Expecting a tough afternoon away at the Emirates, Dean Smith’s side was unchanged from the scoreless draw last Monday against West Ham, except for Trezeguet who was back from suspension back in for Jota.
The game was open from the start, with half chances and some shots on goal for both sides in the opening 5-10 minutes. End to end stuff, with one of the best chances falling to John McGinn’s right-footed strike which was saved.
Then, in the 20’, McGinn took his chance. A whipped ball in from Anwar El Ghazi on the wing falls right on the Scot’s foot behind the disorganized Arsenal defense and thumps the ball past the keeper to give Villa the lead.
I wasn’t going to note the first half yellow cards that both Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Granit Xhaka recieved, but it’s important because in the 41’, Maitland-Niles was sent off for a second yellow.
Villa ended the first half up a goal and up a man, 1-0.
Arsenal took off their youngster Bukayo Saka at halftime, and replaced him with Calum Chambers.
More possession and chances for Villa to begin the second half, but nothing to show. And of course, we were punished for it.
In the 58’, Bjorn Engels dove in on Matteo Guendouzi and the Arsenal midfielder won a penalty kick. Nicolas Pepe smashed the ball down the middle as Tom Heaton dove wide.
Immediately, Villa responded. John McGinn found space and dragged his shot wide. But following that, Jack Grealish got involved and drove forward to the byline before squaring it for Wesley to tap home.
The big forward got in and posted up in front David Luiz. The Brazilian forward won the battle against the Brazilian defender in this one, and Villa took a 2-1 advantage with 30 minutes to play.
Ahmed Elmohamady was brought on for Trezeguet as Villa gave an initial push for a third goal, but then sat back and played defense as Arsenal pressed for an equalizer. Sure enough, they got that equalizer. A bad bit of defending as Tyrone Mings and Neil Taylor failed to clear it and Calum Chambers finished to level it in the 81’.
Then, just over two minutes later, Bjorn Engels gave away a free kick just outside of the box and was shown a yellow card for it. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepped up and smashed the ball in from the ensuing kick, 20 yards out. 3-2 Arsenal in the 84’.
Dean Smith reacted and finally decided to make more changes, as both Anwar El Ghazi and Marvelous Nakamba were taken off for Henri Lansbury and Conor Hourihane to try and salvage a point, after giving away all three.
Some more half chances for Aston Villa, and even a penalty shout, but nothing came from it in the end.
Final score from the Emirates, 3-2 Arsenal.