Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa: Premier League – as it happened
Speaking of the great Nick Ames, he has written a match report from an actual football ground on a Friday night when he could have been out having fun. Here it is.
Thanks for joining me, I am off to enjoy four minutes of peace.
Updated at 10.04pm BST
Our man at the Emirates.
Dean Smith probably found out he needs to be more ruthless as a manager. The team were obviously struggling from the off with three at the back and wing-backs. He kept talking to his coaching staff but did nothing until the break when it was almost too late.
Smith Rowe was given man of the match by Sky and I wouldn’t disagree with that too much but there were plenty of fine performances from the Gunners. Lokonga impressed in midfield and Lacazette reminded everyone what an asset he could be in midfield. Tavares on his full debut also did not look out of place in the Premier League.
Full-time! Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa
A very dominant performance from Arsenal where they won the game in the first-half. Villa looked far better after their half-time change of personnel and formation, something they should have done far sooner. Arsenal now just to find this sort of performance on a consistent basis.
Updated at 10.05pm BST
90+2 mins: Arsenal fans booing Martinez in the 92nd minute is quite funny.
90 mins: Ramsey pounces on a loose ball after Partey slips in the Arsenal box but the Villa midfielder drags his shot wide.
Martinelli on for Aubameyang.
Four minutes added on.
88 mins: “ Ramsey’s thunder strike qualifies for best meaningless goal of the year,” says Mary Waltz. I reckon there’s been better.
86 mins: Douglas Luiz throws the ball down and is booked for his petulance. Silly Dougy.
84 mins: Cash flings in a another long throw, it goes over Mings and then Gabriel leaves it, allowing Watkins to attack the ball but he cannot get a touch, when the slightest one would have meant an almost certain goal.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa (Ramsey, 82)
It’s a first senior goal for Ramsey as he takes the ball off Bailey’s feet to curl a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area. Game on?
Updated at 9.54pm BST
80 mins: Odegaard decides to shoot from a free-kick 30 yards from goal despite the angle being against him. The Norwegian hits the ball well but it’s straight at Martinez.
78 mins: Villa lift the ball into the box, Mings attacks the ball but White beats him to it and heads the cross clear.
Ings off, El Ghazi. I am not sure it counts as a throw of the dice at this stage.
76 mins: Villa are giving it a decent go without creating any decent chances.
74 mins: Saka swings in a corner from the right, Partey wins the header but only succeeds in flicking it wide.
Maitland-Niles replaces Lokonga.
72 mins: Aubameyang tries to curl the ball into the top corner but Martinez reads the shot and dives to his left, getting a big hand on it.
Aden emails: “ This is maybe not the best I’ve seen Arsenal play under Arteta (I’ll reserve that for the bonkers FA Cup run), but it’s certainly by far the most dominant. Can’t remember a game we’ve had under him where we’ve been so clearly better than the opposition for 70 mins. Knock on wood it isn’t wrecked!”
Aston Villa’s first half formation helped Arsenal dominate but it’s been a fine display overall, that’s for sure.
70 mins: Cash flings in a long throw, Konsa wins the header but it goes straight up in the air and Ramsdale comes to claim it after a couple of bounces.
68 mins: Villa also make a change with Ramsey coming on for Buendia.
66 mins: Lokonga finds space on the left and drives in a low cross into the corridor of uncertainty but Mings reads it and clears.
Lacazette’s race seems to be run. He is sat on the floor holding his feet. Odegaard looks to be the man ready to come on.
Updated at 9.42pm BST
64 mins: Arsenal are putting in a full team performance here, showing that they are playing for one enough.
62 mins: Buendia finds space between the defenders to collect a pass from Targett, he takes a touch and shoots for goal but Ramsdale is there to deflect the ball wide.
60 mins: Watkins tries to liven things up again for Villa but his drive from the edge of the box is blocked by a lunging White.
Targett, who is probably quite frustrated now, goes into the book for a cynical foul on Saka near the halfway line.
58 mins: That’s a shame for Villa as they looked quite bright in the opening stages of this half but the game is surely done and dusted now.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa (Smith Rowe, 56)
The Arsenal midfielder has been fantastic all night and gets his reward. He intercepts a pass 20 yards from his own goal and sets off on a run up the pitch. He picks up a lovely chip through from Aubameyang and shoots for goal, watching the ball go in off the post via Mings’ boot.
Updated at 9.28pm BST
55 mins: The game is definitely more open now, which is good news for the teams and the viewers.
53 mins: Lokonga drives through the heart of the Villa midfield, before slipping a pass through to Saka but his shot is blocked. The ball eventually comes back to Lokonga who swings a left-footed shot from the edge of the area straight at Martinez.
51 mins: Buendia and Watkins combine well in the box, allowing the Argentinian to pull the ball back to Ings who gets a shot off but White is there to block it. Villa look a lot sharper already. Maybe they should have made the changes earlier ...
49 mins: Ings throws himself to the ground in the box, claiming he has been pulled down by Gabriel but there is nothing it it. Arsenal break down the other end and win a corner after Lokonga’s shot is deflected wide but the attack ends with Saka pinging the ball over from 25 yards.
47 mins: Villa make a change at the break with Bailey on for Tuanzebe. They really needed to do something. It seems they are now operating in a 4-3-3 formation with Watkins on the left and Bailey on the right.
It almost has an instant impact as the ball is flung over the top for Watkins to latch onto, he has Ings in the middle but decides to shoot, testing Ramsdale who turns it behind for a corner which comes to nothing.
Here we go again!
“At last, Arteta has stumbled on the secret of winning football games – come across a team who, for some very mysterious reason, decide to play extremely badly,” writes Charles Antaki. “It certainly worked against Tottenham, and against Villa - well, so far so good. With a bit of luck, the 20 next games will also feature unaccountably rubbish opposition and all will be well.”
“Have you noticed that 99.9% of the time refs are called to VAR they change their decision?” asks Phillip Haran. “If he strongly believes his decision he refuses to go and look and generally they are the more dodgy decisions. Targett definitely played the ball but through the player so maybe, in this case, justice was done.”
Yes, it is almost a guarantee. I guess they put their faith in the video referees who have more time to see it.
Zach Neeley emails: “Arsenal had four shots on goal to Villa’s 0 on anywhere, earned a penalty, hit the post, and are lucky to be up 2-0?”
I mean lucky in the sense they scored their second in the 51st minute of the first half when only two minutes were added on.
Smith Rowe has been great on the left with Tavares also looking great down the left. The combination is allowing the Portuguese full-back to run into space vacated by Smith Rowe who keeps cutting inside to cause havoc.
“The Villa players should pro rate their salary and donate the amount to charity,” emails Mary Waltz. “That was a sorry display of football.”
“As much as I want us to win, and I really, REALLY do, that was a really harsh decision,” says Karen Bridgen . It was a penalty, I am afraid.
Half-time! Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa
Arsenal should be out of sight but are, in fact, very lucky to have a two-goal lead. Football is a funny. Aston Villa have been ruddy awful, though.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Aston Villa (Aubameyang, 45+6)
The Arsenal skipper sees his penalty saved by Martinez diving to the right but he reacts quickly to tap the rebound into the almost empty net.
Updated at 9.10pm BST
45+5 mins: The half-time whistle blows and then the referee is sent to look at the VAR screen to decide if Targett going through the back of Lacazette in the box is a penalty. The defender makes contact with the striker before the ball and Pawson returns to the pitch to point at the spot.
Updated at 8.53pm BST
45 mins: Two minutes added on.
43 mins: Buendia sends in a dangerous cross for the Villa strikers to attack but Ramsdale reads it and takes a simple catch.
41 mins: Obviously, it should be said that despite bringing nothing to this game, Villa are only a goal behind. Arsenal have had 11 shots to Villa’s big fat zero.
39 mins: Dean Smith has been speaking to Craig Shakespeare on the touchline for the entire match but has still seen fit to change nothing thus far. Bring back John Terry.
Norrie Hernon emails: “ Arsenal often look better - and better connected - with Lacazette, but we’re reliant on Auba for goals as Laca and the midfield don’t score enough. Arteta has never looked like he knows the answer to this.”
37 mins: Tavares is desperate for a goal. I think he has had about four shots already, which is impressive for a left-back. His latest effort sees him drive a shot with minimal backlift from 20 yards but it goes straight at Martinez who calmly pats it down.
Updated at 8.46pm BST
35 mins: Aubameyang decides to take on Konsa but the centre-back sticks with him all the way to the byline and eventually stopped his cross from the left.
33 mins: I am relatively surprised that Aston Villa have not changed anything as they are being ripped apart. To make things worse McGinn has gone into the book for going through the back of Lokonga in revenge for being dispossessed.
31 mins: It really should be 2-0 to Arsenal. Another Arsenal break see Smith Rowe slip Taveres through into space on the left, he crosses for Saka in acres of space but his right-footed shot is blocked by Martinez’s outstretched right boot.
Updated at 8.39pm BST
29 mins: Arsenal enjoy another break as Saka dribbles down the right, he lays it into Tomiyasu but Tuanzebe reads the danger and clears for a throw-in.
“If, like me, some other readers were wondering why the Guardian’s live scores page wasn’t showing the score in the St. Etienne v. Angers game,” says Kári Tulinius. “Things got a bit out of hand, flares-wise.”
27 mins: I am not sure Ings nor Watkins have touched the ball yet, making it more impressive that the latter has already been booked.
25 mins: I think Villa are going to need to change things soon as they are getting ripped apart on the right-hand side of defence. Wing-backs are do not look like a sensible idea at this stage.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Aston Villa (Partey, 23)
Smith Rowe swings in the corner to the near post, where Partey is waiting to flick towards goal. Martinez cannot do enough to keep the header out as the ball slips through his hands and into the corner. A deserved lead, to say the least.
Updated at 8.30pm BST
22 mins: McGinn cleans out Partey a second late, earning a roar from the crowd. Arsenal continue their attack, ending with Tavares cutting in from the left and firing off a shot which is deflected behind.
20 mins: Saka holds off Mings in the corner, who forces the Arsenal man backwards but then needlessly fouls him in a dangerous position on the right. Saka swings in the free-kick, Tuanzebe gets his head on it but it only goes as far as Partey who jabs the ball at goal, hitting the post rather than the net.
18 mins: Some careful buildup play from Arsenal ends when Tomiyasu fires a shot very high and wide from 25 yards. The Japan international could well be described as an “industrious defender”.
Updated at 8.23pm BST
16 mins: Tomiyasu bursts down the right, beating a couple of players before Targett recovers to rebound the ball off the Arsenal man for a goal kick.
Further up the pitch, Douglas Luiz is bemoaning a challenge from Lacazette which caught him on the top of his foot. The officials are not interested.
14 mins: Lacazette ends up in pain after a clash with Mings. The Frenchman is holding onto his face and writhing around in agony. The replay shows he gets an arm in the face, to be fair, but I do not think it required the full theatrics.
12 mins: A quick break from Arsenal ends with a corner being earned. Saka whips it in from the right but it barely gets off the ground. It ends up with Smith Rowe on the edge of the box but his fierce drive is blocked before it can trouble Martinez.
Peter Oh emails: “When it comes time for Danny Ings and Tyrone Mings to hang up their boots, I recommend that they look into investing in the restaurant business. Just picture it: Wings & Things by Ings & Mings, the most lip-smacking, stickiest, crispiest, sauciest, zestiest chicken in the world!”
Pitch it to them ...
10 mins: Villa get a corner on the right. McGinn swings it into the box ... a couple of Villa players end up on the deck but the referee isn’t interested.
8 mins: White dribbles the ball about 50 yards up the pitch before laying it off to the left, only to see the attack quickly break down.
Villa are unhappy after Aubameyang blocks Martinez’s kick by jumping in the way of the ball. Is that a foul? Mings and Martinez are very angry and the referee even has a word with Aubameyang. How odd.
Moments later Aubameyang has the ball in the back of the net after Lacazette gets the ball from Konsa in the Villa area and lays it into his strike partner to score but the referee blows up for a foul.
6 mins: Tavares earns possession from Cash on the flank, he bursts into the box and then lashes a shot well wide of the Villa goal. Arsenal are certainly on top here. Gary Neville said beforehand how Arsenal like to play in bursts, so it will be interesting to see how long this one lasts.
4 mins: Arsenal are controlling possession, building up slowly. The ball eventually reaches Saka on the right-hand side, he dinks a cross to the back post where Aubameyang sets himself for a bicycle kick but only succeeds in shinning it back to Saka, who blazes over.
Updated at 8.12pm BST
2 mins: All very intriguing in the opening 20 seconds as Gabriel and Ramsdale have a miscommunication and then the Brazilian blocks off Watkins to stop him getting to the ball. The Villa striker does not enjoy the robust attention and kicks out, earning a book for his troubles.
Updated at 8.17pm BST
Peep! Peep! Peep! Here we go!
The players are all out on the pitch as they try to sell punters their overpriced pre-match jackets.
There is an underwhelming lights show at the Emirates. I hope they do not fuse.
“The Gunners get a chance to build on that momentum,” quotes Charles Antaki. “Yes, maybe; but it’s a funny sort of momentum. It’s rather like those executive toys which were all the rage in the 1980s: a row of metal balls in in a cradle, which produced an amusing back-and-forth clickety-clack as you set them going. Only Arsenal isn’t really going clickety-clack. And it certainly isn’t amusing.”
Ings and Watkins are developing into a very dangerous partnership, which will be a concern for White and Gabriel who are still working on their relationship in Arsenal’s defence.
An exciting day for Nuno Tavares as he makes his full Premier League debut. He never looked like becoming a permanent fixture in the Benfica team, so it will be interesting to see how he kicks on at Arsenal.
Some inspiration for Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta wants things to change. I hope Nick Ames praises me for including his fine work.
No Tierney for Arsenal tonight.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Lokonga, Partey, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Leno, Holding, Cedric, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Elneny, Pepe, Odegaard, Martinelli
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Tuanzebe, Mings, Targett, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Buendia, Ings, Watkins
Subs: Steer, Hause, Young, Nakamba, Sanson, Ramsey, El Ghazi, Bailey, Archer
Updated at 7.39pm BST
These two teams started the season at the top of the table but now find themselves in 12th and 13th respectively. Alphabetical order was always unlikely to save Arsenal’s campaign but at least Villa are not too far off where they will want to be at the end of the season.
Arsenal salvaged a point on Monday night in dramatic circumstances, thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s 95th-minute equaliser against Crystal Palace. The Gunners now get the chance to build on that momentum tonight. They were bested by the Eagles who looked the superior side for most of the match, leaving Mikel Arteta to ponder changes for a Friday night under the Emirates lights.
Dean Smith will have seen what Palace did at the start of the week and will be confidence his Villa players can do very similar to give them a chance of victory.
Villa come into this off the back of being on the wrong end of a 95th minute strike of their own in a galling 3-2 defeat at home to Wolves, having been two ahead going into the final 10 minutes. How they react to that most desperate of losses will be interesting to see.
Let’s hope for a cracker.