easily held by Ramsdale was the closest the visitors came to anywhere near threatening in the first period.

Partey headed over an effort from another corner – this time from the other side of the pitch - before late first-half drama.

As the clock ticked into injury time the Emirates crowd screamed for a penalty when Lacazette went down under a challenge from Matt Targett.

Pawson waved away the appeal but a full minute later, just as he was blowing his half-time whistle, he was summoned to the touchline by VAR.

The evidence showed that Lacazette had got to the ball just ahead of Targett, whose challenge took away the Frenchman’s foot.

Aubameyang’s penalty was saved by Martinez but the striker converted the rebound, and the Gunners took a more than deserved 2-0 lead down the tunnel.

Smith brought on winger Leon Bailey at half-time in an effort to try to impose something on the game. That, plus a few probable harsh words from the boss at the break, seemed to work as Villa started the second period far more brightly, John McGinn seeing an effort deflected wide. At the other end Targett blocked from Saka.

But Arsenal made it safe on 55 minutes - and the third was all about Smith Rowe.

The youngster first blocked McGinn’s probing pass at one end of the field, then sprinted to the other as Arsenal broke. Aubameyang played Smith Rowe in down the left and his effort was deflected past Martinez by Mings.

Buendia should have reduced the deficit five minutes later when alone in the penalty area, but Ramsdale spread himself and made a fine save from what was Villa’s best effort of the game thus far.

Martinez then kept out a drive from Aubameyang as Arsenal looked for a fourth.

Villa did at least have the consolation of scoring the goal of the night. Sub Jacob Ramsey curling a beautiful effort into the top right-hand corner from the edge of the box.

But the damage was already done and the Gunners took the points.


Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Partey, Gabriel, Saka, Lacazette (Odegaard, 66), Smith Rowe, Aubameyang (Martinelli, 90), Tomiyasu, Tavares, Sambi Lokonga (Maitland-Niles, 72)

Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Targett, Konsa, Mings, Luiz, McGinn, Buendia (Ramsey, 68), Watkins, Tuanzebe (Bailey, h/t), Ings (El Ghazy, 72)

Referee: Craig Pawson


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