Starting XI: Szczesny, Jenkinson (76), Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Monreal, Arteta, Diaby (61), Wilshere, Walcott (91), Giroud, Cazorla
Subs: Mannone, Koscielny (91), Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey (61), Gervinho, Podolski (76)
Arsenal grabbed three valuable points with a late win against Aston Villa at the Emirates today. Arsene Wenger was looking for a response from his team and they certainly started brightly. Jack Wilshere forced Guzan into an early save after being sent through by Giroud before Theo Walcott had a goalbound effort blocked.
The early pressure mounted and Arsenal took the lead in the 7th minute. Santi Cazorla was played in by Jack Wilshere, his initial effort was blocked but the ball fell back into his path, another low shot swerved past the defenders and into the net.
Villa then tested Szczesny with the keeper palming away an Agbonlahor shot before a low cross from the right evaded the same player with the goal at his mercy.
Olivier Giroud played in the new-booted Mikel Arteta but he was crowded out by the Villa defence, before Szczesny once again made a very good save keeping out an N’Zogbia effort. At the other end Jack Wilshere shot wildly over the bar after running on to a good nod down from Giroud, and Theo Walcott curled a left-footed shot not far wide after some decent build-up play from Abou Diaby.
Arsenal had another half-chance when Wilshere played it to Giroud, he played a one-two with Cazorla and took a shot but Guzan was out quickly and the angle was tight. The Gunners saw shots from Arteta and Giroud blocked while Carl Jenkinson defended well when the visitors broke from an Arsenal free kick which could have caught then on the hop.
Half time: 1-0
In the second period Villa had the first chance, Ciaran Clarke heading over from a corner, before Giroud fired a shot from a tight angle wide when he could have given Wilshere a tap-in if he’d looked up.
Arsenal probed constantly, winning a series of corners but none of them really caused Villa too much difficulty. Aaron Ramsey replaced Abou Diaby in the 61st minute with the Frenchman going straight down the tunnel, suggesting the change was made because of injury and not because he was on a yellow card.
Giroud almost got on the end of a low Carl Jenkinson cross as Arsenal looked to add some safety to the scoreline, but it was Villa who got the next goal. After an Arsenal corner caused no problems, they broke upfield, Weimann was allowed to run into the danger area, and his shot from 25 yards flew in despite Szczesny being in a decent position and getting a hand on it. It was poor from the goalkeeper.
Arsene Wenger sacrificed a defender for an attacker, bringing on Podolski for Jenkinson as his team sought a winner, but again a series of corner was about as much as Arsenal could manage. Each one less threatening than the last. That was until Giroud planted a great header just under the bar but Guzan got a hand to push it over.
A Cazorla cross flashed across the 6 yard box before being put out for a corner but the pressure from Arsenal finally counted. With Arsenal on the ball in the Villa half, Wilshere played it over the top for Monreal who got into the box, pulled it back and Cazorla, running onto it, finished clinically into the bottom corner. It was a goal they deserved on the balance of play.
After Theo Walcott had had a couple of shots on goal, one which forced a decent save from Guzan, Wenger put on Koscielny for the England winger to shore up the game.
Szczesny had to be alert as Villa came forward, but in the end Arsenal saw it out, won the game and the three points and they have the little Spaniard to thank for it.
Muy bien, Santi!