Aston Villa returned to winning ways following an impressive defensive display against Arsenal and a fantastic team goal finished off by Ollie Watkins.
The game was Villa’s sixth game in eighteen days but that didn’t stop them from bouncing back from the defeat against West Ham in mid-week.
Dean Smith opted to replace Douglas Luiz with Marvelous Nakamba while Bertrand Traore returned at the expense of Anwar El Ghazi.
Ollie on fire
Arsenal dominated the game for the majority but failed to have any real impact on the Villa goal.
Watkins continued his fine streak in front of goal as he netted his 10th premier league goal of the season. Traore latched on to a loose pass from Cedric Soares and raced past Gabriel before squaring the ball with the outside of his left foot to Watkins. The former Brentford man shot but was helped by a big deflection from Rob Holding which resulted in the ball rolling past Mat Ryan, in the Arsenal goal.
Arsenal huffed and puffed but Villa were well organised and were in no mood to be making any mistakes.
The visitor’s worth real effort of note came on the hour mark when Emi Martinez was equal to a well-taken free-kick from Granit Xhaka.
Villa probably should have doubled there lead just before half time. Ross Barkley played Traore through and after turning brilliantly on the ball found himself one-on-one with Ryan and the winger attempted a dinked finish but the keeper was able to get a hand to it.
Arsenal continued to dominate the possession in the second half as Villa seemed happy to soak the pressure and hit them on the counter.
Watkins was a constant thorn for the Arsenal defence all afternoon and came close as Ryan had to get down low to deny the striker.
Pepe came close for Mikel Arteta’s man after finding himself in space in the Villa box but the winger failed to find the target.
Martinez was tested a few moments later by Pepe though. The winger’s effort took a deflection off Ezri Konsa but the keeper was able to deny him with his legs.
The game started to come a little predictable with Arsenal having a lot of the ball and Villa hitting them on the counter. John McGinn and Jack Grealish forced Ryan into saves while Watkins had another effort but failed to hit the target.
Villa now have recorded 11 clean sheets and have equalled their points tally for the whole of last season. They also now have a little break before they play Brighton next weekend so it enables them to re-charge their batteries after a very busy schedule in recent weeks.
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