Arsenal extended their lead over their top-four rivals as they produced one of the narrow football results of the weekend in the Premier League. The visitors dominated the game in the first period and were rewarded when Bukayo Saka put them ahead in the 30th minute. Villa remains in ninth place with their best chance falling to Ollie Watkins whose effort rattled off the post.
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Cash (6), Konsa (6), Mings (5), Young (6), Luiz (6), McGinn (6), Ramsey (5), Coutinho (5), Buendia (7), Watkins (6).
Subs: Traore (5), Ings (n/a), Bailey (6).
Arsenal: Leno (7), Tierney (7), White (8), Gabriel (8), Cedric (7), Partey (8), Xhaka (6), Smith Rowe (6), Saka (9), Odegaard (6), Lacazette (6).
Subs: Holding (n/a), Pepe (6), Nketiah (6).
Man of the match: Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “It’s a very big win for us. I thought we played fantastically well, but we didn’t put the game to bed when we had the chance. Then you suffer, but we showed the resilience to win. Villa is a very good team and to come here is always extremely difficult. We managed to do the things we wanted to do in the match and I think we deserved to win the game. The connection between the players and the fans is exceptional and that gives you a lot of energy and belief. There are still 10 games to go and you can see how small the margins are. The key is that we are there [in the top four] and that we believe we can do it.”
Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard: “We were really indecisive first half and lacked belief collectively. We were dominated and second best, but still in a position at half-time to do something about it. We improved second half and believed more. As the game went on, we got into better positions. We improved, but no complaints about the scoreline. I don’t think teams like Arsenal are a step too far, but there is a gap we need to close.”
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