Arsenal 3 (Gibbs 16, Walcott 25, Arteta 90) – Aston Villa 0
Man of the Match – Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Arsenal secured their 7th consecutive win against Aston Villa, on Saturday, to create some GAP between the London clubs. The earlier kickoff between Chelsea and Sp*rs, resulted in a drab goalless draw, which really didn’t help either side, but the Gunners are now 3 clear of Sp*rs and 8 off Chelsea, as they look to seal 3rd spot.
There was concern, however, even before the game started, when Arsenal’s best defender this season, Laurent Koscielny, injured himself in the warm-up, which meant a place in the starting line-up for the calamitous Johan Djourou. Koscielny, is expected to return back to action for next week’s trip to Loftus Road, to play QPR. There was a return to the starting line up for Gervinho, as both Chamberlain and Ramsey were benched.
Villa’s team selection was a wee bit surprising, with Alex McLeish opting for Gabriel Agbolahor to partner the world’s best striker, Emile Heskey, while they slotted in 4 midfielders.
Arsenal’s defensive woes seemed to expand, when Johan Djourou took a knock off Emile Heskey. However, he soon recovered and the Gunners shifted to top gear. Arsenal had much of the ball, but Villa missed a great opportunity on the counter, when Albrighton’s effort was poor.
van Persie looked in delicious touch, when he fed Walcott, but his shot was kept out by Given, and Sagna’s rebound was poor. Soon enough, Arsenal took the lead, as Kieran Gibbs was in plenty of space in Villa’s penalty box. He shot past Given to hand Arsenal the initiative.
The second goal, came 8 minutes later, when Cuellar’s ball was intercepted by Alex Song, who played a fantastic long ball, not the first time he has done it this season, into the path of Theo Walcott. A couple of touches later, Walcott finished emphatically.
Arsenal never let the pressure die. van Persie missed, what can be called a sitter, in the form he is in, while Arteta forced a fine save from Given. Just before half-time, Villa defender Stephen Warnock managed to make a goal line clearance to prevent Arsenal from scoring the 3rd goal.
The second half was much more even, as Villa tried to get back to the game, but it was very comfortable for the Gunners. The crowd loved a bit of van Persie skill, as he teased the Villa defenders. Rosicky had two decent chances, to close out the game, but one he missed, and the other one saved.
Arsenal then bought on Brazilian Andre Santos, who returned after a lengthy injury layoff. Arsenal finally got their third in injury time, as Arteta unleashed an unstoppable freekick past Given.
Elsewhere, Liverpool lost at home to Wigan, while Manchester City’s title challenge looks to be stuttering after they could only muster a draw at Stoke, thanks to a fantastic goal from Peter Crouch.
Szczesny (7.5) – A comfortable afternoon for the Pole.
Sagna (8.5) – Some fantastic stuff from Sagna on the right flank.
Vermaelen (8.5) – A flawless display from Vermaelen, against a tricky Villa attack.
Djourou (8) – Looked like a real defender, for once.
Gibbs (8) – The goal should do him a world of good. Looks to be coming back to his best.
Song (8.5) – A fantastic long ball capped a fine display by the Cameroonian hardman.
Rosicky (8.5) – Looked really sharp yet again. His thrusts make him look like a 18 year old.
Arteta (8.5) – Never lost the ball, once during the game, as far as I remember. And a fine freekick.
Gervinho (7.5) – Slowly building up his confidence, with some decent dribbles and an assist.
Walcott (8.5) – Constant menace to Villa’s defence. Scored a goal, when played centrally.
van Persie (7.5) – It’s not a one man team, is it, after all?
Santos (7) – Almost conceded a silly goal, but happy to see the smiling Brazilian return.
Ramsey (7.5) – Still a few games away from regaining his spot in the first team.
Chamberlain – Came on too late to get a rating.
Overall Team Rating – 8