When I wrote the preview this morning I spoke about how I thought we would perform better than we had in our last two outings because Arsenal doesn’t press with intensity. I even spoke about how I felt we could pinch all three points but I didn’t quite expect what we witnessed this evening.
Dean Smith made just once change to the starting line up that lost 3-4 to Southampton last time out as Trezeguet come in for the injured Bertrand Traore.
VAR involved again
I am sure I am not alone when I say I don’t believe we have gained anything from VAR. Instead, we speak about it in some cases more than we speak about what happens in the game. Just for the record, I did agree with the decision made today but its one I believe between the referee and linesman, they should have made by themselves.
Villa had the ball in the back of Arsenal’s net after just 45 seconds. Jack Grealish cut in from the left and laid the ball off for John McGinn who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
A few minutes later, VAR decided that Ross Barkley was in an offside position. Something I could see from the moment we scored. Barkley was obstructing Bernd Leno and even though you could argue, he wasn’t saving the ball anyway, that’s not the point. It took four minutes to make that decision, for the record.
Villa then nearly gifted Arsenal the lead when McGinn’s under-hit pass nearly allowed Thomas Partey through on goal but Emi Martinez came to the Scot’s rescue.
The away side finally got their goal after 25 minutes though. A great patient buildup between Grealish, Barkley and Matt Targett before the left-back delivers a low cross across goal where Trezeguet is waiting to knock the ball home. Replays later showed it was actually Arsenal defender Bukayo Sako who had the last touch.
Villa put Arsenal to the sword
After a very organised and solid first-half performance, Villa came out even stronger in the second half.
Just moments into the second half Trezeguet forced Leno into a close-range save to deny the Egyptian at his near post.
Villa always looked the more dangerous of the two sides despite Arsenal trying to up the ante and it wasn’t long before Villa doubled their lead.
A beautiful cross-field ball from Douglas Luiz to Barkley who volleyed the ball back into the middle and Ollie Watkins was there to nod home.
Grealish came very close just moments later but was denied as the ball was cleared off the line.
Watkins second and Villa’s third did come three minutes after the second goal though. Martinez threw the ball to Grealish who ran the length of the pitch, holding off Hector Bellerin, before playing a nice through ball for Watkins who makes it three.
When Villa are full of confidence they have proven they can be a match for anyone this season. It’s now four clean sheets on the road for Dean Smiths men, meaning they are the only Premier League side not to concede on the road.