Published On: Sat, Dec 9th, 2023
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Arsenal humbled by Aston Villa as Unai Emery’s side go two points off top | Football | Sport

Arsenal became the second title contender to lose at Aston Villa in the space of a week as Mikel Arteta’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat in the late kick-off on Saturday. John McGinn’s seventh-minute strike was all that separated the two sides in a tight affair. Villa were on top in the opening 45 minutes with Arteta banned from the touchline. But Arsenal improved in the second period and thought they had equalised in injury time when Kai Havertz prodded home from close range, but his effort was ruled out for handball. Express Sport takes a look at all the talking points as Villa go level on points with their visitors…

Villa real top four contenders

Aston Villa are real top-four contenders, regardless of how much Unai Emery tries to play it down. The Villa boss claimed there are seven Premier League teams better than his after beating Manchester City 1-0 in midweek.

The Midlanders went toe-to-toe with the defending champions and dominated for the full 90 minutes. They continued that momentum against Arsenal and got on the board early through a smart turn and finish from McGinn.

After beating the two title contenders it is a clear warning to the rest of the league that they are a real threat for the Champions League positions.

Odegaard wasteful

Arsenal’s best two chances of the game fell to their captain Martin Odegaard but he was unable to provide the finish. After a smart one-touch lay-off from Gabriel Jesus in the first half, the Norwegian took too many touches before opening his body up to strike left-footed, allowing Martinez time to get down and make the save.

The miss that will play over and over again in his mind came after Kai Havertz broke in behind the defence and cut the ball back for Odegaard to strike unmarked from 12 yards out. He dragged the effort wide past the far post.

Nervy at the back

William Saliba needlessly splitting his goalkeeper and centre-back partner with a backpass that went out for a corner sums up how nervy the Gunners were. Ollie Watkins pressured the Frenchman and he panicked to give away a needless set-piece.

Arsenal mistake

Arsenal bosses must be wondering why they let Emiliano Martinez leave. The Argentinian World Cup winner proved once again why he is one of the best in the league with a commanding display in his own box.

The towering shot-stopper has an air of calmness and security and he constantly leaped from his line to claim a barrage of crosses and corners. In contrast, David Raya looked shaky between the sticks at the other end as his position remains under threat.

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