Two late goals from Gabriel Martinelli and an Emiliano Martinez own goal handed Arsenal a vital victory in the race for the Premier League title as they came from behind twice to beat Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park on Saturday.
The Argentine goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the own goal deep in added time as a stunning strike from Jorginho cannoned off the crossbar and off the back of the World Cup winner. Then the game was sealed minutes later when substitute Martinelli pounced on a defensive calamity from Villa and Martinez to score into an empty net.
Both sides had created plenty of chances in the game and the Gunners deserved the three points because they gave such a spirited performance to bounce back from the crushing defeat against title rivals Manchester City in midweek. After that loss, the Villa game was seen as a huge psychological test for Arsenal and they passed it with flying colours as they showed great character to come from behind twice.
The result saw Arsenal record their first ever win against former boss Unai Emery and what a way to do it to instil some much-needed confidence back into the players and their title charge.
It was a horror start for the Gunners as it appeared as they were still suffering from the hangover of their 3-1 defeat against Manchester City in midweek which looked to change the momentum in the title race in a huge psychological fashion
Inside the opening 10 minutes, Arsenal found themselves behind as a mistake from Oleksandr Zinchenko saw Matty Cash dispossess him. The right-back played a ball for Ollie Watkins to chase and the forward held off William Saliba before firing past Aaron Ramsdale.
Jorginho's shot from range hits the bar and goes in off the face of Emi Martinez...
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The hosts started brightly while Arsenal were sluggish in the opening stages, but soon the Gunners started firing. They started to suffocate Villa with their high press and it eventually led to them conjuring up an equaliser as Bukayo Saka fired in a rocket from inside the area as Emiliano Martinez was left stranded.
Tyrone Mings’ header went straight into the path of the winger, setting him up perfectly to strike the ball first time. The centre-back had earlier done brilliantly to put off Eddie Nketiah for what seemed destined to be an equaliser when he had a headed chance from point-blank range.
Mings returned to the heart of the Villa defence after signing a new long-term contract in B6 earlier in the week, and this game marked his 150th appearance for the club. It was just months ago that his Villa career was drawing to a close after former manager Steven Gerrard stripped him of the club captaincy and sporadically selected him for the starting lineup.
While Villa struggled to deal with Arsenal’s possession of the ball, they made up for it in being clinical when they did gain a hold of it. It seemed like Arsenal would take the lead in the match after the leveller but it was Villa who edged in front for a second time. A well-worked move that saw Alex Moreno play a low ball towards the edge of the box found Philippe Coutinho after Emi Buendia dummied the ball into his path. The Brazilian then took a touch before coolly finding the bottom corner.
There were chances for both sides in the second half and the Gunners were able to pull themselves level once again. From a short corner, Martin Odegaard teed up Zinchenko on the edge of the box and the Ukrainian drilled his shot into the bottom corner. Arsenal’s heads were up and they created a lot more as the game went on. Eddie Nketiah saw a header hit the crossbar and Odegaard squandered a great chance from close range after Nketiah robbed Ezri Konsa.
Villa still looked dangerous on the break. Substitutes Jhon Duran and Leon Bailey had an impact when coming on and the latter forced a brilliant save from Ramsadle who was able to tip his powerful shot onto the bar.
Then the drama all unfolded in added time as Martinez’s own goal was quickly followed by Martinelli’s simple finish. The Gunners return to the top of the Premier League table, edging three points clear over Pep Guardiola’s side. Over to you Manchester City.