Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa: Gunners torch hapless Villa with deadly counters
The home side dominated from start to finish as Arsenal dominated Aston Villa at the Emirates with a comprehensive 5-0 victory thanks mostly to a deadly counter-attack that struck three times in the second half.
Aston Villa capped their disappointing day with a dubious club record - that of 612 minutes (and counting) since their last goal in Premier League play.
Arsenal had a chance straight away, inside two minutes as Theo Walcott sprung free on goal, but Jores Okore recovered to make a key tackle before the shot could come off.
That was a harbinger of what would come. Aaron Ramsey missed a chance five minutes later from outside the box, but Olivier Giroud would put the Gunners up on eight minutes when Mesut Ozil sprung him through on the breakaway with a sublime flick. The Frenchman made no mistake, lifting the ball over Brad Guzan one-on-one.
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The home side continued as the brighter team, with numerous chances through the first half-hour, and Santi Cazorla pinged the post on a 25th minute shot after cutting into the top of the box. Arsenal could have had more but on occasion tried to overplay their attacks, with a few too many passes resulting in the breakdown of their openings. On 30 minutes another slicing run by Cazorla from the touchline put Mesut Ozil into a position to score but the offsides flag went up as the ball hit the back of the net.
With Aston Villa creeping towards 600 straight minutes without a Premier League goal, their best chance wasn’t much of one, as Christian Benteke tried an off-balance shot but he barely made contact and Hector Bellerin cleared.
They had a better opportunity four minutes before halftime as a long ball found Andreas Weimann near the right post but it was covered well by the Arsenal defense again. Arsenal broke immediately, but Theo Walcott bundled the buildup as the Gunners looked to threaten.
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Three minutes into the second half, Villa broke its club record for longest goalless streak, at 570 minutes and counting. Arsenal, however, kept scoring. With Kieran Richardson losing out in the Arsenal half, the Gunners broke. This time it was Giroud’s turn to feed Ozil, who slotted past Guzan neatly into the far corner for a 2-0 lead just 10 minutes after the halftime break.
Arsenal would add a third when Cazorla found Walcott on the break, and the England international scored his first of the season in his first start for 14 months to put the Gunners up 3-0. Cazorla would snatch a goal of his own from the spot after substitute Chuba Akpom was chopped down by Guzan in the box, and the Spaniard ripped his penalty right at the American ‘keeper who got both hands to it but couldn’t stop the powerful blast. Bellerin would pick up his first Arsenal goal in stoppage time to rip the wounds wide open.
That would wrap things up comprehensively, and Arsenal secured its third straight Premier League win, five in its last six, and fifth straight in all competitions as the Gunners go level with Southampton on points, just out of a Champions League spot on goal differential. Villa, meanwhile, are in a precarious spot just three points above the drop and haven’t scored in the league since December 20.
Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey (Flamini 77'), Walcott (Rosicky 70'), Cazorla, Ozil; Giroud (Chuba 70').
Goals: Giroud 8', Ozil 56', Walcott 63', Cazorla (pen) 75', Bellerin 90+2'
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Richardson, Sanchez (Westwood 76'), Delph, Cleverley (Agbonlahor 66'), Weimann (Sinclair 66'), Gil, Benteke.