Arsenal surge back to beat Aston Villa in classic
Arsenal fought back to grab a dramatic late win at Aston Villa to send out a message that they are still well in this Premier League title race.
Their first win in four Premier League matches proved the Gunners are up for the fight.
Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho twice put Villa ahead in the first half after Bukayo Saka had equalized but Arsenal dominated the second half and after Oleksandr Zinchenko equalized, Jorginho’s 93rd minute shot hit the crossbar, bounced off Emiliano Martinez’s head and went in.
Gabriel Martinelli then made it 4-2 in stoppage time to seal a superb comeback win.
The victory moves Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League table and the manner of their comeback victory, plus Man City dropping points at Nottingham Forest, will give the Gunners huge belief they can keep this title race going.
For Villa, this defeat is their third in a row as Unai Emery’s side were dangerous throughout but couldn’t cope with Arsenal’s quality in the final third.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
Don’t rule out the gallant Gunners
Arsenal looked like they would cough up two points in this game but they never stopped believing and found a way to win it. If they are to win the title this season, this feels like a pivotal moment. Trailing 2-1 at half time, Mikel Arteta must have said something inspirational at the break because they dominated the second half and in the end were deserved winners. Zinchenko and Jorginho (via the head of former goalkeeper Emi Martinez) were the unlikely heroes and that is what you need in a title push. Everybody stood tall for Arsenal and despite Villa being dangerous on the break, Aaron Ramsdale did his job with a fine save at 2-2 and then Jorginho’s late strike seal the big comeback win. After everyone doubted their title credentials following a defeat at home to Man City, Arteta said he now has more belief that his team can win the title. They proved that belief was well placed with a victory at Villa which was full of character, grit and determination. Beware Man City: this Arsenal side aren’t giving up their title push without a fight.
Mikel Arteta: ‘We totally merited the win’
“Today I think we can take two big lessons. In the first half we did the simple things wrong and in the second half we raised our individual level and did the simple things right. We totally merited the win,” Arteta told BBC’s Match of the Day. “Jorginho produced an incredible moment. For us it will be Jorginho’s goal. Psychological it was really tough to get that result against Manchester City and then less than three days we come to Aston Villa and win which is a difficult thing to do. Character, quality and having the right temperament and personality, not throw our toys away, emotionally I think we coped really well.”
Aston Villa vs Arsenal player ratings; Stars of the show
Bukayo Saka: Fine finish for his goal in the first half and led Arsenal’s second half comeback.
Martin Odegaard: Missed a glorious chance but dictated the tempo of the game and was k
Ollie Watkins: Scored a beauty early on and always a threat on the counter.
Villa travel to Everton on Saturday, Feb. 25, while Arsenal head to Leicester City on the same day.
How to watch Aston Villa vs Arsenal live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7:30am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: USA NetworkOnline: Stream via NBCSports.com
GOALLLL! Game. Set. Match. After Emi Martinez came off for a corner kick, Arsenal break and Martinelli slots home into an empty net. 4-2.
GOALLLL! They’ve done it. In the 93rd minute. Jorginho’s beauty of a strike hits the crossbar, bounces off the head of Emiliano Martinez and goes in. Bedlam in the away end. Arsenal’s fans, players and Mikel Arteta go wild. 3-2.
SAVEEE! Aaron Ramsdale tips Leon Bailey’s thunderous effort onto the crossbar and the ball bounces out. So close to a stunning goal for Villa as Bailey did so well to control, run and spank an effort at goal. Brilliant save from Ramsdale.
WHAT A CHANCE! Nketiah nicks the ball off Konsa and plays in Martin Odegaard who is wide open, 12 yards out, but the Arsenal skipper scuffs his shot wide. What a huge moment.
CLOSE! Eddie Nketiah dinks the ball over the top after a lovely ball from Odegaard. Seems like there will be only one winner now. It is all Arsenal.
GOALLL! There is the goal. After a short corner, Zinchenko with a brilliant low finish and Arsenal totally deserve that equalizer. They have cranked up the pressure. 2-2.
Arsenal cranking up the pressure now. Villa dropping deeper. Saka almost gets in over the top.
CROSSBAR! Ben White’s clipped cross finds Nketiah at the back post and his header hits the bar and goes over. Better from Arsenal.
Bukayo Saka is down injured after he dragged a shot wide. Not great for Arsenal but it looks like he will carry on for now.
Second half is underway! Can Arsenal roar back? Or will Villa extend their lead? Huge 45 minutes for Mikel Arteta’s side...
HALF TIME: Aston Villa 2-1 Arsenal. What a first half at Villa Park. The Gunners are still in this but Unai Emery’s Villa are so dangerous on the counter and have taken their two big chances so far. Just like in midweek, Arsenal have been sloppy defensively and have been punished for big mistakes.
Very tight after that Arsenal equalizer. Villa trying to sit in a solid 4-5-1 and Arsenal look the more likely to grab the next goal.
GOALLLL! Coutinho puts Aston Villa 2-1 up and that is a fantastic team goal. Lovely play down the left from Kamara and Moreno and a superb dummy from Buendia before Coutinho sent Ramsdale the wrong way.
GOALLLL! Wow. What a hit from Bukayo Saka. Incredible volley. Poor clearance from Tyrone Mings but that was a lovely finish from Saka. Arsenal have responded superbly to going behind early. Aston Villa 1-1 Arsenal. Just over 15 minutes in. What a start.
CHANCE! Ben White dinks it in for Eddie Nketiah and he looks certain to score but somehow Tyrone Mings gets a touch on his header from a yard out and it goes over, and then the offside flag goes up. Wow. Incredible clearance.
GOALLLL! With the first real attack of the game Villa lead. Ollie Watkins is played in over the top, surges away and smashes home across goal. What a goal from Aston Villa and they lead Arsenal 1-0. Tom Hanks will be delighted with that.
KICK OFF! We are underway at a loud Villa Park. Let’s see if Arsenal can respond to that midweek defeat. Celebrity Villa fan Tom Hanks is in the house. It is a BIG day in Birmingham. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself with that one.
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
All of the focus will be on Arsenal and how they respond to that home defeat, their first of the season, to Manchester City. All is not lost for Arteta’s young side and if they can cut out some of the big defensive mistakes and also finish the chances they are creating, they will hang in their with Man City for the rest of the season. The fine details alluded them in their top of the table clash but they’ve been very good at being ruthless and scoring early throughout this season.
Villa’s midfield could cause them problems though as Kamara and Luiz have been excellent since Emery’s arrival and Watkins and Bailey have also looked electric in attack.
Aston Villa team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Diego Carlos (Achilles), Jed Steer (Achilles)
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Gabriel Jesus (knee), Mohamed Elneny (knee), Thomas Partey (back)