Aston Villa wanted to bounce back after a lackluster midweek performance against West Ham and their opponent to do so was Arsenal without the services of their starting goalkeeper and David Luiz. In the net for Villa, of course, is Emi Martinez who spent years waiting for a chance to play for Arsenal.
Dean Smith brought back in Marvelous Nakamba for Douglas Luiz and Bertrand Traore regained his spot.
The winger made his presence felt right away chasing down a loose ball on the right and taking it past a defender. He then pulled it back to Ollie Watkins in the box who fired it home with the help of a deflection. Less than two minutes on the clock, and Aston Villa were off and running with the lead.
Love to see it.
⚽️ Ollie Watkins gets his tenth Premier League goal of the season inside two minutes against Arsenal— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 6, 2021
He's the first Villa player to reach double figures in the top-flight since Christian Benteke
What a signing!
⏱️ 5' | 1-0 #AVLARS pic.twitter.com/Kfj4UpIuMR
Arsenal grew into the game after the opening goal but Mings and co at the back did very well to prevent any type of real chance. Villa’s front line also deserve credit for their high pressure on the Arsenal defensive line — especially Ollie Watkins who much just be a nightmare to try to play against.
Just short of the half an hour mark, Grealish gave away a dangerous free kick near the box. The Granit Xhaka free kick was very good but Martinez was better.
Right after the save, Villa had the the best chance from open play — Bertrand Traore tried to chip the keeper after a very good move to get into the box. Sadly, the shot did work and the lead stayed at one. I get what he was trying to do, but there were easier ways to score from that position.
Ezri Konsa picked up a yellow moments later for stopping a counter attack. Arsenal fans and players wanted a red card, Villa players wanted a foul on Saka. The referee settled on a yellow without hesitation. And Nakamba picked up a yellow for another foul on Saka a few minutes later.
Halftime came and went with no changes to either side.
Arsenal keeper Matt Ryan had two early saves against Watkins. The first was a shot from distance where Ryan was forced to dive to his right, then a follow up cross was headed at the keeper by Ollie.
Villa then had an excellent counter attack led by Jack Grealish but in the end Ross Barkley fired it wide. Thomas Partey picked up a yellow for a foul on Nakamba during the attack.
Villa made their first change with 25 minutes to go with Trezeguet on for Traore. The move likely for fresh legs versus a poor performance — Traore was very good for some spells.
Even with the fresh legs — the match was all Arsenal pushing against a stout Villa defense. Dean Smith replaced a tiring Ross Barkley with Jacob Ramsey at 78’.
Watkins found Grealish near the box in the next minute. Grealish tried a left-footed shot but Ryan made a very good save and the rebound didn’t fall kindly for any of the surrounding Villa players.
It was Grealish to Watkins in the 83’ when Ollie had the chance to seal the win but his rolling shot was just wide of the far post. Arsenal went down and Odegaard fired a first time shot over the bar to show that neither team was conceding the match. Watkins had another shot saved as the chances piled up and the nerves continued to grow. Then Villa sat back and Arsenal were allowed to come at the host.
Arsenal knocked on the door, Martinez did very very well to gather cross after cross and one dangerous bouncing ball in the box. And he may have celebrated the most after a LOOOONG five minutes added. Villa’s defense did enough to hold a lead for 88’. Bloody brilliant.
Up the Villa!