Arsenal extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six games with a 3-1 defeat of Aston Villa at the Emirates. Goals from Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangand Emile Smith Rowe helped the Gunners return to winning ways after consecutive draws. Jacob Ramsey pulled a goal back for the Villans late on.
Mikel Arteta’s side were dominant throughout the match, and also created the better chances. However, only the goalkeeping heroics of their former player Emiliano Martinez kept the Gunners from bagging a few more goals.
he victory takes Arsenal up to ninth in the standings, having made immense progress since their torrid start to their 2021-22 campaign. On that note, here are the 5 key elements of the game.
#1. Emiliano Martinez impresses against Arsenal
Both goalkeepers on the night, Aaron Ramsdale and Emiliano Martinez, made several key saves in the game to come up big for their respective sides. It was almost as if both men were keen to outdo the other.
Ramsdale, whose signing from Sheffield United was considered a ‘gamble’ by many of his critics, has quietly impressed so far. He delivered another encouraging performance in goal.
He made three saves on the night, most notably. Ramsdale kept out Emiliano Buendia around the hour mark by stretching his legs out in what was a pivotal moment in the game.
Martinez, his opposite number, was the busier of the two goalkeepers, though. He shone on his Emirates return, making twice as many saves as Ramsdale on the night. He was the single biggest reason Arsenal didn’t score more than three goals on the night.
The Argentine read the game brilliantly, and was on hand to stop incoming dangers. He didn’t hesitate to come off his line to collect the ball, keeping things tidy inside the box.
His save off Saka in the first half took the cake. Martinez also kept out Aubameyang’s penalty, but was beaten by the rebound. That was one of the few sore notes in an otherwise impressive outing.
#2.VAR gets it right about the penalty
The video assistant referee was called into action in the first half when Matt Targett fouled Alexandre Lacazette inside the area. Referee Craig Pawson, who had initially asked to play on, reviewed the incident on the pitchside monitor, and called for a penalty.
Targett attempted to block the ball from reaching the Frenchman, who got ahead of him in time. But the left-back caught Lacazette when in full motion, in the process fouling the player.
Repays showed the Villa left-back got his boots well before Lacazette made contact with the ball. That left the match official with no choice, but to point to the spot.
#3 Leon Bailey revives Aston Villa in the second half
Against Arsenal, Aston Villa were boosted by the return of Leon Bailey from an injury he sustained against Everton. He started on the bench. But with his side struggling to create anything meaningful in the first half, Dean Smith subbed Bailey on at the break. That worked wonders, as Villa began to look bright and started creating chances.
The Jamaican, signed from Bayer Leverkusenin the summer, was a lively attacking presence on the right. He took the game to Arsenal with his driving runs. In one such instance, he pressured Lokonga to giving the ball away.
The move eventually came to nothing, though, as Ramsdale comfortably saved Bailey’s tame effort. Nevertheless, Bailey got the assist for Ramsey’s goal, dancing his way through three red shirts before squaring the ball to the latter.
It’s still early days at the club for him, but Bailey has already shown the impact he can have for his new team.
#4. Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe is a world-class talent
As if it wasn’t clear already, Emile Smith Roweshowed what an amazing talent he is. The young Englishman scored and assisted once apiece in the match to play a big part in Arsenal’s victory on the night.
He was menacing throughout, getting onto the end of crosses and linking up plays. With four key passes on the night, the 21-year-old was Arsenal’s focal point of creativity. He also set up Partey for the Gunners’ opening goal with a nice corner-kick.
However, his real contribution came in the second half, when he fired home Arsenal’s third goal of the night. That effectively ended the game as a contest. Intercepting McGinn’s pass from he deep, Smith Rowe played a neat one-two with Aubameyang before thumping home a fine shot.
Having drawn a blank in his opening five games, Emile Smith Rowe has now been directly involved in four goals in as many matches. That indicates he’s finally getting back to form again.
#5.Arsenal continue unbeaten run
Arsenal were the butt of all jokes earlier on in their campaign. Losses in their first three games, including a 2-0 defeat to league debutants Brentford in their season-opener, put the Gunners in the relegation zone.
Fast forward to the present day, though, the Gunners are flying high, going the next six games unbeaten. This was also their fourth victory during this period, taking them up to ninth in the league table.
What’s special about this victory is that Arsenal were utterly dominant, creating chances clinically and looking like their former selves. If they can maintain this form going forward, a top-six finish could be well within the realms of possibility.