Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 2 – McGinn and Wesley goals cancelled out in devastating Emirates defeat
It’s been the story of the season so far and, at the Emirates, mistakes cost Villa dearly yet again.
Villa, though, mixed it and twice went ahead at Arsenal, John McGinn scoring after 19 minutes before Brazilian striker Wesley scored his second of the season to make it 2-1 after a Pepe penalty levelled for the hosts after the hour-mark.
Dean Smith’s valiant troops capitulated, though. Arsenal had 10 men after seeing Ainsley Maitland-Niles sent off for two bookings in the first half but couldn’t take advantage. A three-minute horror show then begun, first Tyrone Mings tried to be all too cute in attempting to head to teammate Neil Taylor before substitute Callum Chambers pounced to lift the ball over Tom Heaton to make it 2-2.
Then, just 180 seconds later, Bjorn Engels brought down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the edge of the area before the six-goal hot shot curled a speculative free-kick into the corner to turn the game on its head.
Villa will be left kicking themselves as ugly mistakes reared their ugly head once more. As Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure, Villa found it tough and were completely out-played in the second half.
The moment of the match, though, was Mings’ mistake. The defender, usually ice-cool in situations like that, made the wrong choice and his error was gobbled up as Chambers fired home. It was the turning point and undid all of Villa’s hard work.
Throughout the first half, Villa continued to frustrate the hosts, soaking up the pressure before breaking with real conviction. The Gunners were restricted to a handful of half-chances, with the best of them coming after just one minute, Maitland-Niles ballooning an effort over in a good areas inside Villa’s 18-yard box after being picked out by debutant Bukayo Saka, the teenager also firing a pot-shot at goal before being replaced at the break.
Arsenal, though, battled back, winning somewhat of a controversial penalty as Jon Moss adjudged Engels to have brought down Matteo Guendouzi, the Frenchman going down so softly before £72million winger Pepe dusted himself down to fire the spot-kick straight down the middle.
Just sixty seconds later, the away fans were in raptures, Grealish driving brilliantly at the Arsenal defence, taking on three before finding Wesley – the Brazilian making no mistake from just a couple of yards out to poke past Leno.
Arsenal, despite having 10 man, continued to press and through Chambers and then Aubameyang, put Villa to the sword in what’ll be a harsh, harsh lesson for Smith’s side.
VILLA (4-1-4-1): Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor; Nakamba (Hourihane, 85); El Ghazi, Grealish, McGinn, Trezeguet (Elmohamady, 68); Wesley.
Subs: Steer, Konsa, Elmohamady, Lansbury, Hourihane, Jota, Davis.
ARSENAL (4-3-3): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Ceballos (Torreira, 71), Xhaka (Willock, 71), Guendouzi; Pepe, Aubameyang, Saka (Chambers, HT).
Subs: Martinez, Chambers, Torreira, Willock, Nelson, Ozil, Martinelli.
REF: Jon Moss
BOOKED: Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Aubameyang
SENT OFF: Maitland-Niles
GOALS: McGinn (19), Pepe (59, pen), Wesley (60), Chambers (81), Aubameyang (84).