Arsenal cement fourth spot in PL

English Premier League

Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth spot in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.

Two enforced changes had Arsenal miss goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Gabriel Martinelli from the loss to Liverpool, while veteran Ashley Young made a rare start for Villa.

A dream start was on the cards for the Gunners following three minutes from an attempt in the area by Emile Smith Rowe off a smart move, but the attacker went over.

More chances for the travellers after seven minutes showed when a teasing ball out wide nearly forced Ezri Konsa to an own-goal fortunately Emiliano Martinez made a fine stop.

Arsenal broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark after a short free-kick right of the area by Bukayo Saka led to a cross which the host failed to clear and allowed the former to pounce.

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The Gunners maintained their dominant spell soon in the second period as a ball from Cedric Soares to the edge of the area granted Smith Rowe to take hold and put Martinez to work.

Villa started to come into shape following a quiet period and almost had the lead through a smart attempt from close-range by John McGinn from an offload by Ollie Watkins.

Another clear threat from the Clarets midway in the second half saw Watkins twist and turn right of the area to have his attempt ricochet off Smith Rowe’s leg and onto the woodwork.

Mikel Arteta looked for an insurance strike late on with the addition of Eddie Nketiah for fellow attacker Alexandre Lacazette.

The Gunners weren’t granted such, but did run down the closing exchanges with a fine stop at the death from Leno to get back to winning ways following Wednesday’s disappointment.

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