Villa add to Arsenal's woes

El Clasico

Aston Villa completed the league double over Arsenal after registering a 1-0 win at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners made two enforced changes from the loss to Wolverhamton Wanderers, as goalkeeper Bernd Leno and David Luiz were sent off in that game and they were replaced by debutant shot-stopper Mat Ryan and Gabriel in the line-up.

Villa had a dream start after Ollie Watkins fired them ahead barely two minutes into the game with a deflected shot in the centre of the box after Bertrand Traore latched onto a loose ball at the back, beat his marker on the right wing and delivered a square pass.

The visitors came close to finding the equaliser on the half-hour mark after Granit Xhaka curled a good free-kick from the edge of the box towards the top corner but former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made a great save at full stretch.

Mikel Arteta's charges were pressurising Villa in the closing phase of the first stanza and Nicolas Pepe had a chance to equalise just before the break with a volley at the near post that missed wide and the hosts went to the break leading by an odd goal.

With the game was opening up early in the second stanza, Pepe came close to levelling matters for the Gunners six minutes inside the second stanza with a right footed shot inside the box that missed the far bottom corner by a whisker.

Arsenal were creating chances especially after the introduction of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the hour-mark and Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard five minutes later but they were not clinical enough.

Jack Grealish came close to putting the game to bed for the hosts in the last 11 minutes after cutting to his right foot inside the box and curled a strike towards the far post but Ryan made a great save before Watkins also came sent an effort inches wide minutes later.

Arteta's men had the momentum in the dying minutes, keeping Villa in their own half but they were kept at bay as Smith's charges held on to leapfrog Tottenham up in eighth place while the Gunners were stuck in tenth place.

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